The narrowing of the face that occurs after a population has abandoned its native diet and embraced Western processed food continues to perplex the medical and dental establishments, which just can’t seem to make the connection between food and physical development. In Dr. Price’s day, scientists blamed lack of facial development on “race mixing,” a premise that Dr. Price soundly denounced. Today orthodontists blame crooked teeth on everything from genetics to thumb sucking to soft foods—that is, everything but the obvious decline in nutrient density in modern diets. Dr. Price’s studies led him to the conclusion that facial narrowing took place primarily when the three fat-soluble vitamins (vitamins A, D and the X Factor, now recognized as vitamin K2) became deficient in the diet, and modern science is beginning to prove him right. Researchers have shown that in rats, vitamin K deficiency during pregnancy results in “facial dysmorphology.” Vitamin K-dependent proteins concentrate in the nasal septal cartilage of the fetus. In humans, if vitamin K is not present in adequate amounts, or is blocked by drugs like warfarin, during the critical period of six to nine weeks gestation, the cartilage calcifies prematurely, resulting in “maxillonasal hypoplasia,” that is, underdevelopment of the maxilla, the bone that determines the shape of the middle third of the face (Australian Dental Journal 1994;39:2). Vitamin K depends on vitamins A and D for signaling, so all three vitamins are involved in the process of facial development. These discoveries point to the important of preparation for pregnancy with nutrient-dense foods, in order to build up stores for the critical early weeks of fetal development. Adequate spacing of children allows a mother to replenish these stores before the next child.
Prenatal Vitamin A Deficiency
When discussing the scourge of tuberculosis that plagued mankind during the 1930s, Price speculated that the same factors that resulted in underdevelopment of the face also caused the underdevelopment of the lungs. New research suggests the validity of Price’s theory. Researchers at Columbia University Medical Center have found evidence that prenatal vitamin A deficiency results in postnatal airway hyper-responsiveness, a hallmark of asthma. The study, conducted in mice, shows that short term deficit of vitamin A while the lung is forming can cause profound changes in the smooth muscle that surrounds the airways, causing the adult lungs to respond to environmental or pharmacological stimuli with excessive narrowing of the airways (Journal of Clinical Investigation 2014;124(2):801–81). “Researchers have long wondered what makes some people more susceptible than others to developing asthma symptoms when exposed to the same stimulus,” said Dr. Cardoso, senior author. “Our study suggests that the presence of structural and functional abnormalities in the lungs due to vitamin A deficiency during development is an important and underappreciated factor in this susceptibility. More generally, our findings highlight a point often overlooked in adult medicine, which is that adverse fetal exposures that cause subtle changes in developing organs can have lifelong consequences.” Previous studies had shown that retinoic acid (RA)—the active metabolite of vitamin A—is essential for normal lung development. We also know that vitamin A is essential for normal development of the kidneys and the heart—and probably every other organ as well. All the more reason to prepare for pregnancy by consuming foods rich in vitamin A like cod liver oil, liver and grass-fed butter—and continuing these foods during the entire pregnancy and lactation.
Father’s Diet May Affect Development
Remember that primitive peoples made sure that men (as well as women) consumed special nutrient-dense foods before conception, and science is confirming this practice as well. A study published in Nature Communications (10 December 2013) on mice linked folate deficiencies in the paternal diet to a higher rate of birth defects compared with those whose fathers received adequate folate. The findings raise concerns about dads unknowingly passing on harmful traits through molecular markers on the DNA of their sperm. These epigenetic markers don’t change the genetic information, but rather switch parts of the genome on and off. They are susceptible to environment and diet throughout fetal development, but were thought to be wiped clean before birth. Studies such as this one reveal that some of these markers may survive all the way from sperm to baby. “We should be looking carefully at the way a man is living his life,” said study author Sarah Kimmins. “Environmental exposure is remembered in the developing sperm and transmitted to offspring.” Since it takes human males about three months to produce fully grown sperm from stem cells, Kimmins speculates that men trying to have children should try cleaning up their diets even temporarily. “If a man has been living a bad, unhealthy lifestyle, he will not only improve his own health [by cleaning up his diet] but the health of his offspring,” she said.
Food Tech Startups
What’s the solution to a chicken and egg production system that wastes energy, pollutes the environment, causes disease outbreaks, uses routine antibiotics and confines chickens to tiny spaces? The thinking man’s answer is thousands of pasture-based farms, raising chickens in the outdoors. But the techies of the San Francisco Bay area have another idea: create a processed plant replacement for eggs. Funded by prominent Silicon Valley investors and Microsoft founder Bill Gates, startup company Hampton Creek Foods is developing egg-less mayonnaise, omelets, French toast, cookies and cakes. Sounds like a fresh new idea but we have seen this product before: it’s called Egg Beaters and in one famous study, rats fed Egg Beaters died while those fed real eggs thrived (Pediatrics. 1974 Apr;53(4):565-6). Another Gatesbacked company is targeting chicken itself. Beyond Meat sells “chickenfree strips,” which, they claim, have the taste and stringy texture of poultry but are made from plant protein. The company is also working on a product that mimics beef. These food substitutes are already for sale at trendy markets like Whole Foods so be sure to read labels! We’re guessing that the “plant protein” being used is soy.
Butter And Bacon
Butter sales are up! Per capita consumption is now at a fortyyear high of 5.6 pounds per person—a long way from the eighteen pounds per person consumed in 1900, but still a 65 percent increase since the year 2000. Bacon consumption is also on the rise, remaining in high demand over the last six years in spite of price increases totaling almost 22 percent. One senses panic on the part of the Diet Dictocrats in the form of Internet articles warning consumers not to put butter on their popcorn or to eat whole grains rather than bacon and eggs for breakfast. If you must eat butter, they say, then just have a little bit for the flavor you need. One food blogger claims that “there is a growing awareness that a little butter goes a long way. Instead of slathering the butter on. . . home cooks are recognizing that a pat or two can provide just enough flavor.” Fortunately lots of people just aren’t listening anymore, and are doing lots of slathering. The world will be a much happier and healthier place when we all insist on enough butter on our bread to show teeth marks.
Butterfat And The Waistline
The foes of full-fat dairy products like to warn consumers that butterfat and other animal fats will cause weight gain. But two recent studies have concluded that the consumption of whole fat dairy products is linked to reduced body fat. In one paper, middle aged men who consumed high-fat milk, butter and cream were significantly less likely to become obese over a period of twelve years compared to men who never or rarely ate high-fat dairy (Scandinavian Journal of Primary Health Care, 2013 Jun;31(2):89-94). The second study is a meta-analysis of sixteen observational studies aimed at exploring the hypothesis that high-fat dairy foods contribute to obesity and heart disease risk (European Journal of Nutrition 2013 Feb;52(1):1-24). The researchers concluded that the evidence does not support this hypothesis; in fact, the reviewers found that in most of the studies, high-fat dairy consumption was associated with a lower risk of obesity. Scientists are scratching their heads as to the reason—there’s the satiety factor in butter, for one, and possibly bio-active components that boosts metabolism. Vitamin A and iodine in butter make it a great food for thyroid function, and shortchain fatty acids in butter raise body temperature. But maybe it’s because butter is a real food that nourishes the whole body, and does not make us tempted to eat more and more, the way that butter substitutes do.
Dangerous Pasteurized Cheese
It’s kind of embarrassing. the FDA and state health departments are constantly warning us not to consume raw cheese, yet all the most recent dairy outbreaks have involved pasteurized cheese. In 2009 listeria in pasteurized Quargel acid-cured cheese sickened fourteen people and caused at least four deaths in Germany and Austria. In 2012, Frescolina Ricotta pasteurized cheese imported from Italy sickened twenty people and led to four deaths. Last year eighteen people got sick from pasteurized cheese in Australia, leading to two deaths and one miscarriage. The Crave Brothers listeria outbreak late in 2013 led to four hospitalizations, one death and one miscarriage. Now another listeria outbreak, this time from pasteurized queso fresco has sickened dozens including seven in Maryland. One person died in California. Why is the FDA not warning the public that pasteurized cheese—especially pasteurized soft cheese—is deadly and should never be consumed?
In an historic verdict, an Italian tribunal in Ferrara, Italy has awarded two hundred thousand Euros to the family of Francesco Finessi, a twenty-two-year-old soldier in the Italian Alpine special corps, who died in 2002. Francesco developed non- Hogdkins lymphoma after receiving “too many vaccines with very little time in between.” The sentence established a precedent long awaited by thousands of vaccine-injured soldiers. At the verdict, Francesco’s mother Santa Passaniti declared: “Justice has prevailed after ten years of struggle. Too many dead boys, too much silence. After being marginalized, even threatened, finally the justice we always hoped for has arrived. But this is not enough! We will not stop until the military doctor who wrongly administered those vaccines to my son is convicted” (Repubblica Espresso January 27, 2014).
In February of this year, through a Freedom of Information request, Dr. Brian Hooker finally obtained long-awaited data from the Centers for Disease Control proving the connection between the mercury-based preservative thimerosal in vaccines. According to Hooker, the data on over four hundred thousand infants born between 1991 and 1997, which were analyzed by CDC epidemiologist Thomas Verstraeten, MD, “proved unequivocally that in 2000, CDC officials were informed internally of the very high risk of autism, nonorganic sleep disorder and speech disorder associated with thimerosal exposure.” The CDC still maintains that there is “no relationship between thimerosal-containing vaccines and autism rates in children” (PRWeb, February 19 2014).
Dengue fever, which aff licts from fifty thousand to almost four hundred million people in tropical regions annually, is said to be an infectious disease caused by the mosquito-borne dengue virus. Symptoms include fever, headache, muscle and joint pains, and a characteristic skin rash that is similar to measles. In a small number of cases the disease develops into the life-threatening dengue hemorrhagic fever, resulting in bleeding, low levels of blood platelets and blood plasma leakage, or into dengue shock syndrome, where dangerously low blood pressure occurs. Current efforts to control the disease focus on the eradication of mosquito breeding grounds, (with no recognition of possible nutritional causes). The genetic engineers have come up with a new idea—the release of hundreds of thousands of mosquitos genetically engineered to produce sterile offspring. In 2015, researchers plan to release millions of male mosquitoes in a village in Panama. “Many concerns about GM organisms are that we are letting a genie out of a bottle, that once released you can’t put them back,” said Dr. Andrew McKenny of the research team. “The beauty in this system is what we are releasing has a deleterious trait.” In spite of the hype, many scientists remain skeptical. “There are risks to releasing insects that have genetic modifications,” said Thomas Walker from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. “When you eradicate the mosquito population, you also eradicate part of the food chain. Mosquitoes are prey for a large variety of predators” (The London Times, February 5, 2014). For an example of the role mosquitos can play in the food chain, Google “mosquito hamburger.”
Mercury Poisoning From Dental Fillings
The FDA has long denied any harm from amalgam (mercurybased) dental fillings but a new study cites FDA data to demonstrate the fact that dental amalgam may indeed cause mercury poisoning in genetically susceptible children. The finding arises from a reanalysis of a key clinical trial cited by FDA as evidence for the safety of amalgams (BioMetals February 2014, Volume 27, Issue 1, pp 19-24). The report asserts that mercury vapor from dental amalgam appears to contribute significantly to mercury body burden, and that this exposure appears sufficient to cause harm to susceptible individuals. Finally, the report notes that many Americans with amalgams are exposed to unsafe levels of mercury vapor according to well-established regulatory standards. The FDA and the American Dental Association (ADA) base their claims of safety largely on the results of two randomized, controlled, clinical trials on amalgam, which are known as the Children’s Amalgam Trials. The initial results, reported in 2006 in the Journal of the American Medical Association, showed no significant difference between the children who received amalgam fillings and those who received resin composite fillings in terms of group-average measures of brain function. Contrary results were observed in 2011 by an independent team that reanalyzed in more detail the longer of the two clinical trials. The investigators divided the amalgam group into high, medium, and low amalgam exposure. This refinement revealed biomarkers of known metabolic harm, called porphyrins, that were associated with higher levels of amalgam. A further reanalysis found that boys who had a common genetic variant, in addition to more exposure to mercury, experienced measurable brain deficits, particularly attention deficit. In addition, from 2011 to 2013, a total of four separate reanalyses have revealed several measures of biological harm to children in a clinical trial lasting seven years. According to lead author, Kristin Homme, “We’re concerned because mercury appears to be the most biochemically plausible explanation for many mysterious conditions, from developmental disorders to neurodegenerative conditions.”
A growing number of farmers are abandoning genetically modified seeds, but it’s not because they are ideologically opposed to the industry. They are switching back to non- GMO crops because they are more productive and profitable (Modern Farmer, January 2014). The re-converts to non-GMO seeds are not hippies but conservative Midwestern farmers making a business decision. GMO seeds cost more, and sell for less on the global market. For example, grain dealer Clarkson Grain pays farmers an extra two dollars per bushel for non-GMO soybeans and an additional one dollar per bushel for non-GMO corn. Furthermore, the GMO seeds are not working as well as they did originally. “Five years ago the [GMO seeds] worked,” said farmer Christ Huegerich, who along with his father planted GMO seeds. “I didn’t have corn rootworm because of the Bt gene, and I used less pesticide. Now, the worms are adjusting, and the weeds are resistant. Mother Nature adapts.” Today, over sixty million acres of cropland in the U.S. are plagued by weeds that are resistant to the popular glyphosate herbicides. Spectrum Seed Solutions president Scott Odle thinks that non-GMO corn could be 20 percent of the market in five years. The free market could very well spell the end of GMO seeds—the best news we have heard in a long time!
This article appeared in Wise Traditions in Food, Farming and the Healing Arts, the quarterly journal of the Weston A. Price Foundation, Spring 2014.