Ours is But To Do Or Die

“Poirot,” I said. “I have been thinking.”
“An admirable exercise my friend. Continue it.”

–Agatha Christie

In the last post we asked the question: WHY? Why so much sugar in a recipe when it wasn’t necessary for taste or texture?

Today I have a new “why.” It comes from this article, a form of which has come out on every major American news agency going. If you don’t care to read it all, I’ll summarize: you should now brush your baby’s teeth with fluoride toothpaste so he won’t get a cavity before he’s five, like most kids do.

WHY? Why should I give fluoride to a small child? Why has the cavity situation grown so dire that kids are developing them that young? I want to give the American Dental Association the benefit of the doubt. I can’t imagine it’s fun for a dentist to treat a five-year-old’s cavity, so I understand the dentists’ perspective here.

But you know, there is something else you can do to ensure your child doesn’t get cavities: don’t feed her enormous amounts of grain and sugar.

Did you know that anthropologists can look at the teeth of an ancient human and tell you instantly whether that person was from an agricultural society or a hunter/gatherer society? The ones eating grains have cavities, tooth decay, gum disease bacteria, and jaw malformations. The ones from hunter/gatherer societies that were not over-eating carbohydrates have good strong teeth and healthy mouths. This is taken so much for granted that when remains were recently found of a hunter/gatherer group in which tooth decay was rampant, it caused a huge stir. “THIS PROVES IT ISN’T THE FAULT OF GRAINS!!!” all the headlines implied.

Until, of course, you read the articles all the way through. As long as meat and fat are the staple food? Great teeth. Once the people started grinding acorns and pine nuts into flour? Fire up that drill!

That first study I linked to was one done on the graves of two populations living in the same area of what is today Kentucky. Both groups were Native Americans. Neither had contact with Europeans. One group was from Indian Knoll. Their diet was mainly meat. The other group lived in Hardin Village. Their primary foods were corn, beans, and squash. They ate some wild plants and animals; however meat was not a substantial part of their diet. There were almost 300 skeletons from each group to analyze. So here’s what they saw in the burial ground of the village, as opposed to those from the knoll:

  1. Higher infant mortality
  2. Lower life expectancy
  3. Iron deficiencies so severe they would have been very painful
  4. More frequent and more severe periods of malnutrition (evidenced by lines in bone and teeth)
  5. An average of 6.47 cavities per adult male and 8.52 for adult females (as opposed to .73 and .91 at the knoll)

Sounds like a real barrel of fun over at the village!

Here’s another one: 34 skeletons from Europe during a transition from meat-based to grain-based diets showed no decay of the meat-eaters’ teeth, and no bacteria associated with tooth decay were present. The same cannot be said for the poor grain eaters.

I could add a lot more, but I’ll sum up with the work of Dr. Weston Price, a dentist from the early 1900s. Dr. Price was not satisfied merely treating dental problems after they happened. He really wanted to prevent them. He went on a ten-year, round-the-world trip to visit hundreds of cities in fourteen different countries. What were the people eating in places without tooth decay, cavities, or gum disease?

It turns out they were eating all kinds of different things in the particulars, but exactly the same things in general. They all ate primarily animal products, little or no grain, no sugar, and lots of salt. Dr. Price took samples of all their foods and compared their nutrient ratios to the standard American diet of the day. How did they compare? Four times the levels of fat-soluble vitamins and minerals and ten times the levels of water-soluble ones.

In some areas he could compare those still eating their traditional diet with those who had adopted the Western diet high in sugar and flour. Unsurprisingly, the ones on the Western diets were much less healthy, including the fact that their teeth were rotting out of their mouths.

And of course we all know by now, I hope, that sugar–both glucose and fructose–and tooth health don’t mix. Elmhurst College will clue you in on all the gory details if you want. Or here, at the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. Of course the AJCN, after telling you how sugars make your teeth actually demineralize (which sounds like an excellent weapon for the next Star Wars movie–the Demineralization Ray!) goes on to tell us that the obvious answer to all this is to ingest large quantities of fluoride.


This is the dental equivalent of the old lady who swallowed the fly.

And now they want you to give fluoride to your infant.

BUT YOUR CHILD WILL DIE OF MALNUTRITION WITHOUT GRAINS!!! I hear the screeching already. So we’re going to talk about that, and we’re going to look at some diets.

The main reason that grains are believed to be necessary for nutrition is that they have been “fortified” or “enriched.” That means the gov’mint tells those who grow them to spray them down with chemical variations of vitamins and minerals. That’s how a box of Cocoa Puffs–which among any sensible people would not qualify as “food”–can have 50% of your daily RDA of manganese.

If your child eats the Standard American Diet (SAD), then yep, he or she would indeed be malnourished without all the spray vitamins. If he or she eats a healthy diet, you don’t need all that garbage.

Hang on, we’re going to illustrate this.

To help me, I’ve composed two diets. One is based on the SAD. I figured it using two meals offered at a typical elementary school in a prosperous area of Knoxville, Tennessee. It also takes into consideration that the average child in America eats 0 vegetables (french fries don’t count) and 1/2 a serving of fruit in a day.

For my other diet, I’ve browsed some Paleo/Primal forums to find real meals that real moms and dads are feeding their children, grain– and sugar– free. Then I did a lot of math.

So much math that that I lost all control of the length of this post. So to spare you, we’re going to end here for today. Tomorrow I’ll post the results for our two kids–SAD Sally and Primal Patty. It’ll be at least as much fun as tooth decay. I promise!

But now is a timely moment to remember the caveat you can see on the home page: I’m not a nutritionist, a doctor, a pop star, Rosie O’Donnell, Paul McCartney, Gweynth Paltrow, or anyone else who is allowed to freely say whatever they think about eating and nutrition: so any nutrition information I give is Use At Your Own Risk. Which is as it should be. Just because Paul McCartney is a vegetarian, or Rosie O’Donnell is screaming obscenities at an American Heart Association low-fat benefit doesn’t mean you should do anything they say. Read for yourself.

(Speaking of Rosie, her dramatic recent weight loss came after gastric bypass surgery, which, being rich, she can afford. Of course what no one will tell us poor and middle class fat people is that after such a surgery you are forced onto…wait for it…a low-carb diet.)


Plato says he’s hungry

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