Nutrition and Physical Degeneration

A Comparison of Primitive and Modern Diets
and Their Effects



This text provides a new approach to some problems of modern degeneration. Instead of the customary procedure of analysing the expressions of degeneration, a search has been made for groups to be used as controls who are largely free from these affections.

After spending several years approaching this problem by both clinical and laboratory research methods, I interpreted the accumulating evidence as strongly indicating the absence of some essential factors from our modern program, rather than the presence of injurious factors. This immediately indicated the need for obtaining controls. To accomplish this it became necessary to locate immune groups which were found readily as isolated remnants of primitive racial stocks in different parts of the world. A critical examination of these groups revealed a high immunity to many of our serious affections so long as they were sufficiently isolated from our modern civilization and living in accordance with the nutritional programs which were directed by the accumulated wisdom of the group. In every instance where individuals of the same racial stocks who had lost this isolation and who had adopted the foods and food habits of our modern civilization were examined, there was an early loss of the high immunity characteristics of the isolated group. These studies have included a chemical analysis of foods of the isolated groups and also of the displacing foods of our modern civilization.

These investigations have been made among the following primitive racial stocks including both isolated and modernized groups: the Swiss of Switzerland, the Gaelics in the Outer and Inner Hebrides, the Eskimos of Alaska, the Indians in the far North, West and Central Canada, Western United States and Florida, the Melanesians and Polynesians on eight archipelagos of the Southern Pacific, tribes in eastern and central Africa, the Aborigines of Australia, Malay tribes on islands north of Australia, the Maori of New Zealand and the ancient civilizations and their descendants in Peru both along the coast and in the Sierras, also in the Amazon Basin. Where available the modernized whites in these communities also were studied. There have been many important unexpected developments in these investigations. While a primary quest was to find the cause of tooth decay which was established quite readily as being controlled directly by nutrition, it rapidly became apparent that a chain of disturbances developed in these various primitive racial stocks starting even in the first generation after the adoption of the modernized diet and rapidly increased in severity with expressions quite constantly like the characteristic degenerative processes of our modern civilization of America and Europe. While tooth decay has proved to be almost entirely a matter of the nutrition of the individual at the time and prior to the activity of that disease, a group of affections have expressed themselves in physical form. These have included facial and dental arch changes which, heretofore, have been accounted for as results of admixtures of different racial stocks. My investigations have revealed that these same divergencies from normal are reproduced in all these various racial stocks while the blood is still pure. Indeed, these even develop in those children of the family that are born after the parents adopted the modern nutrition.

Applying these methods of study to our American families, we find readily that a considerable percentage of our families show this same deterioration in the younger members. The percentage of individuals so affected in our American communities in which I have made studies varies through a wide range, usually between 25 per cent to 75 per cent. A certain percentage of this affected group has not only these evidences of physical injury, but also personality disturbances, the most common of which is a lower than normal mental efficiency and acuteness, chiefly observed as so-called mental backwardness which includes the group of children in the schools who are unable to keep up with their classmates. Their I.Q.’s are generally lower than normal and they readily develop inferiority complexes growing out of their handicap. From this group or parallel with it a certain percentage develop personality disturbances which have their expression largely in unsocial traits. They include the delinquents who at this time are causing so much trouble and concern because of evidence of increase in their numbers. This latter group has been accounted for largely on the basis of some conditioning experience that developed after the child had reached an impressionable age. My investigations are revealing a physical structural change and therefore, an organic factor which precedes and underlies these conditioning influences of the environment. The fact that a government survey has shown that 66 per cent of the delinquents who have been treated in the best institutions and released as cured, later have developed their unsocial or criminal tendencies, strongly emphasizes the urgent necessity that if preventive methods are to be applied these must precede and forestall the primary injuries themselves.

While it has been known that certain injuries were directly related to an inadequate nutrition of the mother during the formative period of the child, my investigations are revealing evidence that the problem goes back still further to defects in the germ plasms as contributed by the two parents. These injuries, therefore, are related directly to the physical condition of one or of both of these individuals prior to the time that conception took place.

A very important phase of my investigations has been the obtaining of information from these various primitive racial groups indicating that they were conscious that such injuries would occur if the parents were not in excellent physical condition and nourishment. Indeed, in many groups I found that the girls were not allowed to be married until after they had had a period of special feeding. In some tribes a six months period of special nutrition was required before marriage. An examination of their foods has disclosed special nutritional factors which are utilized for this purpose.

The scope of this work, accordingly, becomes of direct interest in many fields including the various branches of the healing arts, particularly medicine and dentistry, and the social organizations that are concerned with betterment of the racial stock. Similarly, the educational groups are concerned directly since, if we are to stem the tide by passing new information on to the parents of the new generation, it must be done prior to the time the emergency shall arise. This involves a system of education directed particularly to the high school age pupils.

The data that are being presented in the following chapters suggest the need for reorientation in many problems of our modern social organization. The forces involved in heredity have in general been deemed to be so powerful as to be able to resist all impacts and changes in the environment. These data will indicate that much that we have interpreted as being due to heredity is really the result of intercepted heredity. While great emphasis has been placed on the influence of the environment on the character of the individual, the body pattern has generally been supposed to require a great number of impacts of a similar nature to alter the design. The brain has been assumed to be similarly well organized in most individuals except that incidents in the life of the individual such as disappointments, fright, etc., are largely responsible for disturbed behavior. Normal brain functioning has not been thought of as being as biologic as digestion. The data provided in the succeeding chapters indicate that associated with disturbances in the development of the bones of the head, disturbances may at the same time occur in the development of the brain. Such structural defects usually are not hereditary factors even though they appear in other members of the family or parents. They are products of the environment rather than hereditary units transmitted from the ancestry.

In the light of these data important new emphasis is placed on the quality of the germ cells of the two parents as well as on the environment provided by the mother. The new evidence indicates that the paternal contribution may be an injured product and that the responsibility for defective germ cells may have to be about equally divided between the father and mother. The blending of races has been blamed for much of the distortion and defects in body form in our modern generation. It will be seen that these face changes occur in all the pure blood races studied in even the first generation, after the nutrition of the parents has been changed.

The origin of personality and character appear in the light of the newer data to be biologic products and to a much less degree than usually considered pure hereditary traits. Since these various factors are biologic, being directly related to both the nutrition of the parents and to the nutritional environment of the individuals in the formative and growth period any common contributing factor such as food deficiencies due to soil depletion will be seen to produce degeneration of the masses of people due to a common cause. Mass behavior therefore, in this new light becomes the result of natural forces, the expression of which may not be modified by propaganda but will require correction at the source. Nature has been at this process of building human cultures through many millenniums and our culture has not only its own experience to draw from but that of parallel races living today as well as those who lived in the past. This work, accordingly, includes data that have been obtained from several of Nature’s other biologic experiments to throw light on the problems of our modern white civilization.

In presenting the evidence I am utilizing photographs very liberally. A good illustration is said to be equivalent to a thousand words of text. This is in keeping too with the recent trend in journalism. The pictures are much more convincing than words can be, and since the text challenges many of the current theories, the most conclusive evidence available is essential.

Owing to the many requests received for slides or the loan of my negatives, provision is being made for supplying a limited number of slides of the illustrations in either black and white or in color. Slides of other subjects are available.Q13



I.  Why Seek Wisdom from Primitive Races
II.  The Progressive Decline of Modern Civilization
III.  Isolated and Modernized Swiss
IV.  Isolated and Modernized Gaelics
V.  Isolated and Modernized Eskimos
VI.  Primitive and Modernized North American Indians
VII.  Isolated and Modernized Melanesians
VIII.  Isolated and Modernized Polynesians
IX.  Isolated and Modernized African Tribes
X.  Isolated and Modernized Australian Aborigines
XI.  Isolated and Modernized Torres Strait Islanders
XII.  Isolated and Modernized New Zealand Maori
XIII.  Ancient Civilizations of Peru
XIV.  Isolated and Modernized Peruvian Indians
XV.  Characteristics of Primitive and Modernized Dietaries
XVI.  Primitive Control of Dental Caries
XVII.  One Origin of Physical Deformities
XVIII.  Prenatal Nutritional Deformities and Disease Types
XIX.  Physical, Mental and Moral Deterioration
XX.  Soil Depletion and Plant and Animal Deterioration
XXI.  Practical Applications of Primitive Wisdom
Title: Nutrition and Physical Degeneration
Author: Weston A. Price
* A Project Gutenberg of Australia eBook *
eBook No.:  0200251h.html
Language:   English
Date first posted: 2002
Date most recently updated: April 2012

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