The human bone structure is shrinking. 75% of Americans have some degree of overcrowded teeth. According to paleoarcheological research this is not a modern phenomenon but is at least 10 000 years in the making. (1)
Scientists say this is evidence of evolution in action. We began cooking our food, requiring less chewing action. Soft food = smaller jaw line, less room for teeth. Other scientists presume it is sexual selection; a prehistoric preference for smaller faces. (2) And I guess a preference for crooked teeth?
Here’s the problem: Health science is not talking to evolutionary science.
Anthropologists have found no raw food human culture. All cultures cook their food now so therefore all should have some statistics of smaller jaw lines and crooked teeth, yet this is not the case. Only certain cultures suffer crooked teeth. It would make more sense to seek out how these cultures differ from those with perfect teeth and wide strong jawbones.
More compelling is that the cultures with great teeth do not brush them, and they do not suffer decay either. Something has gone terribly wrong in our culture, but that is evident in more than just our oral health.
The teeth are a direct visual of the health of the body. Straight white teeth become crooked and decayed when people shift their diet from a natural unprocessed one to a Western processed one. How can that have anything to do with evolution?
The bones throughout the body start to demineralise and shrink, the jaw being the most obvious because as mentioned, we can see that shrinkage in the overcrowding of the teeth.
Perfect teeth shifting out of line with advancing age cannot be explained by evolution either.
Therefore I challenge the idea that bone shrinkage is evolutionary. I suggest it is dietary. Further to that, we can avoid or correct shrinkage. Evolution on the other hand, cannot be avoided or corrected in one lifetime. Evolutionary changes take hundreds of thousands of years at least.
Evolution also suggests there is nothing we personally did to cause the dental problems neither is there anything we can do to fix them, except perhaps put braces on teeth and assume when it happens to our family that we were just the unlucky recipients of evolution (and perhaps console ourselves with the idea we are more “evolved” than our perfect-toothed contemporaries).
Humans were originally nomadic by necessity, we moved around to new food sources. Much like other primates, there was no need to travel very far if we, the naked ape, stayed in the warm tropics surrounded by trees dripping with succulent fruits all year round.
Paleoarcheological evidence that humans were frugivorous (ate mostly fruit) has existed since 1979. If we originally ate juicy fruits, according to the “use it or lose it” weak jaw theory our jaw line should grow, not shrink because we have eaten meat for so long now. Meat is arguably tougher to chew than any raw fruit or vegetable.
Dr Alan Walker and his associates, anthropologists at John Hopkins University, using the most modern electronic microscopic equipment, state: “Preliminary studies of fossil teeth have led to the startling suggestion that our early human ancestors (Australopithecus) were not predominantly meat-eaters or even eaters of seeds, shoots, leaves or grasses, nor were they omnivorous. Instead they appear to have subsisted chiefly on a diet of fruit. Every tooth examined from the hominids of the 12 million year period leading up to Homo Erectus appeared to be that of a fruit-eater.”
– NY Times, May 1979 (12)
“The natural food of man, judging from his structure, appears to consist principally of the fruits, roots, and other succulent parts of vegetables. His hands afford every facility for gathering them; his short but moderately strong jaws on the other hand, and his canines being equal only in length to the other teeth, together with his tuberculated molars on the other, would scarcely permit him either to masticate herbage, or to devour flesh, were these condiments not previously prepared by cooking.” (13)
The Animal Kingdom Arranged in Conformity With its Organization – George Cuvier.
This evidence was inconvenient to the “knuckle-dragging, grunting, hunting cave man” theory of our ancestors, and subsequently ignored when formulating ever new theories on the origins of humanity. The hunter-gatherer part of our history is not really history either… many cultures still live that way. I’m not suggesting that wasn’t part of our history, I am suggesting it isn’t the full story. To suggest the hunter-gatherer part of our history was the full story is as short-sighted as suggesting 21st century living only resembles that found in New York.
Science says we had an ape-like beginning in the African tropics. Evolutionists agree that originally we ate exclusively raw food; after all it is the basis of the theory that our jaw started to shrink due to cooking. However, as the evidence shows, we did more changes to our diet than start to cook it. Put a lion cub and a human baby in a room with a bunny and chances are good the human will try to cuddle it and the lion will try to eat it. Unlike our feline friends we are not programmed to see “food” when we see small animals, and are ill-equipped to catch and eviscerate one without tools, and without fire the whole deal lacks appeal, so logic also supports Paleo evidence that we were frugivores before we were hunters.
Although geneticists have likened humans to chimps and orangutans in the past, currently the evidence suggests we are most like gorillas. (19) (20) Gorillas are frugivores, eating only about 5% animal products mostly in the form of insects. Bonobos are also considered the closest to us, and they are the only other primate to have sex in the missionary position and are socially the most similar to us; bonobos eat more fruit and less leaves than gorillas. (14) Neither of those apes seems to have trouble converting the amino acids in greens into muscle… I sure wouldn’t mess with a gorilla.
The fossils studied by Dr Walker show we did indeed eat like our closest fellow primates, but more compellingly, the fossils resembled modern humans. They didn’t look ape-like or even Neanderthal at all. The differences are the same as those found today between races across the globe.
Millions of years ago there were people who looked just like us?
And they were frugivores?
At what point did we move from the frugivorous into the omnivorous diet we have now? And why? Have we had time to evolve to adapt to such huge dietary changes? Is our health suffering because we are so far removed from our biologically ideal food?
Our ancestors left the tropics, and to this day we remain the only catarrhine primate living outside the tropic zone. (7) This alone forced us to alter our eating and living habits dramatically, because we are not meant to be cold. We “took the tropics with us” in the form of clothing, fire and elaborate shelter. We are the only animal unsuited to most of the climates we choose without altering our environment drastically to survive.
We obviously didn’t evolve to adapt to our new environments yet we evolved to adapt to the new diet? I’m not convinced.
Ten thousand years ago something immense happened: agriculture. (5)(6) Agriculture allowed humans to congregate in larger groups, around central plantations. Nomadic life largely ceased, and a grain diet began… so did cities and the social issues that were the beginnings of laws and extrinsic government. Many people were fed due to the high calorie content of grains, but it is a nutrient poor food for humans. Grains are biologically bird food, and birds have a gizzard to digest them and deal with the nutrient inhibitors such as phytate; we do not. Grain consumption has reached the level where today most people would be lost if we took away the pastas, breads, cakes, and other grain-flour products from their diet. Fruits and vegetables are an afterthought.
Grains in their natural state – grass seeds – fail every single point of the biologically appropriate human food test, which is the only reliable indicator of an appropriate human food because although science changes its mind with each new discovery, our taste buds do not.
This test can only be done on an item as nature designed it: wild, raw, unprocessed and completely unaltered.
Biologically Appropriate Human Food Test
- Sight: Does the item stand out and draw the (human) eye?
- Smell: Does the item have a pleasant odour?
- Taste: Is the item sweet and/or a little sour, and/or pleasant? Does it lack bitterness? Do you like it?
- Child: Does an infant or child eat it without coercion?
- Ease: Is it easy to pick and is it easy to chew?
- Desire: Do you want to eat it?
Compare an apple to a grass seed using that test above. Humans don’t eat grains in the wild. Frankly, we’d be hard pressed not to break a tooth biting into one. To make a grain palatable, it is one of the most processed of all our food items… it is ground so we can chew it, wet so it is malleable, shaped so pleasing to the eye, cooked, and finally slathered with other foods for flavour. Ironically, the items used to flavour grains are usually biologically appropriate human foods, like tomatoes (fruit) and herbs (tasty greens). Perhaps if we skipped the grain and just ate more of those fruits and leaves until we reached caloric load, we wouldn’t need supplement pills anymore. Just as a radical idea.
Food for thought: primates do not drink very often. Our mouths and tongues do not lap like carnivores, they suck. Sucking is perfect for an animal that derives all its water filtered through juicy, high water content foods. Fruit also has high caloric content.
Grains are shaping up to be the root cause of many health issues in our culture, gluten grains being the worst offenders. (8) Blocking mineral absorption, feeding unhealthy bacteria in the gut, peptides entering the bloodstream, their effect is insidious and systemic. Gluten grains contain opioids that effectively render them addictive drugs, too. (18)(9) Try quitting grains if you doubt that.
Our lifestyle shifted in several more key ways 400 years ago including processed sugar. The stereotypical medieval peasant was as malnourished and prone to disease as any poverty-stricken African stereotype today.
The White Euro Powerhouse eventually clawed her way out of that dark period of history with England’s acquisition of other countries and the resources within them allowing a more diverse diet and other symptoms of affluence. The late 1800’s saw a sharp decline in most diseases in Western countries, long before vaccines or antibiotics and regardless of whether it was a vitamin deficiency (scurvy), bacterium (Scarlett fever) or virus (measles). Click the following charts to open in a separate window.
Though plumbing, better hygiene and more food allowed better health and longer life than ever noted in recorded history, we seem to forget that we are not thousands of years old… we are millions of years old. We really don’t know how long and how healthfully humans can live if conceived and raised on a totally human appropriate diet and climate.
Another consideration for the teeth connected to diet is mouth breathing. Mouth breathing prevents the natural push of the tongue (consisting of eight very strong muscles) against the roof of the mouth; without this force the result is often the common “long” modern face with narrow jaw, large nose and crooked teeth. (15)
The jaw should grow forward, not downward. Correcting diet and mouth habits in childhood will result in the strong, forward jaw line, cheekbones and general facial development that is more attractive to members of our species.
It will also open up the airways at the back of the throat, preventing issues like snoring and sleep apnea.
If considering correcting teeth with orthodontics, keep in mind the finished result will include the look of the entire face, not just the teeth. Do not remove teeth, there are rarely too many teeth in a person’s head. Almost all of us are given the potential to fit all 32 teeth. Orthodontics typically aim to remove teeth to make room and then to push the top teeth backwards to meet the slack lower jaw. Instead, focus on pushing both jaws forward. Look into Orthotropics which focuses not just on correcting teeth but on the impact of the teeth and jaw on the look of the face.
You can download pdf’s, videos and general information for immediate application with your family from Buteyko Children.
Most mouth breathing habits originate from congestion. Congestion and rhinitis are also problems our culture suffers 100 fold over natural-living cultures. You can correct them with the same methods used for teeth. The body is a self-correcting machine. If given the right fragments it will create the perfect whole; we can never expect to replicate that level of intelligence nor perhaps even begin to understand it, but we must learn to trust it. For more on mouth breathing and the Butekyo method, go to Asthma and Low Carbon Dioxide.
The following pdf booklet contains some new and radical information: Become Dentally Self Sufficient
Th Problem: Nutrient Deficiency
Nutrient deficiencies are the biggest problem, not just for our modern teeth, but our general health. Phytates in grains bind to minerals especially, but also to certain vitamins. We don’t get enough sunshine, nor eat the livers of animals so our vitamin D is critically low – vitamin D is technically a hormone, and it pushes calcium into the bones and teeth. Vitamin A is also needed for teeth and bones, but with the complex pathway required to turn beta carotene from vegetable sources into usable vitamin A you need a well functioning system – arguably few have that these days. Amino acid consumption should be high, because although we eat more meat than many other cultures, most of the amino acids are unstable when heated. Which means unless you eat your meat raw, you are protein (amino acid) deficient. How ironic.
If all the previous info isn’t enough to chew on, let me mention the depleted soils within which our food is grown. “Wild” animals (including humans) do not have plantations, they have a self-sustaining, no maintenance “wilderness garden” where fallen leaves and rotting fruit all become part of the soil again. This nourishes the soil and nurtures the micro-organisms. These micro-organisms are essential to many processes such as the uptake of vitamins by the plant from the soil. Conventional farmers use pesticides which have rendered our soil dead wastelands. Bacteria is not our enemy, we are 90% bacteria, only 10% human. (16) (17) Potassium, phosphorus and nitrogen are the only nutrients farmers add to the soil which allows a plant to look green and healthy, but it is devoid of pretty much everything else like calcium, magnesium and silica. The soil once had all those elements, but we pull out the plants and take them away. Nature doesn’t work that way. Nature is symbiotic, give and take. When the fruit is ready, it will become brightly coloured and fragrant; humans love a good treasure hunt and we find and eat the fruit and spread the seed… everyone wins. No one is winning with conventional farming.
Suggestions Combining This Research into an Applicable System:
- Only breathe through the nose, never the mouth. Find tips on how to correct this even during colds here and here. Although a cheap and highly effective decongestant is to snort powdered cayenne pepper. (22) (23) Although I have done this dry, I prefer to put it in a drop or two of water in a teaspoon and snort it that way. Start with a few grains and increase until you have a slight burning sensation in the nose. The nose will open immediately and mucous will flush out so have a tissue handy. The effect can last all night or you may need a midnight refresh. It also helps migraines instantly. (21) You may find you can stop using it altogether after a week. And yes, when I first discovered this I also thought the last place one would want a burning chilli pepper is up one’s nose. But if children can do it without fuss, so can you. Sinus Buster is a brand of nasal spray that uses this technology as “capsaicin spray”. The cayenne on your herb shelf is just as effective.
- Eat a lot of raw foods. Cooking destroys nutrients and alters protein (amino acid) structure. Be cautious of tryptophan and the sulphur amino acids, lysine and methionine, they are completely destroyed by heat. If you only eat cooked food, you may need to supplement with those ones or you may suffer anxiety, depression, insomnia and other symptoms of neurotransmitter deficit.
- Eat a lot of fruit, especially bananas which are full of vitamin B6, essential for feel good chemicals in the brain and gut. Include non-sweet fruits like cucumbers, with skin on (silica).
- Eat plenty of greens. The body makes protein – with amino acids. The simpler the amino acid structure, the easier the body can cleave them apart and the less strain on the kidneys. The best amino acid sources are greens. 100 grams of beef contains 10% protein, 100 grams of spinach contains 12% protein. Juices and green smoothies help put large amounts of greens into the diet. Breast milk is 1 to 2% protein, which shows even humans needing the most protein for growth – babies – need much less than we’ve been led to believe. We don’t need more dead protein. We need better protein.
- Sweets attract children for a reason. The brain is 60% fat and runs on glucose. This means that infants growing a brain need fat and glucose. Breast milk is fatty and sweet, in fact, it is the sweetest of all the mammal milk by a large margin. Glucose remains brain fuel throughout life, and fruit is the best source of this because of the bonus nutrients. The chance we have evolved away from our biologically ideal diet is slim. Trust the child to lead you to the right food for his or her needs. Caution: Candy is no substitute.
- Eliminate grain consumption, especially gluten grains like wheat although research showed oats create more cavities at a faster rate than anything else.
- “Whole grains” sound healthy, but they’re not… in fact, they are worse. “Whole” simply means they still contain the hull. One of the problems with grains is that they interfere with mineral absorption due to the phytate content; most of the phytate is mostly in the hull of the grain (same with nuts). Fermented breads like real sourdough aren’t great, but they are better, as some of the gluten and phytate has been removed in the fermentation process. I say real because it must not be made with added yeast like conventional bread as sourdough ferments for days and that time is not necessary if yeast is used. Another way to remove a lot of phytate is to soak grains and nuts but it doesn’t remove all of it. Sprouting them is best, but be sure to only eat the sprout and not the hull of the grain that is left behind. Hence why sprouted breads can be problematic, they still contain the hulls. The biggest problem with even the most perfectly treated grain product like sourdough is that it fills you up leaving less room for nutrient rich food. Put another way, how high would you have to pile your plate with fruits and vegetables to fill the gap if you could not have grains? Exactly. You’d want to photograph that plateful for facebook it would look so abundant, alive and healthy.
- Seeds are not grains. Sunflower, chia and pumpkin seeds cause some debate in health circles so research for yourself. The main problem with seeds is the poor omega fats ratio. This is also a problem in nuts. Almonds have 2000 times more omega 6 than omega 3, for example. These kinds of ratios incite inflammation and a host of modern problems. Our change in recent decades from animal fats to nut and seed oils to cook with has a lot to answer for. Cooking wasn’t meant to happen but when we do cook we should use fats that are stable under heat and that contain more balanced ratios. Often all that is required to regain health is this simple switch to a less omega 6 rich diet. A main reason many raw foodies still struggle with health issues is because they have switched grains for nuts in the diet instead of accessing more calories with fruit instead. Instead of eating half a cupful of almonds why not just eat 5 bananas? Same calories, more vitamins, less fat, less omega 6; there are less minerals in bananas but the minerals in nuts are less accessible rendering them equal at best in minerals.
- Other foods that pass the natural food test are honey, eggs (preferably raw if well sourced and organic), many flowers like hibiscus and buds such as broccoli. Pregnant women often vomit at the thought of a bitter salad of greens. Choose buttery soft young lettuce over older, bitter lettuce. Trust your taste buds.
- If you cannot enjoy it without cooking it or processing it then it probably isn’t an ideal food so eat it in limited quantities and always processed or cooked the way it requires. The fad with raw foodies to eat raw meat, raw pumpkin and raw eggplant just seems like masochism to me.
- Animals eat fermented foods in the wild, even to the point where they become intoxicated with alcohol (hilarious video here). In our culture of antibiotics through the food chain, steroid medications and so on the friendly microorganisms in fermented foods are essential or we simply won’t function in certain areas. For example, gut bacteria make vitamin Bs, including B12, and the gut requires the bacterium Oxalobacter formigenes to break down oxalic acid or kidney stones will form. Every time we lay waste to bacteria with a dose of antibiotics we lose whole species… some may never return without a little help. Remember, we are 90% bacterial cells and only 10% human ones. We are more bacterial than we are human. (16)(17)
- Chew your greens well. Topical tooth contact with minerals also mineralises, so keep the minerals in contact with the tooth matrix as long as possible. Fluoride toothpaste attempts to mimic this, but the mineral complex found in greens is more effective, and even better than that: nature designed it. Greens, especially herbs, act as an antiseptic agent on the teeth and gums and even remineralise decaying teeth. A diet of only natural foods that incorporates greens chewed until liquid will result in healthy strong clean teeth and fresh breath.
- Only supplement with foods. Powdered seaweed as a source of calcium is a food. Rosehip capsules are a food source of vitamin C. Be cautious of supplements that only list the nutrient you want, but not the source, for example “retinyl palmitate” for vitamin A is NOT food, it is a synthetic chemical; however cod liver oil is a food, and a great source of biologically available vitamin A. A particularly good source of calcium and trace minerals in a very absorbed form is Lithothamnium Calcarea, an algae that can be bought in dried pill form now.
- Vitamin D production requires sunshine. Vit D is actually a hormone and acts upon myriad cellular processes. This is another good reason to avoid living in a cold climate. I believe we will one day discover sunlight meets several other essential needs but science has only found vitamin D… so far. A source of vitamin D is cod liver oil and it also provides vitamin A. Fermented raw cod liver oil from Green Pastures is the best out there.
- Avoid processed food. That is usually easy to spot because they are in packages. “Preserving” food just means preventing fungus and bacteria from breaking it down to rot. Remember, if a preservative can kill bacteria on a prune, it can kill it inside your body. Be wary of any food that does not rot within a week, unless it is an unripe fruit or a pumpkin. To slow the rot process down, find the north side of some bipolar magnets and put them north side up in the bottom of the fruit bowl and set the food on top. I am not sure how that works, but it does.
- Refurnish your mouth with probiotics for fresh breath and alkaline mouth. The healthy strain of Strep k12 will keep the unhealthy strep at bay and also keeps the teeth clean and cavities at bay. Studies show children with this strain of strep in their mouths don’t get strep throat. Similar studies show the breath of those with healthy strep colonies in the mouth is pleasant.
- Study Weston Price information for diet assistance. However you will notice the information on this page differs in some ways to the Price Foundation recommendations as I have included the paleontology evidence that goes further back in history, to our frugivorous fossils. Price only refers as far back as the healthier cultures studied in the last century. Price discovered just giving people foods rich in vitamins A and D and what he called Activator X (turned out to be vitamin K2) and minerals healed decayed teeth. The way he did this, in a nutshell, is with fermented cod liver oil, butter from cows raised on fast growing green pastures, animal fats such as lard and bone broths which have been steeping for one to three days for minerals. He also removed grains from their diet. This program remineralises teeth from the inside by remineralising the body and reversing the process of body systems stealing minerals from the teeth and bones.
- A note about minerals and bone broth: Very little science can be found to back the idea that bone broths contain a good source of minerals. This study (24) discovered bone broths are quite disappointing sources of minerals. More minerals are added to the broth with the vegetables added than the bones, and more acid added did not result in more minerals. Having said that, perhaps the quantity is not the issue but the quality – perhaps this approach worked because the minerals were highly absorbed by the body. Adding eggshells added some more minerals, however a better way to access the calcium in eggshells is to sit an eggshell in apple cider vinegar until it is completely dissolved and then use the liquid as a dressing.
Extra tiny Nutshell of essential info:
– Ingest more minerals
– make sure those minerals get into your bones and blood with vitamins, especially A, C and D.
– get minerals in contact with teeth
– balance your microorganisms, in the gut AND in the mouth
– eat a lot of raw greens for amino acids,
– even if you eat raw meat increase raw greens because meat is high in acidifying minerals like phosphorus, greens are full of alkalising minerals like magnesium.
References and Footnotes
(8) Cereal Grains: Humanity’s Double-Edged Sword, Loren Cordain
(9) Dangerous Grains: Why Gluten Cereal Grains May Be Hazardous To Your Health, James Braly M.D., Ron Hoggan M.A.
(10) Teeth Show Fruit Was The Staple (NY Times)
(13) The animal kingdom arranged in conformity with its organization – George Cuvier
(14) Bonobo Nutrition