Recent years have seen a dramatic rise in popularity of the paleo diet and the ever-increasing trend sweeping the nation to move away from highly processed SAD foods (Standard American Diet) and toward the simple real foods that our ancestors ate. More and more people are becoming conscious that canned, packaged and processed foods are not only making us sick, tired, and fat, but often, can hardly be called "food" at all.
Since the industrial revolution, developed society has forgotten it's roots. While many may see the current science-backed real-food movement as a recent discovery, in fact one of the very first researchers who discovered a connection between traditional diets and optimum health was a dentist from the 1930's!
In his quest for answers about the real cause of dental decay, he traveled the globe and learned that many modern ideas about human health were very, very wrong.
The Journey Begins
The hero of our story is Dr. Weston A. Price from Cleveland, Ohio.
In the early 1930s, while America was in the throes of the Great Depression, Dr. Price set off on a decade-long journey to some of the most remote regions on earth. His goal was to reach peoples untouched by western society and study their dental health.
His ambitious itinerary included:
- Mountainous villages in Switzerland
- Gaelic communities on the Outer Hebrides islands of Scotland
- Indigenous peoples in South America
- Polynesian and Melanesian peoples in the South Pacific
- Remote African tribes
- Maori tribes in New Zealand
- Aboriginal villages in Australia
Unfortunately for Dr. Price, there were no frequent flyer miles back then. Fortunately for us, though, the good dentist uncovered some fascinating insights into the modern diet and our dental health.
What Dr. Price observed in his travels astounded him.
He visited remote tribes that had never seen (or even heard of) a dentist, yet what did he find?
Wherever he went, he observed people with perfectly straight, beautiful teeth. They had well-developed jaws with enough room for all their teeth. He also found little or no signs of tooth decay, despite the absence of dental treatment.
The surprises didn’t end there. Although these people had no access to modern medicine, they all displayed strong, healthy physiques. They also showed remarkable resistance to illness.
Far from finding remote tribes full of sick individuals with bad teeth, Dr. Price found just the opposite. Instead, it was everyone back home in America who suffered from ill health, cavities, and crooked teeth!
What did Dr. Price conclude from his decade of research?
The Link Between Diet and Dental Health
Based on his observations, Dr. Price concluded that the modern diet was ultimately responsible for America’s dental woes.
Most tribal diets he observed contained up to four times the water-soluble vitamins and minerals of the standard American diet.
Even more surprising? Most tribespeople consumed as much as ten times the amount of fat-soluble vitamins and saturated fat. These came from animal sources such as butter, eggs, fat, shellfish, and organ meat.
These are the same fat- and cholesterol-rich foods that the American people shunned as unhealthy! And yet, Americans were the ones suffering from so many health and dental problems.
Dr. Price concluded that these remote tribes instinctively knew what modern researchers were only just discovering.
Fat-soluble vitamins, including vitamins A and D, are vital to the human diet. Without them, we can’t absorb minerals or use protein effectively, no matter how much of it is in our diets. And if we’re not absorbing the nutrients we need, our physical and dental health will suffer.
The isolated tribes that Dr. Price observed on his world tour astounded him. He observed people that were physically robust, with no reproductive, mental, or emotional problems.
They stood in stark contrast to the people in developed countries who ate processed foods, sugar, pasteurized dairy products, and low-fat foods. The “convenience” of our modern diet is, in fact, the key to many of our physical, emotional, and dental problems.
If Dr. Price noticed it almost a century ago, you can imagine how much worse our diet has become since then. Perhaps this is why, as we become more health-conscious, doctors are recommending a return to whole foods and healthy fats.
In an ironic twist, the peoples in these isolated tribes and villages had it right all along. Who’d have thought it?