By: Mau – Northampton, MA
Ok, so this isn’t entirely about your teeth. It’s more about a dentist named Weston A. Price. You can read about him here but the quick/short: In 1939 he published a book called Nutrition and Physical Degeneration that compared primitive and modern diets and their effects on human health. He was perplexed by the incidence of crowded teeth found among his patients in the US and set out to remote villages around the world to find people with beautiful teeth. He strongly believed that there was a correlation between straight, white, cavity-free teeth and the nutrient density of the foods the children ate while growing up in those places. He travelled to remote villages in europe, africa, polynesia, australia and worked with isolated peoples that had not incorporated processed industrial foods into their diet. Among these peoples he found that few had signs of tooth decay or crowded teeth. All of the communities ate traditional nutrient-dense whole foods and a good amount of healthy (free-range) animal fats rich in vitamins that can only be absorbed in the presence of dietary fat. Basically, they ate the foods that people have thrived on for countless millennia.
Some of the foods:
- Organ Meats – In particular – Liver. It has the highest concentration of nutrients of any part of the animal.
- Fermented foods – Living sauerkrauts, kimchee, pickles, even beer and sourdough breads. It’s important to distinguish between pasteurized (cooked) pickles and real pickled stuff. The pickles and kraut you get at the market are usually pasteurized – no good. Whole Foods Market sells some live – probiotic fermented stuff. Fermented veggies are a super-probiotic. They help boost your immune system and help supplement the bacteria in your gut that plays a major role in breaking down the food you eat. Fermented bread – If you eat bread try to get a traditional sourdough. The bacteria in sourdough predigests the gluten and makes the bread easier for you to digest. Obviously the bacteria is killed once the bread is baked but they did their work while the bread was rising.
- Quality fats – Olive oil (not to be used in cooking except at low temps) and Ghee (indian clarified butter from grass-fed cows) is best. Ghee doesn’t have lactose or casein – the two most common irritants in milk. Ghee also has a high smoking point which makes it great for cooking. If your cooking fat has reached smoking point you’ve likely destroyed it as it begins to oxidize and breaks down into a variety of reactive substances – free radicals. Fat in the diet, especially good fat, is not the culprit for weight gain. Again, saturated fat has very little to do with weight gain! Read this to learn how you’ve been duped about saturated fat and cholesterol. Lack of movement and refined carbs (sugar, starch) are to mostly blame. Eating good fats like grass-fed butter, ghee, and olive oil is essential for the absorption of vitamins A, D, E, and K – especially important for children, mommies, and people recovering from illness.
- Soaked/Spouted grains – It’s a bit of extra foresight but if you have rice, oats, and especially quinoa, they should be soaked for a minimum of 4 hours – best overnight. For pregnant women I recommend a low-grain diet but a couple times a week grains are ok. I anticipate my meals for the following day and often leave a bowl of quinoa soaking from the night before – best with a splash of lemon juice, or vinegar. After soaking make sure to rinse well. Why soak? Grains are seeds. Seeds protect themselves from the guts of animals by producing phytates – a set of phytochemicals that make them indigestible and that bind to nutrients in your digestive tract. When you soak grains (especially if you soak them long enough to sprout) you trick them into converting these phytates into enzymes that actually help you digest them. Plus, they cook faster and with less water if you soak them. Remember to rinse before you cook them.
- Fish – small fish is best. Sardines accumulate almost little or no mercury, they’re somewhat sustainably fished, and they’re high in omega 6 and 3’s. Also, you usually eat the whole fish and all it’s organs which contain all the good minerals and vitamins.
- Broths – Bone broth and fish broth. Get some bones from your fish vendor – ask them for fish heads/carcasses and stick them in a crock pot overnight with celery, carrots, onions, garlic and a tablespoon or two of vinegar or lemon juice. This is an awesome immune-builder and nutrient dense addition to any meal.
- Plenty of dark and colorful veggies – Green leafy veggies, roots, legumes, etc. are the vitamin/phytonutrient factories and provide your body with building blocks for everything from digestion to hormone production, to bone strengthening, to brain function. Have them lightly steamed, stick them in your broths, roast some sweet potatoes, turnips, and beets and cover them in butter or ghee.
This list is not exhaustive but it can give you a basic toolkit for stocking your health-building toolkit.