Photo Credit: Wonderlane/Flickr
Last Friday, I talked about a nutrient dense diet and Dr. Weston A Price. In quick overview, he traveled the world comparing traditional diet’s nutrient levels and the effects of that on general and dental health. He found that traditional diets were very high in nutrients, and that it produced much better health, including significantly less cavities. When he came back from the United States, the question was how to put into practice what he had learned, and whether nutrition could cure cavities.
While certainly nothing is a fix –all solution, Dr. Price had amazing results. With the great depression in its full-blown terribleness, many children were underfed and under-nourished (in our generation, many children remain under-nourished, but are overfed in calories). Because of that, many children were suffering from terrible cavity situations that just added to their suffering. Dr. Price started doing trial runs with groups of children to see if he could improve both their teeth and general health. He believed that “dental caries is only one of the many expressions of our modern deficient nutritions”. He also felt that when he improved their teeth health, he also improved their general health.
Dr. Price’s study on dental cavities and nutrition
Pre-trial food Before these trials, the general diet of these children was the following: “It usually consists of highly sweetened strong coffee and white bread, vegetable fat, pancakes made of white flour and eaten with syrup and doughnuts fried in vegetable fat”. Not the most nutritious fare in the world, eh? Poverty does that.
Dr. Price couldn’t control their home diet, but what he did was plan for them having a very nutritious mid-day meal. Before he started them on this mid-day meal, he carefully plotted each child’s teeth health that included complete x-rays, chemical analysis of the saliva (did you know that your salvia is rich with minerals – if your diet is?), and careful plotting of the position, size, and depth of all cavities as well as general information on their health. After that was done, they daily got a nutrient-dense meal six times a week that contained the following.
The “Meal” 4 ounces of tomato juice or orange juice and a teaspoon of equal parts of very high vitamin natural cod liver oil and an especially high vitamin butter (at the beginning of the meal). Then they received 1 pint of stew, which was full of nutrient dense homemade stock (made with plenty of bone marrow bones), meat and vegetables. Next they had a course of cooked fruit with very little sweetening plus rolls made out of freshly ground whole wheat and lots of pastured butter. Plus, each child was given two glasses of fresh whole milk. Each child was given seconds, if they wanted it (and many did). This menu varied so that they could include fish chowder, or organ meats on a regular basis.
The result The result? He found that in well over 90 percent of the children who went through his program, this diet controlled their caries. He has x-ray proof that not only did these children (most with over 20 cavities in entering the program), not get any new cavities, but that many of them “healed” or cured their previous cavities! (Note you can see the x-rays of some of the healed cavities in his book). The saliva showed improved nutrient levels.
As he continued to monitor these children, he found that when they stayed on the diet, that they wouldn’t develop new cavities, but once they went off, they would often start having rapid teeth decay again. If this is new to you, I know that it goes against everything you ever thought about tooth decay, but I think that we have been misled (not purposely, but nevertheless mislead) about what causes tooth decay. While I am all for brushing teeth and proper teeth hygiene, I think our first line of defense is a nutrient dense diet. In fact, a book, Cure Tooth Decay (Amazon links are affiliate links) by Ramaiel Nagel, provides a blueprint based on Dr. Price’s research that attempts to help those wanting to heal their teeth. I’ve heard really good things about people who have been on the diet, and I had a good experience myself. (This is a good time to remind everyone to be very, very careful when doing DIY home treatments. You should be advised and overseen by a medical care professional as complications from tooth infections are very serious.) I’ll tell some of those stories later. Meanwhile, let’s go back to Dr. Price. Here are some important notes to make.
- He found that the meal he gave them had approximately, 1.48 grams of calcium, 1.28 grams of phosphorus, plus a plethora of vitamins (like A, D) and K2), in the first serving. Obviously they would get even more nutrients if they had a second serving.
- He noted that many children would still have cavities while drinking whole milk, which he felt was because the milk was too low in vitamin content because of the inadequacy of the food feed to the cow. This is why he tried to find good quality milk as well as provide nutrients from other foods. He also heavily emphasized using high vitamin butter (and cod liver oil) to help the body utilize the minerals in the diet. While some of us do a good job eating a lot of the nutrient dense foods on the PDF shared in my last post, I realized that I don’t always eat them all together at the same time. This could be a crucial missing point to our diet – making sure that we are getting a synergy of nutrients in one meal.
- I also realized that he managed to get a lot in that one meal – plus these kids were often eating seconds of everything! Getting enough quantity was important too.
- Finally, their diet at home was largely still made up of all of those nutrient poor foods, like doughnuts and such. Yet their health improved dramatically by this one meal, and not just their teeth! One boy went from the bottom of his class to the top to the amazement of his teachers after being on this lunch plan. This is why if I had to choose from having a “pure” diet that wasn’t super nutrient-dense, and a nutrient-dense diet that had some compromise foods in it, I’d pick the nutrient dense diet. Getting lots of nutrients in our diet is my top priority – not nitpicking the purity of my food (though that can be important too).
The thing that I really wanted to emphasize as well is that these kids had all of these different factors – calcium rich homemade stock and milk, phosphorus rich meats, magnesium from the whole grain roll, vitamins A and D and K2 from the butter, butter oil, and cod liver oil, all together six days a week. I wonder if the diet would have worked as well if these nutrients were spread out in a day, or in a week? Dr. Price seemed to think that these nutrients needed each other to be fully utilized by the body – meaning that he felt the diet was only effective when these foods were eaten together. This was not a complicated diet. However, too often I don’t give my own family the same abundance of natural found nutrients in a meal.
We have been experimenting with this meal plan. When I get all of these different factors together in one meal – the milk, the stew, the bread, the dessert, the butter, the cod liver oil, I am amazed at how satisfied and well nourished I feel. I feel full because it is a big meal, but not over-stuffed (we drink one cup of raw goat’s milk with the meal, and one later in the day, by the way). This really isn’t just about healing or preventing cavities, the main goal is to nourish ourselves well. And that’s what this meal does.
But, if you are more interested in whether healing a cavity with nutrition is really possible, I encourage reading both Cure Tooth Decay (check out his website for a lot of free information) and Dr. Price’s Nutrition and Physical Degeneration book. My new challenge, that I hope you will join me in; will be based on Dr. Price’s nutrient dense meal. I am still working out the details of that, because I want there to be room for making substitutions for certain things. Expect more on this topic soon! Meanwhile, I’d love for you to answer the following questions:
- Looking at the meal that Dr. Price put together, do you feel that you have a meal that is consistently as nutrient dense?
- How is your teeth health? If doing poorly, would you be willing to try to up nutrient amounts to prevent future decay?
- Does it sound overwhelming to you? If you were to try to make a meal like that to eat everyday, what elements would scare or overwhelm you?
For me: I feel that I spread out those nutrients throughout the day too much, and just don’t have enough quantity of these items too many days of the week. Some of our teeth health could be better (I will tell more of my personal story later), so I am really excited about getting a super-charged nutrient dense diet these next few months. My energy remains a problem for me. I am half way through my IV treatment for my low iron stores, but am starting to notice a difference! I am hoping that continues to improve.