By: Sapna Fliedner MSN, HHC
The Weston Price Diet
The name ‘Weston A. Price’ is seldom heard in the world of dentistry. Perhaps it’s because the ideas of this pioneering dentist challenges the conventional knowledge about tooth decay – that it’s caused by bacteria and germs. However, his methods were overwhelmingly successful and many in alternative health and natural food circles are giving his ideas renewed attention.
The Journeys of Weston Price
Dr. Weston Price was a dentist who lived in the early part of the 20th century. He observed that while tooth decay was rampant among industrialized societies, people in indigenous cultures had healthy, straight teeth with no signs of decay at all.
Spurred by this observation, he set off in the 1930s on a 10-year world tour, traveling to every corner of the earth to study the customs of indigenous populations. By studying their nutrition, he discovered that germs don’t cause tooth decay; it’s what we eat. In cultures untouched by modernization, tooth decay was non-existent. When the modern diet came into these cultures, tooth decay quickly followed.
A Revolutionary Idea
Dr. Price found that our modern nutrition is what destroys our teeth. He especially blamed ‘store food,’ the processed foods that came with large, industrialized and usually urban populations.
What Dr. Price found was that in our modern diet, we don’t eat enough foods that are fat soluble. The indigenous cultures that he studied ate four times as much water soluble food and ten times as much fat soluble food which is high in calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, iron and other minerals that help maintain strong teeth.
These fat soluble vitamins, A, D and K2 are found in organ meats, fish liver oil, egg yolks, butter and bone broths. Babies and children have a hard time converting the beta carotene in fruits and vegetables to the Vitamin A (retinol) form until they are much older. Vitamin A from animal sources is the easiest to assimilate for babies and children. In fact, many people have a hard time converting beta carotene to Vitamin A (retinol) due to the lack of fat soluble vitamins not present in the diet.
He identified three categories of food that cultures without tooth decay ate in large quantities:
– The innards of animals.
– Innards and other parts of fish and sea animals such as heads, eggs, cartilage, etc.
– Raw grass-fed dairy.
These are three types of food that we don’t get enough of in our modern daily diet. He also noted that:
– While indigenous food was organic and grown from fertile soil, most food in industrialized societies comes from depleted soil and is treated with pesticides and other chemical agents.
– Indigenous people eat more organ meats while we in the industrialized world eat mostly muscle meat.
– Indigenous societies use natural animal fats for cooking while we use mostly processed vegetable oils.
– Animals in indigenous cultures are raised on pasture while ours are raised in confinement.
– Indigenous people use bones to give broth its flavor while modern societies use additives.
– Indigenous people use unrefined salts and sweeteners while modern societies use refined varieties.
All of these differences mean that while indigenous people get the full effect of natural vitamins and nutrients that occur naturally in the food they eat, ours are over-processed and therefore we don’t get the full benefit of them. One of these benefits is strong, healthy teeth.
Dr. Price’s Do’s and Don’ts
Do you have to move to an island somewhere and live among the natives to live without tooth decay? Not at all. You can use Dr. Price’s recommendations to make choices about what you eat even in the modern world.
DON’T eat processed foods. This includes much of the packaged food you find at the supermarket as well as the entire snack aisle.
DO eat natural, whole foods that can spoil (in other words, not chemically treated to be edible for unnaturally long periods of time).
DON’T eat foods that contain refined sugars (especially high fructose corn syrup), white flour, hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated fats and oils, vegetable oils, polyunsaturated oils, or protein powders. This means avoiding most fried foods.
DO use natural animal fats and vegetable oils (coconut oil or ghee) in cooking.
DON’T be vegan. There are important nutrients that are only found in animal-based foods.
DO choose raw milk and none that is pasteurized, low-fat, skim or powdered.
DON’T use a microwave oven to cook; use traditional cooking methods instead.
DO choose eggs and meats from free range farms where animals are on pasture and not locked up in confinement.
DON’T drink fluorinated water or use it for cooking; use only filtered water.
DO eat fresh fruits and vegetables, preferably organic.
Dr. Weston Price’s ideas are hotly debated even today. Many in the dental industry believe that his ideas aren’t scientifically sound. However, he’s being rediscovered in alternative health communities where it’s believed that his theories are neglected. I highly recommend his book “Nutrition and Physical Degeneration.” Another great book is “Cure Tooth Decay“ by Rami Nagel. These books are fascinating with tons of documented stories.
The first time I heard about this, I’ll admit, I dismissed it. Being a vegetarian, it was hard for me to swallow. But, as soon as I let go of my dietary dogmas and beliefs, and tried a Weston Price diet for my children….I saw many amazing results. As a health practitioner, my duty is first to my patients and children. I have witnessed many truths with this way of eating and the healing and reversing of disease. When we tried the broths, my daughter’s teeth, which had previously been crowded, angled, somewhat translucent, and cavity filled, became straighter (without braces), became more whiter and opaque and on her most recent check up had zero cavities. This is with no other change in dental health…no changes in brushing, flossing more, etc….just dietary. Our family’s diet had always been organic, whole foods, made from scratch, consisting of fresh green smoothies, vegetables and juices, no junk food or sugar. But none of these healthy foods have done what a Weston Price type diet had done for them. I originally tried this way of eating to help with my daughter’s allergies (which I will write about in another post) and did not expect to see these amazing teeth changes. I honestly wish I had taken pictures of before and after to show you but as I said, I never expected this to happen. This was all in a matter of a few months. I look at her teeth and can’t believe the changes as my husband and I had worse teeth growing up. Ours were severely crooked and we had braces, so naturally we expect hers to be too. My oldest child was 7.5 when we implemented this diet and my youngest was 5. Until 7.5 and 5 years old they were vegetarians. We were not vegan but vegetarian. Both of these type of diets are not good for growing children. We were vegetarian for spiritual reasons and I will write about that in another post. Since both my children did not receive this type of food from birth onwards, they still need braces and have recently got them. My youngest chid has the straighest teeth out of all of us since she got more of these fats at a younger age than the older one and her braces will be on for the least amount of time. Diet makes a huge difference. We have limited our grain consumption (which by the way, vegetarians eat a lot of) and eat a more varied paleo way now. I tell this to moms so they can implement this type of diet in their young children to avoid the problems with vision, teeth, skin, bones, and attention that I see as a practitioner in young children. I wish I would have known this information when my children were born or before conception.
I recently went on a journey for 6 months around Asia and after learning about indigenous diets, I couldn’t help but look at people’s teeth. My husband thought I was a bit crazy as I would look at taxi drivers teeth, children playing on the street, waiters, etc. We traveled all over India, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Thailand, Bali and Japan. I would ask various strangers what they ate and sure enough, the ones who ate traditional diets of fish, meat and vegetables were the healthiest I had seen. The ones who were vegetarian all had heart disease, diabetes, cavities, etc. I remember when we were visiting Dharamsala India, we stayed at a small bed and breakfast. The owners were very nice but very sick. The wife would cook us mouth watering meals. The first thing I noticed about her was her teeth. They were severely blackened, very grey, and crooked. I asked her “Do you have heart problems? She looked at me in disbelief and got very quiet. She then revealed that she had a major heart attack last year. She was a vegetarian from birth and her family were Brahmins ( A caste system in India who abstain from meat).
Another time in the south of India, we stayed in a place called Auroville. It is close to the ocean in the state of Tamil Nadu, near Puducherry in south India. I noticed all the taxi drivers, locals and especially children had extremely straight, white teeth. I asked them what they ate and they all told me they ate a ton of fish, especially fish curries with the bones. I also saw extremely amazing posture in this population. As soon as I ventured into the town and cities that were heavily populated, I again saw severe tooth decay, poor posture and glasses. I really wanted to start a research project of all my findings, but we ran out of time. Besides, Dr. Weston Price had already done it!
“Dietary Dangers.” The Healing Fork blog. May 14, 2010. Available online at http://thehealingfork.blogspot.jp/2010/05/weston-price-foundation.html. Accessed May 3, 2012.
Nagel, Rami. “Forgotten tooth decay cure: heal your cavities and prevent root canals.” Nourished Magazine, December 2008 edition. Available online at http://nourishedmagazine.com.au/blog/articles/forgotten-tooth-decay-cure-heal-your-cavities-and-prevent-root-canals-2. Accessed May 3, 2012.
“Weston Price Principles.” Nutrition Healing website. Available online at http://www.nutrition-healing.com/westonprice.html. Accessed on May 3, 2012.