Can we be well fed, but malnourished? The teeth tell the tale.

I am delighted that Jenny McGruther has invited me as a guest blogger for Nourished Kitchen!  My name is Sandrine Hahn and I founded and lead Nourishing Our Children, an educational initiative of the San Francisco Chapter of the Weston A Price Foundation.  On the home page of our website, we pose the question, “Can we be well fed but malnourished?” Let’s explore the answer!

Father and daughter.  What do you notice about their faces from one generation to the next? Similar eyes, noses, smiles … however, daughter’s face is significantly more narrow. Why? Do you think it is because mother may have a more narrow face and her daughter inherited that trait? Perhaps … but, before we draw that conclusion, let’s consider the following:

Pictured above are a variety of different dental issues that we as a society have come to accept as normal or due to heredity. However, Dr. Weston A Price’s research indicates that these conditions are in fact not genetic but, rather, caused by a lack of vital nutrients during the formative period of the body. Dr. Price, a prominent Cleveland dentist practicing in the 1920′s, 30′s and 40′s, embarked on a series of travels to remote parts of the world in 1931 which culminated in his first publication of Nutrition and Physical Degeneration in 1939.

He discovered time and again that when the “displacing foods of modern commerce” were introduced into a healthy population group that there was a corresponding impact on their teeth. At the time, the list of such man-made items coming into the outposts during Dr. Price’s day was relatively short: refined sugar, white flour, vegetable oils (primarily cottonseed oil), canned fruits and vegetables and canned and condensed milk. When people started to consume foods made with these items, he documented an increase in dental carries or cavities in that generation. The next generation developed a more narrow face, with corresponding dental deformities or crooked teeth. Please learn more about Dr. Price’s research in a preview of our presentation. (Edit by Jenny: Nourishing Our Children has generously provided Nourished Kitchen readers with a special, discounted donation on their presentation materials of 50%.  Check it out here – it’s worth it.)


While dentists today do correlate cavities to nutrition, their focus tends to be on sugar and other refined carbohydrates. The typical solution for decay is to fill the cavities, encourage the patients to increase their level of dental hygiene while decreasing their consumption of sweets. According to Price, when given enough specific nutrients, the body will re-mineralize the tooth naturally so that no decay arises. The body can also repair damage that has already occurred. Otherwise we are faced with choosing amongst a short list of dental materials to put in our mouths and the mouths of our developing children, all of which are toxic to a certain degree.

Dental Deformities

Dentists by and large don’t correlate deformities, such as crowding or overbites, to nutrition. As Dr. Suzan Hahn, a San Francisco dentist, explains:

When the jaw bone has enough nutrient density during development, it forms as a wide flat plane and all 32 teeth can come in unobstructed. When nutrients are lacking during the formative period, the bone bows and then the teeth come in crowded, crooked, with under bites, over bites or spaces.

As an aside, the same thing happens with the pelvis. When the diet is poor during the formative period, the pelvic opening will be oval rather than round, creating the possibility of birthing problems. The common solution to dental deformities is to cosmetically straighten teeth with braces. However, even with orthodontics, there is a limit to the structural corrections that can be made.


What’s wrong with having crooked teeth? Can’t we just straighten them with braces?

While we can create a beautiful-looking smile, braces do not address the underlying cause of crowded teeth, which is a lack of proper nutrition. One may have corrected straight teeth, but one could still be permanently left with:

  • Narrow Nasal Passages
  • Constricted Ear Canal
  • Constricted Glands in the Head
  • Reduced Surface Area in the Lungs
  • Digestive Disorders
  • Bone Problems
  • and a Narrow or flattened Pelvis

The teeth tell the tale!

Pictured above are naturally straight teeth. As Sally Fallon Morell, President of The Weston A. Price Foundation and author of Nourishing Traditions, explains in her PowerPoint on Traditional Diets:

When the teeth are straight, it‚ a sign that the rest of the body was properly constructed, with good bone structure, good musculature, keen eyesight and hearing, optimal function of all the organs, optimistic attitude and a well functioning mind. And when the teeth are straight and the facial structure broad, the pelvic opening is round, allowing for easy childbirth. But when the teeth are crooked, it is a sign that there will be compromises in the rest of the body as well. When the face is narrow and the teeth crowded, there is less room for the important glands in the head‚ the pituitary, the pineal and the hypothalamus, the master gland. The hypothalamus is the seat of impulse control‚ and what is the defining characteristic of our young people today? Lack of impulse control!

When the teeth are crowded, the nasal passages are likely more narrow so there‚ more susceptibility to infection. The ear tubes are more narrow so problems in this area are more likely. Crooked teeth often goes with poor posture and underdeveloped muscles. The plumbing and the wiring of the body-house will be compromised as well. There will be less surface area in the lungs, fewer cells in the kidneys. The security system of your house‚your immune system‚will not be able to keep out all intruders. In addition to physical problems caused by poor diet, mental and emotional problems also appear. We actually have receptors for feel-good chemicals in our brains and these receptors can‚ work without the nutrients found in foods like seafood, animal fats and organ meats.

Finally, when the face is narrow, the pelvic opening is oval and childbirth becomes much more difficult, even life threatening. We should not blame the doctors for all the C-Section births they are doing today‚ these operations are necessary because otherwise the babies cannot get through the narrow opening of the pelvis.”

Once a child’s body has been formed, we can’t correct the narrow bone structure, although with good nutrition, it is still possible to be healthy. However, we can correct the bone structure in the next generation with good nutrition before conception and during pregnancy and growth. See our recommended diet for pregnant and nursing mothers and overall dietary recommendations.

Facial Structure

This photograph illustrates perfectly the difference between normal and compromised facial structure. These two men belong to the same tribe and have the same genetics, but the young man on the right has excellent facial structure, a very broad face, while the young man on the left shows the elongation of the face and the narrowing of the palate that comes with the introduction of modern foods. His body has done the best it could with the materials available, but did not have the nutrients needed to build the strong bones that are required for wide dental arches. While the boy on the right has a bone structure that supports the entire face, it looks as though the face of the boy on the left is actually hanging from the skull.

The photo above is reproduced by permission with the Price-Pottenger Nutrition Foundation who holds the copyright. Please do not use the photo without their express written consent.

Pottenger’s Cats

Like Price, Dr. Frances Pottenger was a researcher. His studies revealed that predictable changes in health can occur when you change the diet. In his study, cats that were fed a diet of raw meat, raw milk and cod liver oil lived generation after generation in good health. When the raw food was replaced by pasteurized milk and partially cooked meat, allergies and skeletal deformities occurred in the first generation. The offspring of these poorly fed cats developed glandular problems – thyroid, adrenal and pancreatic. The next generation experienced a whole host of degenerative diseases, and the fourth generation exhibited mental disorders and was infertile, meaning they did not reproduce. The implication for humans? Not that humans should eat only raw foods – humans are not cats. But, rather when the human diet produces “facial deformities,” as we are seeing these days, extinction will occur if that diet is followed for several generations.


So back to our question – Can we be well fed but malnourished?

In a word – Yes. Yes, we can. It is possible to be malnourished even when we have plenty to eat. The very narrow arch behind the palatal expander captured above is indicative of what Dr. Price referred to as physical degeneration.

As has been previously mentioned … it is not just the teeth and the shape of the face that are impacted by poor nutrition! Knowing that there are key nutrients needed for brain development, we can infer that without them, full development may be delayed, interrupted or never realized. Key nutrients include Vitamins A and D, Choline, DHA, Zinc, Tryptophan and Cholesterol. Most of them are found in the following foods: cod liver oil, and the liver, butter and egg yolks from grass-fed animals, while some are found in seafood and the meat of grass-fed animals.

How many of us routinely consume these foods or feed them to our children? My hope is that more and more do – which is why I established this educational initiative! Read more: and view the related section in our presentation here:
If you’d like to learn more about how to nourish, rather than merely fed your children, please take advantage of this opportunity to receive our educational materials, many of which are on sale for up to 60% off in celebration of Nourishing Our Children’s 8th Anniversary.

What if you eat right and your children’s teeth are still crooked?

As an end note – in response to this information, some have expressed to me that they have fed their children a nutrient dense diet, yet their teeth are still crooked.  Possible reasons: parents didn’t start eating a nutrient dense diet well before the child was conceived in order to build their own nutritional reserves, their diet wasn’t as nutrient dense as they thought, they didn’t allow for enough spacing between children to recuperate their nutritional reserves (3 years is recommended), there is a malabsorption issue caused by a compromised gut (see GAPS diet for help), and/or it may take more than one generation to reverse the trend of physical degeneration that results in crooked teeth.