Monday, August 10, 2009

Fat Phobia and the Desire for a Beautiful Smile

Look at this beautiful girl:

And this adorable gentleman:

These are two of the kids at the Paz y Esperanza in Peru.

My son, Kristin, is working for a charitable foundation in Peru and is currently waiting to start the next project they have going down there. In the meantime, he and a couple friends did their own project on their own time, building and installing a playground at this school.

That's my son in the white shirt on the teeter totter. Is that a Mr. America sash you are wearing there, Kristin? (I'm guessing it has something to do with the installation ceremony.)

He posts lots of pictures of adorable South American children on his blog. What always strikes me is this:

The beautiful teeth they have.

I, sadly, do not have beautiful teeth. Everyone I know that does, paid a lot of money for them.

These are kids who have no money and very little in the way of material things. They certainly don't have access to the kind of dental care we have in the U.S. No fluoridated water. They don't wear braces either. But they have the teeth I would pay to have.

These people, including adults, are a testimony to the research done around the world by the scientist Weston A. Price. In the early twentieth century he was a dentist and he traveled all over the globe studying indigenous peoples trying to determine why they all universally had such perfect teeth and the absence of dental caries (cavities). I've read his research that concluded it was the natural diets of the native peoples that gave them such good health and good teeth. As soon as modern abominations like soda pop and processed foods came into their diets, the teeth of these people began to look like American (U.S.) teeth without good dental insurance- crooked and decayed. Well, like mine actually.

The research and published papers of the Weston A. Price Foundation really sets the modern idea of good diets on its ear. Specifically it blows out of the water the notion that a diet of low fat or no fat is healthy.

Here's a good article that speaks directly to why that gorgeous girl (and her ancestors too) have the teeth I wish I and my children could have: Guts and Grease: The Diet of Native Americans by Sally Fallon and Mary G. Enig, PhD
It says:
That the hunter-gatherer was healthy there is no doubt. Weston Price noted an almost complete absence of tooth decay and dental deformities among native Americans who lived as their ancestors did. They had broad faces, straight teeth and fine physiques.

And about fats: Animal fats, organ meats and fatty fish all supply fat-soluble vitamins A and D, which Weston Price recognized as the basis of healthy primitive diets. These nutrients are catalysts to the assimilation of protein and minerals. Without them minerals go to waste and the body cannot be built tall and strong. When tribes have access to an abundance of fat soluble vitamins, the offspring will grow up with "nice round heads," broad faces and straight teeth.

This is such an important fact and one that needs to be shouted from the rooftops: good fats supply the nutrients needed as catalysts for assimilation of minerals like calcium. Eating non-fat yogurt and other non-fat or low fat dairy products is a complete waste of time. Removing the fat eliminates the vitamin A that is necessary for the absorption of the calcium. It is a fallacy that eating a diet of non-fat dairy is a good way to build bones and teeth. Weston A. Price's research proved this. And so do the teeth of that gorgeous Peruvian girl. She doesn't eat any non-fat yogurt, I guarantee.

Modern food writers who assure us we can enjoy the superb health of the American Indian by eating low fat foods and canned fruits have done the public a great disservice. The basis of the Indian diet was guts and grease, not waffles and skimmed milk. When the Indians abandoned these traditional foods and began consuming processed store-bought foods, their health deteriorated rapidly. Weston Price vividly described the suffering from tooth decay, tuberculosis, arthritis and other problems that plagued the modernized Indian groups he visited throughout America and Canada.

I hope more people will read his fascinating research and start providing whole milk, full fat dairy products for their children and themselves. Fat does not make you fat. (Sugar does). There is no need to be afraid to eat it.


  1. Very interesting post! I wish I had beautiful teeth like that too!

  2. Great synopsis! Hooray for whole foods!

    What's interesting is that when modern processed foods were introduced the the diets of these indigenous people, their bone structure deteriorated within one generation. There are pictures of families where the older children have beautiful bone structure and then the children born to a family after the parents started eating processed foods had poor bone structure.

    Also, you can't get enough of the fat soluble vitamins and activators just by eating good fats and whole raw dairy. Those vitamins are most concentrated in organ meats and seafood, none of which we ever eat enough of in our society. You pretty much have to take high-vitamin cod liver oil to get enough of those nutrients.

  3. True, but one very small thing that people can do to stop depleting themselves of minerals is to stop eating non-fat and low fat dairy products and switch to the real thing.

    Somebody alert the dairy board to change their "Three a Day" TV commercials...

  4. An inactive lifestyle makes you fat!

  5. I'm wearing the Peruvian soccer jersey in the photo. The home jersey is white with a red diagonal stripe, and the away is red with a white diagonal stripe.

    As far as nutrition goes, I didn't have time to read all of what you wrote, but I can tell you that These are kids who have no money and very little in the way of material things. They certainly don't have access to the kind of dental care we have in the U.S. No fluoridated water. They don't wear braces either. But they have the teeth I would pay to have is not such a true statement. There are a lot of unhealthy people here, be it in a diet sense or a dental sense. Many, many people have teeth that are falling out and brown and rotting. This girl is an exception, not a rule, for sure. The majority of kids 6 or so and up generally have a lot of brown and rotten teeth. More often than good teeth, I see bad. By the time people hit 50+, it's almost expected that they'll be missing half their teeth if they're from the lower class. I think lack of dental work, no teeth brushing, and lots of sugar in the diet can really be blamed. Gaseosa, soda, is extremely popular, and is drank more than water. Coke and Inca Kola are the most popular. When I say they are drank more than water, I'm 100% serious. And it's generally from a young age- say 6 or 7. People think I'm strange because I drink a few liters of water a day.

    And straight, perfect teeth are rare, more or less like in the US. However, the diet here is probably full of fats and whole foods as well, so maybe it's a balance of good and bad.

  6. Well, way to take the air out of my post, my dear.

    But not really, completely.
    I have seen some photos of the people with bad teeth and it correlates with the bad diet, especially the soda, that has been brought in and changed the culture from it's origins.

    Do the kids at the school still get fed lots of the organ meats? Is the school diet leaning toward the American Wonder Bread cafeteria style?

    I also noticed the older lady you photographed in the desert, though she wasn't smiling big enough to tell really well, had decent looking teeth for someone her age and class.

    I know I have seen a number of photos of smiling kids with great teeth on your blog. Maybe you are singling out those cute ones?

    And regarding Rosie Kate's comment about the change in bone health within one generation, I wonder if that would be due to a change in the diet of the mother during pregnancy when the fetus' bones and teeth were developing?

  7. Sorry to deflate your post.

    But I really feel as if it'd be a bad representation of Latin America to say that people are all healthy and living off of the land. Things are *ahem* "modernizing" day by day, and the results are the same as we have in the US. As far as in the schools- it depends. At Paz y Esperanza in [very poor] Horacio, (I think) the breakfast program has kids on quinoa and vitamin enriched bread. But when you head towards more modern schools, like Santismo Salvador in Socabaya, where I work, there is a kiosk with all of the terrible processed modern foods one would expect. Cheetos and Doritos. And, again I repeat, everyone loves Coke. Coca Cola has taken over Latin America for sure, possibly with more pull than it has in the US (Coke also owns all of the other soda distributors). Really pretty disgusting- that the water is damn near undrinkable, and yet you can buy glass bottles of Coke and Inca Kola on every street corner. And if you're too far from a corner, there is a vendor every half block. It sucks to see, but in a way it mirrors the gov't subsidized food system in the US, in it's favoritism towards high fructose corn syrup and preservatives. It's especially disconserting when there is so much rich land full of fruits and vegetables ready to be utilized.
    That's not to say that the diet is all bad- I regularly eat food better than that of the average American. But when "developed" food moves in, it always results in fast food BS.

    Eventually, the boot of Big Brother squashes us all. And thus I ask the question I've asked many times already- is our "development" [i.e. cooperate invasion] really the best thing for developing countries?

    And regarding photos- I guess I've just deferred towards the cuter kids. But I'd say more often than not, I see people looking unhealthy rather than healthy.

  8. I in no way meant to insinuate that the people in Latin America were all healthy and living off the land. Sorry if it came across that way.

    I think there is a whole 'nother blog post here about what happens when you "modernize" the culture. According to the research done by the WAPF, the indigenous peoples of the world had better health on their native diets. The poor people in Latin America who have to fend for themselves apparently are closer to their native diets than those being "helped" by the wealthy who bring the garbage from the developed world into their diets. And water vs. soda? You can't make bank on water.

    And I still say that the Beautiful Peruvian Girl (do you know her name?) is an example of the kind of natives that Weston Price found when he did his research.

  9. This whole discussion is actually very representative of Weston Prices findings. He saw cultures that were being modernized and the health of the people rapidly deteriorated. Even if people are eating traditional, whole foods, Coke will undo all of that. And the thing is, Coke is also a replacement for something that people have forgotten. Many parts of the world have had to deal with bad water, and the solution is to drink something safer. Now, that's Coke, but it used to be fermented drinks. In Europe hundreds of years ago, everyone drank beer or wine or numerous other fermented drinks and fresh milk (and fermented milks). Fermentation makes the water safe. The beer wasn't like what we have now-- there was way more variety and difference of alcohol levels ("small beer" has less alcohol and they drank it for breakfast). They would add a little water to wine so that they could drink more of it, but the alcohol would kill the bad stuff in the water. Add to that numerous other local ferments that no one even remembers. But no one makes that stuff anymore, and they have to drink something, so they drink pop.

    It's just like the Amish around here-- they've lost so much to industrialization, even though they try to avoid it. You would think they'd be so healthy living off the land as they do (and the groups who truly do, are), but most of them eat so much sugar and white flour (multiple desserts with literally EVERY meal), that it doesn't matter how much butter and raw milk and grass-fed meat they consume. They often have terrible health and bone structure.

    Everyone now is programed to forget that our bodies need NUTRITION, not just fuel. Garbage in, garbage out.

  10. Sorry Mom, if we're totally hijacking your post here, but it's a great discussion! :-D

  11. I like it!
    I'm learning stuff. Like your comment about water alternatives. Really informative and interesting. Thanks for that!


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