Wednesday, August 01, 2012

Chapter 21: Practical Application of Primitive Wisdom

Continuing my review of Nutrition and Physical Degeneration by Weston A. Price...

If an interested person's time was limited, a reading of chapters 16 and the present chapter (21) would be sufficient to gain the gist of Weston Price's observations and conclusions as well as be of help in nutritional thinking so that a person can make appropriate changes in their diet.

As a sort of summary of the previous few chapters, Price writes:
One of the most urgent changes in our viewpoint should be to look upon the assortment of physical, mental and moral distortions as due, in considerable part, to nutritional disturbances in one or both parents which modify the development of the child, rather than to accepted factors in the inheritance. (p359)
This is the same now, as then. The general thinking in our society is that physical and mental problems are random "genetic" events without cause and I'm not sure there is room at all for acceptance of the concept of moral distortion... I think it has shifted entirely into the realm of mental health. But it's not as if there isn't contemporary evidence: I heard the other day on the radio about school lunch programs not only helping children's physical needs, but also teachers remarked how hungry children who were admitted to this food aid had increased attention in the classroom and their grades improved. I suspect if pressed, we might find that these children were also less irritable and thus less likely to be involved in problems with their peers. I don't think that Price was trying to say that proper nutrition would solve all of society's ills, but it is a basic starting point that would go a long way; and yet I can't help but notice his constant references to the lack of prisons and asylums in traditional societies.

I think we know far less than admitted about heredity, genetics and the like. I recall my mother asking a doctor when I was 10 or 12 years old about whether I was in danger of passing on my Beckwith-Wiedemann Syndrome. He didn't think so based on my relative health at the time, but urged me to get tested further before having children. Now I realize that he had no clue whatsoever, but as a doctor, was not able to admit that. In the first half of the 20th century there were many forced sterilization programs for "defective" people. Perhaps if I had lived at that time I would have been included in one of those programs? But even back then Price was able to observe that these were unnecessary and senseless:
The normal determining factors that are of hereditary origin may be interrupted in a given generation but need not become fixed characteristics in the future generations. This question of parental nutrition, accordingly, constitutes a fundamental determining factor in the health and physical perfection of the offspring. (p368)
Note the difference between the teeth of each sister in these photos:

Fig.133 In this family the first child to the left was most injured in the formative period as shown in the form of the face and dental arches above and x-rays below. The first child required fifty-three hours of labor and the second three hours, preceded by special nutrition of the mother.
Fig. 133 shows a striking example of how poor nutrition of the mother during pregnancy shows up in the children. The child on the left most obviously has crooked teeth but also narrow nostrils when compared to her younger sister on the right whose mother had proper nutrition during the pregnancy. Now the chance for a North American woman to have proper nutrition during pregnancy is relatively low because as a society we have no special foods for pregnant women other than prenatal vitamins. Price notes how traditional societies all had a special set of foods for young women and pregnant women to supply their bodies with the extra nutrients required of the demands of having children. It seems in our contemporary society maternity clothing is given more importance than nutrition. And when the pregnant woman's food is talked about it's usually in a joking manner about pickles and ice cream or about how much she eats.

One of our modern tendencies is to select the foods we like, particularly those that satisfy our hunger without our having to eat much, and, another is to think in terms of the few known vitamins and their effects. The primitive tendency seems to have been to provide an adequate factor of safety for all emergencies by the selection of a sufficient variety and quantity of the various natural foods to prevent entirely most of our modern affections. Their success demonstrates that their program is superior to ours. (p382)

Now in North America unless we are part of a recent immigrant family, there is generally little cultural tradition when it comes to food, so the question naturally arises: What pattern of eating should one follow?" Price recognized the nutritive factors which gave rise to the excellent health of the peoples he studied. It was not because of what was on the menu that they were healthy, but because of what was in the food on the menu. So he encourages the reader: "It is not necessary to adopt the foods of any particular racial stock, but only to make our nutrition adequate in all its nutritive factors to the primitive nutritions."(p379)

Weston Price believed that tooth decay (and poor health in general) was caused by violations of the laws of nature... I would say that nature was created by God and he is the architect of our bodies - therefore we must live in this world following the ways of God if we are to be healthy. As a farmer, I see everyday that different animals have different food needs in order to fulfill their different nutritional needs, and it is my responsibility as their caretaker to ensure that all these needs are met. Shall I not do the same for me and my family?

"Tooth decay is not only unnecessary, but an indication of our divergence from Nature's fundamental laws of life and health."p.379

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