30 April 2013

Are We Pottenger's Cats?

Back in the 1930s and 1940s two men, one a physician and the other a dentist made some startling observations regarding nutrition and health. 

Dr. Price was a dentist in Ohio whose years of dental practice spanned the late 19th century up to his death in the late 1940s. Starting around the teen years of the twentieth century he began to notice how the children of his patients were experiencing dental problems their parents did not experience. Their teeth were coming in crooked with narrowing dental arches. He wanted to find out why.

In the 1930s Dr. Price toured the world in search of traditional cultures that had not been "corrupted" by modern, processed food like bread made from white flour or milk that had been pasturized. He visited an isolated village high in the mountains of Switzerland that was only accesible by horse and buggy. The people lived on various types of dairy products - raw fresh milk and cheeses, some vegetables and meat from their cattle. These people who had not begun eating "modern" diets were far healthier than others in nearby villages that had begun eating modern diets. The people had perfect teeth and the children were in excellent health.

He also visited a village on an isolated Scottish Island where the people were still eating the same foods as their ancestors for hundreds of years. Again these people had perfect teeth and robust health unlike the Scotsmen on the mainland of Scotland. 

He also visited tribes in Africa whose diets centered around cattle; their milk and meat. Again these African tribesmen had perfect teeth.

Very few of these isolated populations suffered from dental disease and their teeth were in perfect alignment. Yet more "modern" European populations were plagued with dental disease and orthodontic problems. Populations eating traditional diets from locally available foods prepared in time honored fashion were healthier than their modern counterparts.

Dr. Francis Pottenger Jr. was a physician in California who accidentally made the ground breaking observation that the health and nutritional status of one generation can affect future generations. Pottenger's observations were made over several generations of cats fed different kinds of diets. Some cats were fed raw meat, fresh raw milk and cod liver oil. Another group was fed cooked meat scraps and processed milk. The cats that were fed the deficient diet of cooked meat scraps and processed milk developed physical illnesses, and when bred their kittens were sickly. The sickly kittens that survived and in turn were bred had even sicker kittens that did not survive very long, or if they did live to "adulthood" did not breed successfully.

The cats fed the deficient diets had bone deformaties, dental deformaties, including crooked teeth! They were smaller at birth than the kittens born to well fed mom-cats. But for some of the deficient cats, when switched to the raw mean and raw milk diets, their health improved, and when bred their kittens were a bit healthier. Those kittens grew up and even though they had some problems, they were fed a proper diet while carrying their kittens and their kittens were healthy.

What Price and Pottenger didn't know, was that they were laying the groundwork for the new field of study called "epigenetics" - what you eat affects your genes and how you pass along damaged genes to the future generations. Or what you eat can heal your genes and you pass along healthy genes to your children and your children's children.

Perhaps our orthodontic issues relate directly to what Price and Pottenger observed so many years ago. Our bad diets have been compounding upon each generation since the turn of the last century when Dr. Price began noticing the orthodontic and other problems of the children born in the early 20th century. And the consequences of the compounding poor diet over the past four or five generations are leaving us like the terminal generation of Pottenger's Cats......sickly and unable to reproduce - or sickly and dying young.

Here are several books about epigenetics and how traditional diets and traditional foods can heal your genes.

"Deep Nutrition" by Dr. Cate Shanahan, MD
A bit heavy on the biochemistry and genetics, but a good read if you're up to the challenge!

http://www.amazon.com/Deep-Nutrition-Yo ... ional+food

A less technical version
"Food Rules"
http://www.amazon.com/Food-Rules-Doctor ... pd_sim_b_1

Pottenger's Cats
http://www.amazon.com/Pottengers-Cats-F ... ngers+cats

And Weston A Price's classic......
Nutrition and Physical Degeneration
http://www.amazon.com/Nutrition-Physica ... pd_sim_b_2

Other fascinating books include "Nourishing Traditions" by Sally Fallon, "Primal Body-Primal Mind" - a book that goes into why a "Paleo Diet" might be better for us - a diet without grain products.

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05 March 2013

First Check-Up Since Getting Wired

Today was my first check-up with my orthodontist! All is going well and he had nothing but "very good" to say when he poked around my mouth.  I've had no serious pain - nothing that would make me run for the meds.  

There is already observable slight movement in my teeth, including spaces opening up in back. 

My wire was replaced with a heavier gauge one and so far no discomfort other than a mild "sticker" at the far back on the right side which is easy to take care of with carefully placed wax.  I just need to remove it when I eat or drink a cup of tea!

In other words, I'm not an oral cripple....yet.  My lower braces are yet to be installed.

I also visited my regular dentist for a cleaning after I had the orthodontist's tech remove my wire.  Apparently my rituals with the water flosser and my SonicCare toothbrush is working. My hygienist thinks every six months is fine for cleanings.  

Also, for your viewing enjoyment.........


My central incisors are slipping out of alignment! They didn't look too horrible when I was a kid.

Here's my upper jaw as seen from above. That left central incisor is why I  made haste to the orthodontist.  There were slight irregularities when I was younger, but they weren't so bad that my agent at the time didn't think they'd hurt my chances at getting gigs.

My lowers as seen from above. I lost the molar due to an accident many years ago. I fell off my bicycle and slammed my jaw hard.  The damage took six years to present itself and by the time my tooth was shooting pain throughout my head it was too far gone and in January of 2010 it had to be removed. Oh, by the way....those are tea stains in my teeth!

Here's my bite from the side. You can really see the incisor "sliding backwards."

This is the view that really freaked me out. Here is why I decided to  get things straightened out. My  left central incisor looks like it is gone! (Photos are reversed)


Coming next week

13 February 2013


My teeth have been wired for thirty days now. I've got twenty-three months to go.  From time to time I'm thinking....."I'm doing this, why?"

I've got little interest in food. Maybe I'll eat one proper meal a day and the rest of the time I'm drinking my meals. 

I found a superfood smoothie powder using pea protein based mixed in an unsweetened vanilla flavored hemp milk with a teaspoon of cod liver oil. Sometimes I'll juice up a bunch of veggies and spike the juice with the cod liver oil.  I also take a "fist full" of other supplements every morning to further fill in my nutritional gaps.

Like it or not, my husband is also on this new diet. I'd hate to think I'm not feeding him well enough.  He's okay with it as long as he can crunch away on nuts and other things I can't eat!

When I do cook a "proper meal", I end up eating it , my teeth complain loudly and soon I have a headache.

Next post:  "Are We Pottenger's Cats?"

05 February 2013

Why I Got Braces Well Into Middle Age

Here is a "before" shot of my smile that pushed me over the edge and helped me make the decision to get my smile wired. My left front central incisor has shifted backwards and to the right making my smile look like I'm missing that tooth in some photos!

My smile did NOT look like this when I was in my teens or twenties! 

Although it is just that one central incisor that has gone astray, all my teeth have to be realigned. 

My lower teeth are also very crooked and will be dealt with later this year.

04 February 2013

Braces On My Teeth, Well Past 40?

As a teen and young adult my teeth looked okay, a bit uneven, but nothing horrendous. My mother took my sister and me to the University of Washington School of Dentistry for orthodontic evaluations, and we were told our teen were fine. Now that I am considerably older my teeth are not fine.  I've taken good care of my teeth, and never got cavities.  Over the years dentists would joke, "I'm not making any money on your mouth.....again!"  So all I'd ever have done would get the tea stains sandblasted off and I'd be on my way.

When I was in my early twenties I had my wisdom teeth dug out. The uppers were coming in all crooked and turning the back of my mouth into hamburger. The oral surgeon also dug out the lowers because there was a chance they'd come in crooked as well.  

About three years ago I had to have a lower twelve-year molar extracted. At some point in time I cracked it and the crack escaped detection until it was too far gone to save.  

Now, many years later and I'm well past young adulthood and what have my teeth done to reward me with all the good care I've given them?  They have shifted backwards!  My left central incisor has been shifting backwards to the right so much so that  in some photos of my smile it looks like I have no left front central incisor!  

On January 15, 2013 I got my upper teeth wired with ceramic brackets in hopes my overbite and shifting left front central incisor will get back in line.  I've been told it will take about two years.

Sometime later this year my lower teeth will also get wired.

So my adventure begins.  Stay tuned for my before photos.