Friday, May 20, 2011

Nutrition and Physical Degeneration

Since discovering the low carb way of living, I have been reading a number of new and different books, which have expanded my horizon.  I am about half way through a very interesting book called Nutrition and Physical Degeneration by Weston A. Price.  It is by a Cleveland are dentist who, in the 1930's, decided to see what habits led to healthy teeth and overall health.

He visited isolated populations around the globe, including isolated villages in the tops of the Swiss Alps, Eskimos, African tribes, Melanesians, Maori, Peruvian Indians, etc.  His investigations happened at a very interesting time, right at the intersection between traditional and modern ways of eating, and what he discovered was truly amazing.  Those who followed traditional eating habits were healthy, vibrant, and had a full set of teeth without much evidence of tooth decay.  Those who followed a modern diet of, among other things, refined white flour and sugar, were much less healthy and had a lot of dental problems.  I am now in the part of the book where he is distilling what he learned over a decade of such travels.

The next time you are in Barnes and Noble, pick up a copy of this book and simply look at the photographs.  You will be astounded at the differences in dental hygiene between those who at the traditional diet and those who ate the modern diet.  An image is truly worth a thousand words and I was stunned by the difference one single generation made in the health of these peoples.  He also has a lot of photos of skulls of ancient peoples who lived before modern times, and their teeth and jaws are perfect, with little to no decay or deformities.

One thing that has bothered me about this book is that it was written in a time period when eugenics was practiced and believed.  Phrases like, "Is it just for society to permit production of physical and mental cripples?" (p. 8) almost made me abandon the book before I got started.  For a brief historical overview of the eugenics movement, read this essay by novelist Michael Crichton.  But if you can get past the eugenics and elitist comments that are a product of the time period in which it was written, it is an excellent book.  I am glad I did not abandon the book, as it has been extremely interesting.

I have discovered there is a Weston A. Price Foundation dedicated to the nutritional philosophies discovered in this remarkable book.  While not completely low carb, it is certainly a very healthy way of eating.  I will report more on this remarkable book when I have finished it.

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