Weston Price, a dentist, (1870-1948) is well known for his notorious views on nutrition and how it affected dental health. Was Weston Price a genius for suggesting that the state of a person's dentition was a direct result of their diet? Or, was he just a Quack promoting dentition as a form of phrenology to be used only to justify the consumption of lots of red meat, fat, coconut oil and raw milk?
As a dentist he saw everything through the prism of dental health. Price would eventually observe that that his new dental patients were suffering from poorer dentition than when he first had started practicing dentistry. While others in the wellness movement were quick to knock the value of eating the new modern junk food diet, Weston Price actually bothered to visit many different primitive societies throughout the world in order to prove his rather unique beliefs.
Price sought out on his own isolated primitive people for the dietary factors that were responsible for healthy teeth. Price honestly believed primitive cultures that were isolated from modern civilization ate a diet that provided them with immunity from dental caries. Amazingly as a dentist, Price never considered how natural foods like apples and other fruits as well as vegetables like sweet potatoes could easily result in cavities, when people chose not to properly brush their teeth.
While other scientists have spent a lifetime studying just one diet, Price easily found what he had expected to see in over a dozen different primitive cultures. And, documented his efforts with thousand of photographs taken of happy looking people and others who were not so beautiful. Price obviously never conducted in depth statistical based epidemiological studies of these cultures. Nor, did he ever take into account their longevity, infant mortality, endemic diseases, or any other factors. Price simply saw a persons teeth as a window into their natural health. And, subjectively collected data that supported his beliefs. Later having milled over his findings, he developed his notoriously high fat diet recommendations.
Some of the Primitive People Studied by Price
- The Bantu, an African tribe, were primarily agriculturists. Their diet consisted mostly of beans, squash, corn, millet, vegetables, and fruits, along with small amounts of milk and meat.
- The Dinkas of the Sudan, an African tribe, ate a combination of fermented whole-grains with fish, along with smaller amounts of red meat, vegetables, and fruit.
- Eskimo, or Innu, ate a diet of mostly meat and blubber from fish, walrus and seal, and other marine mammals. The Innu were also gathers of nuts, berries, and some grasses during the short summer months.
- Gaelic fisher people of the Outer Hebrides who ate cod and other sea foods, especially shell fish. Whole oats were a major part of their diet.
- Hunter-gatherer peoples in Northern Canada, the Florida Everglades, the Amazon, and Australia, consumed game animals, including organ meats, and ate a variety of whole-grains, legumes, tubers, vegetables, and fruits.
- The Maori of New Zealand, along with other South sea islanders, who consumed sea food which consisted of fish, shark, octopus, sea worms, shellfish - along with fatty pork and a wide variety of plant foods including coconut and fruit.
- Masai, an interior African cattle-keeping tribe, consumed virtually no plant foods, just beef, raw milk, organ meats, and were famous for drinking cow's blood.
- Swiss mountain villagers who subsisted primarily on unpasteurized and cultured dairy products, butter and cheese as well as whole-rye bread.
Weston Price wrote up his findings in his book Nutrition and Physical Degeneration. Devotees of Weston Price often refer to it as the definitive book on the devastating effects of processed foods on human health. They say that the book describes how healthy people are supposed to look, feel, and eat.
Everyone should remember that Weston Price was concerned about a change in dental health that took place during his own lifetime around the early 1900s when highly processed modern foods were first starting to be introduced. Price was not referring to the diet of ancient Egyptians or to when humans first started growing grains for food, some 10,000 years ago. Weston Price was referring only to the ill effects of a modern junk food diet which largely consisted of refined grains, pasturized dairy products, and other sugary sweets. Weston Price, himself, never wrote against the consumption of whole-grains.
One thing that all those photographs of smiling teenagers never stressed very well was how incredibly hard and physically demanding lifestyles these primitive people actually had to live being totally isolated from civilization. A person's physical activity level is what determines how much fat that they can safely include in their diet. That is why couch-potatoes should not eat a lot of fat, even if the primitives that Price studied did. Weston Price's work, also, forces us to ponder just how much painless dentistry developed over the last 100 years has improved longevity in industrialized societies, with little or no credit given to it by conventional medicine. The number of people who have met their doom over the ages when their teeth rotted, or wore out, is truly unfathomable.
Beyond nutrition, Weston Price was also notoriously known for having advocated the large scale removal of all root canals for being a source of infections. His root canal infection theory led to the needless extraction of hundreds of thousands of root canals until well-designed research studies, conducted during the 1930s, demonstrated that his theory was wrong.
- Price, W. Nutrition and Physical Degeneration, Keats Publishing, 1943.