Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Vitamin K2 and Cranial Development

One of the things Dr. Weston Price noticed about healthy traditional cultures worldwide is their characteristically broad faces, broad dental arches and wide nostrils. Due to the breadth of their dental arches, they invariably had straight teeth and enough room for wisdom teeth. As soon as these same groups adopted white flour and sugar, the next generation to be born grew up with narrow faces, narrow dental arches, crowded teeth, pinched nostrils and a characteristic underdevelopment of the middle third of the face.

Here's an excerpt from Nutrition and Physical Degeneration, about traditional and modernized Swiss groups. Keep in mind these are Europeans we're talking about (although he found the same thing in all the races he studied):

The reader will scarcely believe it possible that such marked differences in facial form, in the shape of the dental arches, and in the health condition of the teeth as are to be noted when passing from the highly modernized lower valleys and plains country in Switzerland to the isolated high valleys can exist. Fig. 3 shows four girls with typically broad dental arches and regular arrangement of the teeth. They have been born and raised in the Loetschental Valley or other isolated valleys of Switzerland which provide the excellent nutrition that we have been reviewing.
Another change that is seen in passing from the isolated groups with their more nearly normal facial developments, to the groups of the lower valleys, is the marked irregularity of the teeth with narrowing of the arches and other facial features... While in the isolated groups not a single case of a typical mouth breather was found, many were seen among the children of the lower-plains group. The children studied were from ten to sixteen years of age.
Price attributed this physical change to a lack of minerals and the fat-soluble vitamins necessary to make good use of them: vitamin A, vitamin D and what he called "activator X"-- now known to be vitamin K2 MK-4. The healthy cultures he studied all had an adequate source of vitamin K2, but many ate very little K1 (which comes mostly from vegetables). Inhabitants of the Loetschental valley ate green vegetables only in summer, due to the valley's harsh climate. The rest of the year, the diet was limited chiefly to whole grain sourdough rye bread and pastured dairy products.

The dietary transitions Price observed were typically from mineral- and vitamin-rich whole foods to refined modern foods, predominantly white flour and sugar. The villagers of the Loetschental valley obtained their fat-soluble vitamins from pastured dairy, which is particularly rich in vitamin K2 MK-4.

In a modern society like the U.S., most people exhibit signs of poor cranial development. How many people do you know with perfectly straight teeth who never required braces? How many people do you know whose wisdom teeth erupted normally?

The archaeological record shows that our hunter-gatherer ancestors generally didn't have crooked teeth. Humans evolved to have dental arches in proportion to their tooth size, like all animals. Take a look at these chompers. That skull is from an archaeological site in the Sahara desert that predates agriculture in the region. Those beautiful teeth are typical of paleolithic humans and modern hunter-gatherers. Crooked teeth and impacted wisdom teeth are only as old as agriculture. However, Price found that with care, certain traditional cultures were able to build well-formed skulls on an agricultural diet.

So was Price on to something, or was he just cherry picking individuals that supported his hypothesis? It turns out there's a developmental syndrome in the literature that might shed some light on this. It's called Binder's syndrome. Here's a description from a review paper about Binder's syndrome (emphasis mine):

The essential features of maxillo-nasal dysplasia were initially described by Noyes in 1939, although it was Binder who first defined it as a distinct clinical syndrome. He reported on three cases and recorded six specific characteristics:5
  • Arhinoid face.
  • Abnormal position of nasal bones.
  • Inter-maxillary hypoplasia with associated malocclusion.
  • Reduced or absent anterior nasal spine.
  • Atrophy of nasal mucosa.
  • Absence of frontal sinus (not obligatory).
Individuals with Binder's syndrome have a characteristic appearance that is easily recognizable.6 The mid-face profile is hypoplastic, the nose is flattened, the upper lip is convex with a broad philtrum, the nostrils are typically crescent or semi-lunar in shape due to the short collumela, and a deep fold or fossa occurs between the upper lip and the nose, resulting in an acute nasolabial angle.
Allow me to translate: in Binder's patients, the middle third of the face is underdeveloped, they have narrow dental arches and crowded teeth, small nostrils and abnormally small sinuses (sometimes resulting in mouth breathing). Sound familiar? So what causes Binder's syndrome? I'll give you a hint: it can be caused by prenatal exposure to warfarin (coumadin).

Warfarin is rat poison. It kills rats by causing them to lose their ability to form blood clots, resulting in massive hemmorhage. It does this by depleting vitamin K, which is necessary for the proper functioning of blood clotting factors. It's used (in small doses) in humans to thin the blood as a treatment for abnormal blood clots. As it turns out, Binder's syndrome can be caused by
a number of things that interfere with vitamin K metabolism. The sensitive period for humans is the first trimester. I think we're getting warmer...

Another name for Binder's syndrome is "warfarin embryopathy". There happens to be
a rat model of it. Dr. Bill Webster's group at the University of Sydney injected rats daily with warfarin for up to 12 weeks, beginning on the day they were born (rats have a different developmental timeline than humans). They also administered large doses of vitamin K1 along with it. This is to ensure the rats continue to clot normally, rather than hemorrhaging. Another notable property of warfarin that I've mentioned before is its ability to inhibit the conversion of vitamin K1 to vitamin K2 MK-4. Here's what they had to say about the rats:

The warfarin-treated rats developed a marked maxillonasal hypoplasia associated with a 11-13% reduction in the length of the nasal bones compared with controls... It is proposed that (1) the facial features of the human warfarin embryopathy are caused by reduced growth of the embryonic nasal septum, and (2) the septal growth retardation occurs because the warfarin-induced extrahepatic vitamin K deficiency prevents the normal formation of the vitamin K-dependent matrix gla protein in the embryo.
"Maxillonasal hypoplasia" means underdevelopment of the jaws and nasal region. Proper development of this region requires fully active matrix gla protein (MGP), which I've written about before in the context of vascular calcification. MGP requires vitamin K to activate it, and it seems to prefer K2 MK-4 to K1, at least in the vasculature. Administering K2 MK-4 along with warfarin prevents warfarin's ability to cause arterial calcification (thought to be an MGP-dependent mechanism), whereas administering K1 does not.
Here are a few quotes from a review paper by Dr. Webster's group. I have to post the whole abstract because it's a gem:

The normal vitamin K status of the human embryo appears to be close to deficiency [I would argue in most cases the embryo is actually deficient, as are most adults in industrial societies]. Maternal dietary deficiency or use of a number of therapeutic drugs during pregnancy, may result in frank vitamin K deficiency in the embryo. First trimester deficiency results in maxillonasal hypoplasia in the neonate with subsequent facial and orthodontic implications. A rat model of the vitamin K deficiency embryopathy shows that the facial dysmorphology is preceded by uncontrolled calcification in the normally uncalcified nasal septal cartilage, and decreased longitudinal growth of the cartilage, resulting in maxillonasal hypoplasia. The developing septal cartilage is normally rich in the vitamin K-dependent protein matrix gla protein (MGP). It is proposed that functional MGP is necessary to maintain growing cartilage in a non-calcified state. Developing teeth contain both MGP and a second vitamin K-dependent protein, bone gla protein (BGP). It has been postulated that these proteins have a functional role in tooth mineralization. As yet this function has not been established and abnormalities in tooth formation have not been observed under conditions where BGP and MGP should be formed in a non-functional form.
Could vitamin K insufficiency be related to underdeveloped facial structure in industrialized cultures?  Price felt that to ensure the proper development of their children, mothers should eat a diet rich in fat-soluble vitamins both before and during pregnancy. This makes sense in light of what we now know. There is a pool of vitamin K2 MK-4 in the organs that turns over very slowly, in addition to a pool in the blood that turns over rapidly. Entering pregnancy with a full store means a greater chance of having enough of the vitamin for the growing fetus. Healthy traditional cultures often fed special foods rich in fat-soluble vitamins to women of childbearing age and expectant mothers, thus ensuring beautiful and robust progeny.

63 comments:

Monica said...

Hitting it out of the ballpark once again, Stephan. Thanks for another "public service" announcement.

I read NAPD for the first time less than a year ago. It was a complete revelation. I was dismayed and angry while reading it that such information is not more widely known. Yet more modern research vindicating Price's work. As you said before, good science is timeless. The suffering that could be avoided if this information was more widely available.

I can personally attest to a fat soluble vitamin deficient maternal diet. I endured years of orthodontics and very painful surgeries to remove eight teeth, including all of the wisdom teeth. When my wisdom teeth were removed in high school (after the orthodontics and the previous removal surgeries) the swelling was so bad that I was out of school for two weeks.

If I ever have kids, at least they won't suffer the same fate. :)

toddhargrove said...

Wow amazing post.

After reading Price’s book NPD, as well as Taubes’ book and this blog and others, it seems that many people are in agreement that the factors most likely responsible for the diseases of civilization are refined sugars and grains and veggie oils, coupled with a lack of key nutrients and fat soluable vitamins. I have no doubt that each of these have played their role, both no one tells a very clear story as to how degeneration initiated. In other words, which of these factors is the proximate cause and which are contributing factors that merely hastened the decline in already weakened humans? For example, could eating excessive veggie oils alone without sugar cause degeneration? What about sugar and no veggie oils? What if people ate both of these but somehow retained adequate fat soluable vitamins such as K2. What if there was no offending modern foods but for some reason a lack of the traditional foods that ensured adequate K2 or Vit A?

I think your post might shed some light on the last question because I believe it suggests that a deficiency of K2, even without exposure to sugar, PUFAs, etc, could be responsible for the poor teeth and facial structures that Price observed. I wonder what other bad health consequences arise from the K2 deficiency during pregnancy. Price speculated that inadequate development of the middle third of the facial structure negatively impacted the function of the pituitary. Is it possible that impaired pituitary function is a key step in the process of degeneration, including poor thyroid function, which we have discussed at Matt’s blog?

theoddbod said...

super interesting. I had my wisdom teeth, although with no real trouble it was more of a precautionary thing I guess (all the teeth were straight) but I guess it's something that is to be expected nowadays.
i'm sorry about monica's hardships with her teeth. the day after I had mine out I was eating steak,hehe

Half Navajo said...

Really good post...and i will say it again...this blog is so much fun to read!!!

I had to have braces for 8 months...teeth were pretty straight, i had to fix my bite through functional jaw orthodontics did the trick! Ever since i got Nutrition and physical degeneration 5 years ago, i can't stop looking at peoples faces and my own and wonder what we would all look like on a perfect traditional diet.

What do you think about pasteurized grass fed dairy...like the organic valley pasture butter, or say the strauss family farm cream. I have read the X factor(mk-4) can take the heat but its loses the wulzen anti stiffness factor? I am lucky to live in California, i can get raw cream, milk, butter, and colostrum off the shelve, but sometimes i can't afford it and buy the strauss cream or the organic valley pasture butter.

Can't wait to see more of the paper on this!!

t r o y

Scott W said...

I just finished reading NAPD and like Half Navajo I am constantly looking at faces (including my own) in a new light. It is a tragedy that we accept the consequences of poor nutrition as normal. It is hard to believe an entire industry of highly-paid professionals exists to remedy problems caused by nutritional deficiencies.

After reading the book, and thinking about the process of tooth re-mineralization through the action of chemically-correct saliva, I quit using toothpaste. (I had been using a prescription, high-fluoride toothpaste for sensitive teeth). Now I just brush/floss each day. I'll ask my dentist at my next checkup in six months if there is any difference. Why should I need toothpaste if paleo people did not need it?

Agree with all kudos to this post. The information on this site has led me to refine my approach to supplements to the benifit of myslef and my family. Thanks for that.

Scott W

Aaron Blaisdell said...

Scott wrote "I just finished reading NAPD and like Half Navajo I am constantly looking at faces (including my own) in a new light." I'd have to agree 100%. I finished Price's priceless book (he he) two weeks ago (am reading eat fat, lose fat by Enig and Fallon now) and realize just how non-normal my face with narrow nostrils, 5 tooth extractions during my teens, etc. I wish I knew all of this four years ago, just before my wife got pregnant for the first time. My older daughter is 3.5 yo and the doctor already predicts she will need braces due to the crowding of teeth in her mouth. It's too soon to tell the prognosis for my younger daughter who is only 5 months old. Damn, I wish I could go back four years in a time machine and at least change their lives. I think we should all file a class-action lawsuit against the AHA, AMA, US federal government, and anyone else who willingly had a hand in the biggest health cover up of the last millennium!

Scott W said...

Another thing I have been wondering about pre-natal fat-soluble vitamin deficiency is whether it can cause metabolic problems for the offspring in the area of using/storing A, D and K.

I wonder if this might account for some lags in CHD/cancer increases that sometimes seem to confound the establishment of an immediate cause-and-effect relationship when a population shifts to a food such as margarine.

Meaning that the parents don't show an immediate impact because they had the benefit of proper fat-soluble vitamins during their own development, but their offspring have compromised metabolisms right out of the gate (so to speak) and are at a lifelong disadvantage, which is compounded when they are fed on the same deficient foods. It is perhaps in this second generation when the impact of altered diet really shows up across a population.

Scott W

Scott W said...

A final question: Are fat-soluble vitamins stored mainly in organs or mainly in our fat?

If a person has a pre-natally compromised metabolsim, then the tendency for some people to put on weight easily, or the difficulty with losing body fat down to optimal levels may be due to the body's deranged approach to the fat-soluble vitamins: it can't store them efficiently in minimal amount of fat and must hold on to more than usual to compensate. This obviously doesn't account for gross obesity, just those last pounds that won't go away. Pure conjecture...more of a question really.

OK...I'm done now.

Scott W

Juhana Harju said...

Stephan, I wonder where you get the idea that MK-4 is needed? The Dutch studies show that actually the longer chain menaquinones (those in aged cheeses and natto) are more effective.

BTW, there is an interesting new review on omega-6 fatty acids. It refutes the idea that omega-6 is harmful.

ob said...

Hi Stephan.
Thanks for the blog. There is a lot of good work in it.

Does anyone know if Price's method of extracting butter oil available anywhere on line? If one can get reasonable quality butter, if it is a simple physical separation method maybe it can be done at
home?
Owen
PS If not on line the journal reference would be good and I'll see if I can get hold of it.

ob said...

A bit more on the separation method:

http://www.freepatentsonline.com/y2004/0258828.html

darwinstable said...

Very interesting. The high levels of this in seafood could be why Weston Price commented that those tribes that ate seafood often showed the best physical development?

Robert Andrew Brown said...

Great post Stephan.

I have a vague recollection that Omega fats may also impact on facial development.

Juhana

Re your post and pro Omega 6 paper.

Thanks for bringing my attention to that paper. I am always delighted to be challenged.

I will come back to it later when I have more time but I go back to an earlier post that trials looking at saturate v polyunsaturates high in Omega 6 are often actually looking at other factors.

Commercial lard contains trans fats and is denuded of all minerals and vitamins with processing.

Vegetable oils margarines are fortified with vitamins and antioxidants.

Simple vegetable oils contain limited trans fats.

The rate of clearance of LDLs and creation of HDLs could be indicative of higher clearance and creation, which may not necessarily be a health plus.

Vegetable oils do not have any cholesterol to pre oxidise, and the replacement of this with unoxidised cholesterol in trials does not replicate real life risks.

Small amounts of Omega 3 ALA eg almost none to some may make a big difference.

Results are inconsistent. The Finnish Mental Hospital studies showed benefits in men not women, and presumably they were eating the same meals as it looks like they took place at the same time and in the same hospitals. Is the conclusion of this that cholesterol is of no use as a marker in women (-: ???.

http://ije.oxfordjournals.org/cgi/content/abstract/12/1/17

http://ije.oxfordjournals.org/cgi/content/abstract/8/2/99

These are abstracts from the conclusion of a meta-analysis of 60 trials looking at HDL NOT HEART DISEASE which is a lynch pin of the paper, the message of which is not as simple as saturated fats are bad for you.

The conclusion itself accepts it is not proven that HDL in isolation from LDL is a proven accurate marker of heart disease.

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12716665

"Our results emphasize the risk of relying on cholesterol alone as a marker of CAD risk. Replacement of carbohydrates with tropical oils markedly raises total cholesterol, which is unfavorable, but the picture changes if effects on HDL and apo B are taken into account. The picture may change again once we know how to interpret the effects of diet on postprandial lipemia, thrombogenic factors, and other, newer markers. However, as long as information directly linking the consumption of certain fats and oils with CAD is lacking, we can never be sure what such fats and oils do to CAD risk."

"The effects of dietary fats on total:HDL cholesterol may differ markedly from their effects on LDL. The effects of fats on these risk markers should not in themselves be considered to reflect changes in risk but should be confirmed by prospective observational studies or clinical trials. "


I think you have to look at the Omega 6 argument as a whole across the whole spectrum, and it is essential to look at exactly what is being compared.

As Stephan has done such a good job in bringing to our attention natural animal fats are not nutrient devoid trans fat containing industrial lard, and to make a health comparison on the basis they are is flawed.


Robert Brown

Author Omega Six The Devils Fat

Jeff said...

I wish I knew this when my children were a "sparkle in my eye". This is really important stuff, I appreciate it.

One question. Is it too late? Based on your posts I have completely switched my family to pastured cow milk, cream, and butter(lots of it). I am hoping this will improve the development from here on and that since we missed the fetal window it isn't too late. I have had braces, glasses and lots of cavities and am looking to get my kids to avoid this through proper nutrition.

Robert Andrew Brown said...

Juhana

This is another paper cited in the trial you cite.

The paper cites flaws with some of the key trial cited in favour of Omega 6.

My issue is how can such definitive statements be so authoritatively made about the impact of Omega 6 in the face of so many questions about the trial data that is being relied on.

The include interesting little details like ONE THIRD of the population changed over the population study time in the Finnish mental hospital study.

The three large trials are reported as "ineffective in reducing either coronary events or total mortality over the period of the trial"

The trial is called;

"The low fat/low cholesterol diet is ineffective"

and concluded;

"The commonly-held belief that the best diet for the prevention of coronary heart disease is a low saturated fat, low cholesterol is not supported by the available evidence from clinical trials. In the primary prevention, such diets do not reduce the risk of myocardial infarction or coronary or all cause mortality. Cost-benefit analyses of the extensive primary prevention programmes, which are at present vigorously supported by Governments, Health Departments and health educationalists, are urgently required."



Robert Brown

Author Omega Six The Devils Fat.

www.Omegasixthedevilsfat.com

Robert Andrew Brown said...

Juhana

Sorry I forgot to post the link to the paper (not trial)

Many thanks

Robert


http://www.omen.com/corr.html

The low fat/low cholesterol diet is ineffective

Reprinted with permission from: European Heart Journal (1997) 18, 18-22

L.A. Corr, Guy's and St. Thomas' Hospitals, London, U.K.
M.F. Oliver, National Heart and Lung Institute, London, U.K.

Correspondence: Dr. Laura A. Corr, MB, BS, MRCP, PhD, FESC,
Consultant Cardiologist, Guys and St. Thomas' Hospitals,
St. Thomas Street, London SE1 9RT

Stephan said...

Monica,

I had to have my wisdom teeth extracted, braces for two years and a bite correction. Still, I think I feel like I got off easy compared to many people. It was probably the good cheese my Mom ate!

Todd,

I don't have any evidence to back this up, but I would be surprised if cranial development were the only thing K2 deficiency affects during development. I think there may be foods that actively interfere with fat-soluble vitamin status, more on that later.

Theoddbod,

They gave you braces even though your teeth were straight?! Talk about bad luck!

Troy,

I'm the same way, I always look at peoples' facial development including my own. I don't know whether pasteurized dairy is OK or not. It does supposedly retain the K2, but obviously it loses other nutrients and the natural bacteria. I don't have a firm opinion on it.

Scott,

K2 is mainly stored in the organs, especially the pancreas, the salivary glands and the brain. A is stored mostly in the liver. D is stored mostly in the blood I think. It's entirely possible that a vitamin deficiency during development could have long-term metabolic consequences. I'm keeping my eyes peeled for data on that but I haven't found any yet.

Stephan said...

Juhana,

Where do I get the idea that MK-4 is needed? Maybe from the fact that it's preferentially accumulated in the brain and other organs. When you look for menaquinones in the brain, you don't find MK-7, you find MK-4. MK-4 is the menaquinone synthesized from phylloquinone by mammals, for mammals. When humans make (small amounts of) K2 from phylloquinone, it's MK-4 not MK-7. MK-4 is the form secreted in breast milk.

Where do you get the idea that MK-7 can substitute for MK-4? They've shown that MK-7 can carboxylate osteocalcin. But can it carboxylate matrix gla protein? Can it carboxylate Gas6, and all 14 of the known gla proteins? No one knows, so you have no basis saying MK-7 can stand in for MK-4.

You should do an experiment: have a child, and make sure the mother eats very little MK-4 but plenty pf MK-7. Then see if the child needs braces. That way we'll know if MK-7 can cross the placental barrier and carboxylate MGP in vivo, like MK-4 can. It will be a fun experiment.

About the omega-6 study, you must be joking! First of all, that's an AHA publication. Second, I started reading it until I got to the point where they cited the Finnish mental hospital trial. That is a litmus test for any cardiovascular paper. If they cite the Finnish mental hospital trial for any reason other than to point out how poor the study design was, they either aren't familiar with it or they aren't scientists.

Apparently they didn't want to discuss the Coronary club trial, the Sydney diet-heart trial and the Rose trial (1965), all of which saw greatly increased risk of cardiovascular death when omega-6 replaced saturated fat in the diet. Those were some of the earliest studies, from back before the basal diet was already extremely high in omega-6. Thus, you would expect them to be more telling. These were better conducted than the Finnish mental hospital trial, although that's not saying much.

Ob,

I don't know, sorry.

Dan,

I actually don't think seafood is particularly rich in menaquinones. It's got a modest but adequate amount, from what I've found. If I had to guess, I'd say the reason for the excellent development of the Pacific islanders was probably due to adequate fat-soluble vitamins coupled with a diet that didn't interfere with fat-soluble vitamin status, a diet low in PUFA and rich in omega-3.

Jeff,

Weston Price believed there were several growth windows that were responsive to a good diet. If I recall correctly, the last of them is during adolescence, so it's not too late!

Monica said...

Stephan, can you point me to any references as to how a vitamin K2 assay is done? Additionally, is it possible to get K2 levels tested as we can get D levels tested?

I suppose I could look at some of these abstracts that you and Richard have linked to... but just curious on that second question.

Anna said...

What good parent doesn't wish they had known something earlier? :-) Count me in on that one, too. I'm always discovering things that could have boosted my fertility, improved my BG control, and benefited my son's health. Better late than never, eh?

I am hopeful that those "windows" Stephan mentions in his most recent comment/reply do exist. I wonder if that's the case with what's happened with my son's bite.

I never restricted my 10 yo son's butter intake in his earliest years, but about 4, maybe 5 years ago I started increasing the amount of butter I used in my cooking, as pats on warm/hot foods, etc, because I realized (initially from NT, N&PD, and WAPF) there was more to butter than some fat and good taste. Also, over time, I switched from whatever butter was cheapest, to raw butter sometimes, but especially with an emphasis on organic and pastured cows. Of course, there have been other dietary changes, too (more heavy cream consumption, more "backyard" eggs, etc.).

And from ages 3-6 he wasn't much of a milk drinker (I was buying conventional 2% milk then). He'd usually leave glasses half drunk, etc. so more often than not, he drank water with his meals instead to avoid the waste. That changed when I switched to whole raw milk. He'd finish his glass of milk and ask for more. If I bought conventional milk again, he'd go back to the half glass routine.

My son's secondary teeth came in with an overbite (not surprising, my husband and MIL have overbites - my husband was a pacifier sucker until age 4 or 5!). Also, my son sucked his thumb a lot (he was a great sleeper, though, and rarely fussy unless hungry) from age 6 wks until about age 6 (age 4 thru 6 only when tired and alone "zoning" or sleeping). He quit the TS at night on his own in kindergarten. Between my husband's family overbite pattern and the thumbsucking, I figured braces were our son's destiny, too. Also, two of his front lower teeth came in a bit crowded and slightly crooked (like mine and many of my paternal relatives).

When my son was about 8-9 yo, the overbite was fairly pronounced, and our dentist recommended a consult with an orthodontist. There were one or two kids that teased him, but he didn't seem bothered by it (though by then I did also notice an effort to smile with closed lips in school portraits, etc.).

The main worry was that his teeth were at increased risk of damage due to their forward position and exposure. So early orthodontics were considered primarily to bring in those front upper teeth to protect them, with "full" orthodontia still necessary later ( age 14?) when more of his secondary teeth were in, etc.

Well, I procrastinated, partially because my son is the world's worst when it comes to tooth brushing (both in how well he brushes and how frequently) and he would need to agree to perform extra oral hygiene if he had braces. He just didn't seem mature enough to deal with braces without a lot of involvement from me (and what 10 yo wants his mother brushing his teeth?) nor did he seem particularly bothered by the overbite in function or appearance. So I waited.

This past year I have noticed that the slight crowding on his lower front teeth has decreased quite a bit and they are much straighter. And the top front teeth are definitely straighter, and the overbite has reduced quite a bit.

Hard to know why his dental alignment seems to be spontaneously improving, but gosh, I've love to give all the grassfed butter and the vitamin D3 supplements the credit ;-). Don't know if he'll be able to avoid braces altogether in his early teen years, but I think we can skip the early intervention braces for sure.

BTW, my son's primary teeth are really slow to come out. The roots take a really long time to "dissolve". They are loose in the socket for a unusually long time and when they disconnect from the gums there's often a strong stubborn connective bit that causes some pain and much annoyance. The "lost" teeth have all had long jagged "spears" at the root end when they do come out, with some bleeding. Most of the lost teeth I've seen from others (and recollecting my own) are sort of cleanly dissolved all around just below the gum, with no root remaining at all). His primary tooth loss and secondary eruption seems to be a bit later than average(but most of his friends also have lots of cavities, some have no enamel at all, etc.).

Currently, he's only lost the front 8 primary teeth (the secondary teeth have been in for quite some time now). No sign of loose teeth currently. It'll be interesting to see what happens when the rest of the primary incisors and molars go and the remaining secondary teeth grow in. My wisdom teeth never erupted, but were impacted and removed when I had JMT problems in my 20s and early 30s.

And despite his terrible laziness with toothbrushing (& heavy plaque buildup), he has not had any cavities ever. I stopped the fluoride treatments at the dentist and fluoride in the toothpaste a few years ago, but he does get 3 cleanings a year instead of 2 (our insurance only covers 2 so I pay extra for 1).

And his bones (and teeth) are pretty dense, I think. People have *always* commented that he's heavier than he looks if they pick him up or "wrestle" with him. 53", 72 pounds , BMI about 18 point something, according to Wii :-). For the past 6+ years he's usually around the 50th+ percentile for height and weight at his checkups.

His 25 (OH)D tested @ 72 ng/ml in November '08 (I started giving him 3000iU/day of D3 when school started in late August '08 because of reduced sunshine exposure - I'll curtail supplements in late spring).

Our family is now participating in the Vitamin D Council's D-Action campaign to test people twice a year for 5 years (ZRT Lab tests with in-home finger prick/blood drop kits that participants mail in) and collect the 25 (OH)D results and health data, so I'll have an easier way to keep an eye on his D levels without a lab blood draw or doctor appt.

http://www.grassrootshealth.org/daction

Stan (Heretic) said...

Re: "I think we should all file a class-action lawsuit against the AHA, AMA, US federal government,..."

I am sorry Aaron but I think you might also file it against yourself and other academics!

Please do not take the following too personally (my criticism applies to me as well).

We have been a part of the informed elite structure in our respective countries, we received all necessary education and training in the scientific method and we were also paid to think!

We failed miserably! I think that a dentist (WAP), a cardiologist (Dr.A) and one freelance journalist (GT) did more than the entire academic establishment!

I learned my lesson and thus I am now opposing the medical and academic establishment - the greatest modern societal parasites, in my humble opinion,

Stan (Heretic)

Aaron Blaisdell said...

But Stan, I have merely committed a sin of omission, not sin of commission. We should go after the folks who've been covering things up despite knowledge to the contrary of their recommendations!

Robert Andrew Brown said...

Juhana,

http://ije.oxfordjournals.org/cgi/reprint/8/2/99

Dietary Prevention of Coronary Heart Disease: The Finnish Mental Hospital Study

I have just spent a while reading the two Finish trials and they do ask some interesting questions on the impact of vegetable oils on cardiac disease, but leave a huge number of questions too, which makes it difficult to draw conclusions.

I wish the data was more certain and complete as the subject is such an important one, and it is hard to find populations who are not eating high levels of processed foods with hidden fats trans fats etc.

I seek the truth.

All comments are welcome.

There is clearly an increase in omega 6 intake from the adipose tissue figures.

This raises questions as to a theory that high Omega 6 consumption is Omega 6 is long term a health risk.

But Omega 3 ALA rises with Omega 6 and the 3:6 18 carbon fat ratio remains about the same.

We have no information of long chain Omega 6 20:4 n6 arachidonic acid levels which are a marker of cardiac risk according to Lands.

What impact do psyco stimulants have on fat metabolism, cardiac function etc. The trial admits "It has been reported that certain of these drugs, notably the phenothiazine derivatives, may cause changes in electrocardiograms
(33—36)."

What was their calorie intake. In table 3 fats intake are recorded around 110 grams. Table 4 suggests that that constituted 35 % of energy. At 9 cals per gram fat intake is about 100 cals, which gives an intake of 2,800 cals. What would their energy needs have been.

Why the initial drop in both sets of triglycerides.

Why do the phospholipids change so differently.

What was the exact number of population changes "Even in the same hospital the patient population changed from one period to the other, but this turn-over was relatively slow, and
a considerable proportion (more than half) of patients present during anyone period was also
present during the other period (Table 1). Thus, in each hospital the patient populations during the 2 periods consisted, to a large extent, of identical individuals. The rest of patients were different
individuals, who, however, were drawn from the same general population, viz that served by the
hospital in question, and who presumably were essentially similar." From table 1 it looks like only a about a third were present for the whole trial, and under a half made it through a single period.

How was food compliance assured.

What about wastage and giving away food.

Were those with poorer cardiogram results smokers and what consumption.

What exactly were the initial inclusion criteria. What does patients who showed evidence of CHD were excluded mean. Did they do electrocaridograms at entry, if so where is the data.

How many were included who were only hospitalised part of the time "Likewise, the subjects with discontinuous stay who were present less than 50% of the time interval between their first admission and last discharge were excluded."

So many questions.

Dr. B G said...

Stephan,

Excellent 'modern' additions to Price's work (which I just rec'd in the mail and need to dig in...)!! You're truly wonderful!

(I think vit D is concentrated and activated in all vital organs and bones -- skin/hide and small intestines have the highest concentration I believe...yumm...tripe!)

It's a little late for my children too -- and I breastfed for 8mos and 2.5 yr respectively (and was probably subsequently depleted of vitamins ADEK until a year ago) but it probably was not enough as I have tan little babies so I wonder how much they really activate in the sunshine (esp as I lathered them in (!!) sunscreen SP50 no less).

We didn't consume much K2 rich foods either -- another bummer.

I do believe that children are inherently more resilient than their old parents... hopefully with higher fat, low carb, no grain eating now, we'll have some shifting in the dental arches and widening of their bridges :) Myself, I had periodontal disease (esp immed after pregnancy and lactation -- wonder W-H-Y ??!) however at the last check up -- I have no more pockets of '5' and am released to come in only 2x annually instead of all the extra (painful) de-planing and cleanings.

This was improved by: vitamin A, vitamin D 5000 IU every am, high dose fish oil, flaxseed and egg yolks and saturated fats and some K2 supplements.


Great post Stephan and thoughts here...I'd sign the suit... :) Perhaps Stephan can get a dual PhD and MPH -- public policy needs someone this intelligent and aware.

Robert -- thanks for the article. Mensink has some great publications!
n-3 fatty acids have been shown in animal trials to tx/prevent tooth loss and periodontal disease. Perhaps for children as they grow, their gum tissue and even jaw structure may remodel and change with grain-elimination and proper fatty acids? Hopefully! (I'd like to save some $$ on braces later *ha*)
Requirand P, et al. Serum fatty acid imbalance in bone loss: example with periodontal disease. Clin Nutr. 2000 Aug;19(4):271-6. PMID: 10952799
Iwami-Morimoto Y, Yamaguchi K, Tanne K. Influence of dietary n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acid on experimental tooth movement in rats. Angle Orthod. 1999 Aug;69(4):365-71. PMID: 10456605
Hamazaki K, et al. Fish oil reduces tooth loss mainly through its anti-inflammatory effects? Med Hypotheses. 2006;67(4):868-70.

-G

Robert M. said...

Juhana Harju said:
BTW, there is an interesting new review on omega-6 fatty acids. It refutes the idea that omega-6 is harmful.

I read the article in full here:

http://circ.ahajournals.org/cgi/reprint/CIRCULATIONAHA.108.191627

This is not a review -- it's three pages long, including the title page. In fact, they call it an advisory. It is, in reality, an opinion editorial.

The only review like aspect is the extremely large number of citations, e.g. citation diaherra. With a reasonable amount of summarization, this could suffice as a review at perhaps thirty pages length. Citation diarrhea is essentially proof by intimation.

However, there are no citations supporting the conclusion that we should eat 5-10 % Omega-6 PUFA, yet there it is, surrounded by a vast sea of citations. Let's look at the analysis contained in the body of the advisory, and ignore the conclusions:

"Nevertheless, a meta-analysis including 6 of these trials56 – 60,62– 64 indicated that replacing saturated fatty acids with PUFAs lowered the risk for CHD events by 24%.66 Of the remaining 4 studies, 1 reported a significant 45% reduction in risk,59 whereas no significant effect was seen in the others.60,61,65"

References [59] and [60] are, of course, the much maligned and uncontrolled Finnish mental hospital studies, which cannot be regarded as having any statistical significance, so they taint the meta-analysis cited as well. One might argue from the articles that there's no negative impact of O-6 PUFA, but the conclusions made are simply not adequately supported.

In a meta-sense, the medical community has done a wonderful job of improving lifespan and quality of life through the development of therapeutic treatments -- surgery, radiotherapy, diagnostic tools, pharmacology, etc. However, it has been a dismal failure in the field of preventative medicine. As such, while I wouldn't give a second thought to undergoing life-saving surgery, I am far more skeptical regarding nutritional advice. If one were cynical, they may note that improving preventative medicine only decreases the demand (and hence cash flow) available to therapeutic treatment.

Kiran said...

Stephan,

Great Blog. I've been reading it pretty regularly recently.

I've been taking 10mg MK-4 after reading your blog and listening to other people.

A few of things I've noticed taking MK-4.

My clotting time is much improved.
My blood circulation is much improved.
I get some sort of delayed flush effect, that doesn't seem related to any niacin intake.
I seem to be getting some pressure in my sinuses. I used to get a lot of sinus infections, but not for the last few years.
Somehow I get a headache of some sort some hours after taking MK-4.

I'm convinced that the MK-4 is doing good things for me.
I'm wondering what's going on here.
Haven't seen this type of reactions much, although there seem to be a couple of other people over at ImmInst with the same symptoms.
Reducing MK-4 intake by half seems to reduce the headache and sinus pressure.

Any ideas as to what might be going on?

Stephan said...

Monica,

I'm sorry, I don't know how you would go about that.

Kiran,

I want to be clear that I advocate getting K2 MK-4 from foods rather than supplements. Pastured butter, foie gras and brain are very good sources. I don't know why you're getting a headache but maybe it's a sign you should stop taking it or reduce the dose. I do think it's worth mentioning however that no adverse effects were reported for the 45 mg dose given to osteoporotic Japanese women in several trials. So if there are any serious side effects to high-dose supplementation (anything over 0.5 mg), they are either rare or they take a long time to develop.

JMC said...

Regarding 5 to 10% Omega 6 being healthy, here's a great letter to the editor by Dr. Chris Ramsden, that completely refutes Dr. Harris's paper:


Ramsden CE, Hibbeln JR, Lands WE. Letter to the Editor re: Linoleic acid and coronary heart disease. Prostaglandins Leukot. Essent. Fatty Acids (2008), by W.S. Harris Refers to (doi:10.1016/j.plefa.2008.09.005).Prostaglandins Leukot Essent Fatty Acids. 2009 Jan 13

Stan (Heretic) said...

JMC,

Could you paste the full text of Ramsden's letter here, or email me? Thanks,
Stan

sverlyn said...

Off topic, but does anyone else have questions about dairy products playing such a prominent place in "paleo" type diets?
I just don't see how dairy products would have been available on more than a very occasional basis
No doubt nutritionally dense, but given that it's designed to produce animals that weigh many times human weight is it an appropriate food?

Stan (Heretic) said...

Stephan,

Thanks for continuing on K2 subject! You have done a lot of work, I realize how much time it must be costing you. You could write a book. 8-:)

I think a discovery of the nutritional importance of K2 (and D3) and fetal toxicity of wheat is probably the most important side effect of the low carb dieting trend. I am curious about the so prevalent myopia in our society and have a suspicion that it may have also something to do with those issues, during eye development stage in infancy.

As you mentioned, brain and organ meat are some of the best sources of K2 (and other essential nutrients). Mind you, it is illegal in Canada. Fortunately, we can still buy pork brains illegally from the Chinese.

I should point out that beef and pork tongues are also excellent rich sources of K2 (salivary glands contain most of it).

I can fully confirm the astounding effect of a diet very high in animal produce and low in plants, on my teeth. My tooth decay has totally stopped! I wrote about that before but it is worth repeating: - my teeth would not decay even if mechanically damaged, broken in half etc. The broken exposed parts of a tooth, even if the core is open, just seals itself over time.
Stan

Micawber said...

Stan,

Nice post. By "plants" do you mean grains only? All grains, including oats? Or only wheat?

Or, do you really mean ALL plants - including green leafies, etc?

JMC said...

Hi Stan.

Sorry, but this paper requires a subscription (I have it through my university library).

Nevertheless, here's the author's conclusions:

"The widespread consumption of diets with more than 2% energy as LA should be
recognized for what it is — a massive uncontrolled human
experiment without adequate rationales or proven mechanisms"

This MD seems like a very bright guy and has published a very good book:

http://www.thenqi.com/

Stephan said...

JMC,

Nice. Thanks for pointing that out. I see that Dr. Bill Lands and Dr. Joe Hibbeln are on it. Those guys are heroes!

Sverlyn,

Dairy in adulthood is definitely not "paleo". I'm generally OK with good quality dairy because empirically speaking, there are a number of cultures that have been quite healthy on dairy-based diets. Pastured dairy is also an excellent source of K2.

Still, I recognize that casein and lactose don't agree with many people. There seem to be a number of people who are better off without dairy protein. Butter contains very little casein and lactose but is concentrated in K2, and ghee contains only traces of casein and lactose. So I think those can be a healthy part of nearly anyone's diet. In fact, I think pastured butter and ghee are the ultimate dietary fats.

Stan,

Do you have a reference for the fetal toxicity of wheat or are you referring to Price's work? This is something I'm planning to post on so if you have any additional data I'd be interested to see them.

I'm definitely with you on your myopia theory. It makes no sense that a large fraction of a species like ours would evolve to be half-blind, particularly when it begins in childhood. There would be enormous selective pressure against it. I would be very surprised if poor vision in childhood wasn't due to abnormal development caused by lifestyle factors. Given the location of the eye sockets, it could be due to the effects of K2 deficiency as well.

You mentioned that tongue is rich in K2 due to the salivary glands. Do you have a reference for that? I know the salivary glands are concentrated in K2, but I took a look online and it looks like the salivary glands are not included in what the butcher would sell as tongue, which is really just the muscle. I also looked at an entry for tongue on NutritionData and it showed a very modest level of vitamin K (1 mcg per serving I think). I do think it's interesting however that tongue is a delicacy in a number of cultures.

I'm jealous you can buy brain up there. I can't even special order if at the farmer's market. Apparently the regulators are concerned that these cows are going to catch BSE from eating grass...

Bryan - oz4caster said...

Stephan, I wonder if there might be other factors than simple K2 deficiency involved in the case of modern humans. Could there possibly be dietary factors that would interfere with proper K2 functioning? A guess in the dark might be plant lectins that increased in human diets with the advent of agriculture and especially grains.

Stephan said...

Bryan,

You read my mind!

Drs. Cynthia and David said...

Thanks for the informative post Stephan. Great work. Just curious- what will you do when you graduate?

My two boys both have dental crowding. One needed two surgeries to remove extra teeth and still needed braces, and the other is now contemplating getting surgery to have wisdom teeth removed due to crowding. Wish I could go back in time and feed us all better!

Cynthia

Jad said...

Cordain and Jenny Brand Miller wrote an article on juvenile myopia and insulin resistance/tissue hypertrophy available on Cordains website.

JMC said...

Here are Cordain papers on insulin resistance, IGF-1/IGFBP-3 and juvenile myopia (these are great papers and in it he provides further evidence that animal foods are healthy):

http://www.thepaleodiet.com/articles/Myopia%20Revision%202004.pdf

http://www.thepaleodiet.com/articles/Myopia%20Revision%202004.pdf

Matt Stone said...

Stephan,

Amazing post. Noice.

As you know I've spent my fare share thinking about this same topic as well.

One thing that always perked my interest was Pottenger's cat study.

He fed the two groups of cats the exact same diet more or less, with the same nutrient content more or less, and one group developed all of the maxillofascial changes that you mention while one group did not.

That study made me think long and hard about this issue. The difference, as we know, was that one diet was raw and the other was cooked. If it really is a matter of K2, then what about cooking the food changed the K2, or its absorption?

Also, not every group that Price witnessed totally abolished their K2-rich foods. Some still ate plenty of K2-rich foods but with the addition of modern foods. They still had a lot of problems.

Today I think a lot of people are still getting lots of K2 and other fat soluble vitamins. We have milk, eggs, butter, and seafood available 365 days a year - for every meal if we want. Cheese consumption is growing - but is associated with poor health, not good health. Just look at osteo and dental caries in the U.S. and Sweden.

I'm still saying that sugar and white flour ruin digestion, bring about changes in digestive flora, cause malabsorption (potentially of K2 as well), damage digestive tract, leading to food allergies, and resultant hormonal changes (high cortisol, low thyroid, increased cytokine production, and high insulin namely).

I ate tons of nutritious foods as a kid with my sugar and white flour. That was when my health was at its absolute worst. All rear molars rotted within 1 year of growing in. I don't think any amount of nutritious food can protect us from a diet with sugar, white flour, and vegetable oils.

I think telling the general public to eat more grassfed butter is like telling a meth addict to eat liver. They'd be better off dropping the meth and eating at Wendy's. I don't think the most perfect diet ever consumed can overcome meth's effect on biochemistry. I feel the same about modern foods, especially white sugar. Perhaps if only because it is indigestible, like cooked lactose is for cats, who can eat other cooked foods without dental, nasal, facial, and skeletal malformations in their offspring.

Stan (Heretic) said...

Re: By "plants" do you mean grains only? All grains, including oats? Or only wheat?

Micawber,

I reduced consumption of all plants, especially grains and fruit.

We still eat green vegetables and root vegetables but not as much as before. I almost totally eliminated wheat but still eat white rice occasionally. Never had any problem with rice. I don't eat oats at all because when I tried eating oates based muesli (years ago) it violently disagreed with my digestion; it rushed through the "poor me" faster than the speed of sound. 8-:(

Stephan,

Re: refs on fetal damage by wheat

I don't have any specific and solid research on wheat in fetal stage except one:

I got the first indication or a hint that wheat may be giving us more than we bargained for was from studies on triggering diabetes type 1 in rats: Amanda J.MacFarlane et al, J.Biological Chem.,278,Jan 2003. I found it mentioned by a top AHA official, Dr.Eckel in his presentation .

A good source of general refs on the subject are Barry Groves's articles, for example: 1 , 2

Other than that, one of the best source of info with references are Peter's articles on his blog. search for the keywords: wheat, gluten, lectins.

Stan (Heretic) said...

JMC,

Thanks for Cordain's paper. Very interesting. I think Fig.4 is the most convincing!
Stan

ob said...

A summary of the method of preparing high vitamin butter oil from Price himself in Chapter 16 of Nutrition and Physical Degeneration

"The program that I have found most efficient has been one which includes the use of small quantities of very high vitamin butter mixed in equal
parts with a very high vitamin cod liver oil. A simple method of
preparing the butter is by melting it and allowing it to cool for twenty
four hours at a temperature of about 70 degrees F, then centrifuging it
which provides an oil that remains liquid at room temperature. When
this butter oil is mixed in equal parts with a very high vitamin cod
liver oil, it produces a product which that is more efficient than
either alone. It should be used within a couple of weeks of the time it is mixed. It is desirable that this material be made available in
various parts of the country."

Stephan said...

Cynthia,

I think I'll do a postdoc, but I haven't decided where yet.

Matt,

We're on the same page. I don't think the diet's content of nutrients is the only factor, there's something else there. I've also noticed that the cultures Price described "degenerated" in many cases while continuing to eat a fair amount of nutrient-dense food.

All I have are faint suggestions and indirect data, but I suspect white flour and perhaps sugar interfere with fat-soluble vitamin status. I was going to post about this but I binned it because I don't have a strong story. I may end up posting anyway just to get the idea out there and have some discussion.

Stan,

Didn't know you have a website! Looks interesting. By the way, I wasn't trying to jump on your back about wheat, I just thought you might have some information I hadn't come across.

Stephan said...

Matt,

I forgot to mention one thing. I'm not sure I find Pottenger's study very convincing due to some metabolic differences between cats and humans. There's a good critique of it here:

http://www.beyondveg.com/tu-j-l/raw-cooked/raw-cooked-1h.shtml

Monica said...

I don't want to go off too long on raw diets, but it's definitely a topic that interests me.

Taurine deficiency is definitely a problem for cats, but cooking cat food still causes other problems that warrant a raw diet, in my opinion. (My vet warned me about taurine deficiency in a raw diet. How she came to that conclusion I can't say. Either she's completely ignorant or thinks people can't do the diet properly. I make sure I feed heart on a regular basis and my cats do wonderfully. My dog also doesn't need any broccoli or bananas as my vet thinks.)

I've fed all my carnivore pets, including cats, a raw diet for almost two years now with spectacular results. A raw diet, with the meat pieces large enough, does wonders for the teeth. It's completely removed the tartar from my dog's teeth, and my ten year old cat had one tooth cleaning about 2 years ago (prior to that the breath was horrible). Since then there has been no bad breath or tartar buildup. I don't anticipate ever having to deal with my pets' teeth in the vet's office ever again. I know many others that send their cats in every 6 months for a tooth cleaning.

For anyone interested, here's a before and after of my dog on a raw diet. The difference in time is only 5 months: http://sparkasynapse.blogspot.com/search?q=dora+and+junior

I feed roughly 80% meat, 10% bones, 10% organs attempting to simulate the ratio in a prey animal. Everyone who knows me thinks I am crazy but they can't argue with the fact that my pets don't smell bad, their teeth are white, and they haven't died yet.

It would be interesting to know if Pottenger made any observation on the teeth of the pets being fed cooked vs. raw foods.

Dr. B G said...

Monica,

That is very cool -- RE: raw feeding. I have taurine powder (which I take occasionally) and sprinkle on yummy liver or raw chicken but I think raw heart is far better. The NAPD 'Wulzen factor' which is stigamesterol (sp?) a phytosterol probably gets destroyed b/c it's heat-labile.

-G

Dr. B G said...

BTW...except for Peter/Hyperlipid, I think all vets are idiots (like most narrow-minded doctors unfortunately too). My current vet insisted Icook all the meats before I feed my cat. And she just gouged me for a $140 urinalysis/procedure that my cat totally did not need. (I guess I'm the idiot!!!)

Monica said...

Dr. B.G. --

Hi. I did not know Peter at Hyperlipid was a vet. I'll have to click on over there!

Yes, unfortunately, vets these days seem to be very uneducated about nutrition. I think things were better in the past decades but still not ideal, due to the focus on large beef bones. Dogs seems to have lost the instinct to not chew on these. From what I understand, no wolf would chew these bones and it can be dangerous to the teeth. Since I can't feed whole prey I focus on any meat I can while not letting my dog consume anything but the smaller, less dense bones of poulty and pork. She gets beef now and then but I take the rib bones away when the meat is consumed. It seems that we have not had an evolutionary context for feeding most animals, including ourselves, until relatively recently. I think it will improve but it will take time. Needless to say it was even better in old days when dogs were thrown bones and meat. Now they are thrown grains and soy. Terrible.

A lot of vets blame any intestinal or other issue on raw food. Unfortunately, I would withhold such information if I ever had a problem because they fixate on it. I read of one case where the dog had swallowed many nickels and was getting nickel toxicity but the vets blamed the raw diet and did not even do an X ray in the beginning.

Also unfortunate is that the government has some truly absurd things to say about feeding standards for dogs. I don't think the government has been a primary cause to this problem, but they haven't helped. The minute you give an industry-designed experiment government sanction, I think it's bad. It generally lowers standards because it protects companies from rational lawsuits. I plan to write on this dog food standard issue one of these days. The standards are completely absurd. 2/8 dogs can die on the food and it can still be labeled as complete and balanced.

There seem to be no studies on raw feeding of dogs. It's all anecdotal. It makes sense from an evolutionary standpoint, but it's anecdotal as far as I know. If you ever hear of any actual studies drop me a line on one of my blogs and let me know. I only know of one foreign observational study comparing lifespan of dogs given home prepared food to commercial food. Even the dogs with home prepared and often cooked food lived an average of almost 3 years longer. That's very significant addition to a dog's lifespan. There are a lot of breeders that have seen breed lifespans decrease in the past few decades. I don't think that's coincidence.

Dr. B G said...

Monica,

You didn't know Peter was a vet? He's doc for us humans too!! :) I guess there a lot of similarities between our pets and humans -- poor chow... shortened life spans! The Grave's diseases induced in cats from flame retardants and bisphenol (plastic canned food lining) is really concerning to me. What other autoimmune diseases are we inducing from these substances? In us and our pets?? Thanks for writing about BPA -- just saw it on your blog! Awesome thoughts there!!

Personally I've always liked more 'raw' food like Sashimi and carpaccio but of course worry at home about Trichonomas, weird worms and stuff.

Taurine is not just essential for cats but also humans. Ck out PubMed and taurine -- it reverses CHF heart failure and other morbidities. Your dogs are getting it from their meat/seafood. I haven't looked it up but I bet grassfed meat has more Taurine than grain-raised. A diet from the vets for diabetic cats has higher amounts of Taurine than regular (grain-containing) cat chow. Why? Taurine has amazing healing properties.
--strengthens immunity
--optimizes vasculature (lowers BP in humans with hypertension)
--builds lean muscle mass
--reduces insulin resistance
--concentrates in all organs and reverses damage including heart, eyes, kidney and liver
--I believe it has anti-atherogenic/plaque properties esp synergistically with EPA DHA vit D and vit A -- as these are generally all found together in food (seafood/meat/dairy)

-G

Stephan said...

Monica,

There is no doubt in my mind that a raw meat/organ diet is best for dogs and cats. My roommate put our cat on a raw diet that was basically ground-up meat, organs and bones. The changes were immediate. He lost weight, became less temperamental, and started playing with toys like a kitten (no small feat for a 16 year old cat).

I remember talking to a vet once about why pets are so often unhealthy. I went on a rant about how they aren't built to eat tons of carbohydrate, particularly grains. She stared at me blankly. But I will say, in defense of vets, a lot of them really do get it. I think it's easier to come to logical conclusions about diet-health in animals because it's less political and you have so much control over their diet.

G,

Sally Fallon has pointed out that many healthy (and unhealthy) traditional cultures eat some form of raw meat, whether it's cured meats, fermented fish or steak tartare.

Monica said...

"I think it's easier to come to logical conclusions about diet-health in animals because it's less political and you have so much control over their diet."

Interesting you should say that, because I investigated alternative pet diets before I looked into human diets when the whole melamine pet food scare erupted almost two years ago. One of my friends, an evolutionary biologist studying mites, had started doing raw feeding with her pets. (Until that time it hadn't really occurred to her and it definitely hadn't occurred to me. Duh. Evolution. OK I study fungus but still.)

In any case, that sent me on a search for an evolutionarily appropriate diet for humans after someone on a raw feeding list mentioned Weston A Price and I got curious. I searched WAPF's site, got intrigued, and ordered NAPD. The rest is history!

Even though most wet cat foods are OK, they're not ideal. They still have all sorts of weird stuff in them. I saw an enormous change from kibble to raw food, too. My only regret is that my last dog's life could have been saved by a raw diet. I found out about it too late for him. Telling people about real food for them and their pets has become a big passion of mine. Sometimes I go a little overboard. :)

Monica said...

Dr. B.G. ---unnnhhhhh. Flame retardants!? In cat food!? Sheesh. They are worse than I thought.

Anna said...

No, Monica, not flame retardants in food (but BPA in pop-top food can linings is an issue, too), but flame retardant from the furnishings in our homes, like carpeting, furniture and mattress materials, etc. (probably not so good for humans, too)... I know soooo many people who have not one, not two, but even three or four cats either simultaneously, or in a row, develop hyperthyroidism. Definitely environmental.

I'm another raw meat & bones cat feeder, too. I had a cat that became "a fat old cat" before he was even 5 years old. I had no idea it was the free-feeding kibble. Long story, but it was my own human diet paradigm shift that helped me focus in the inappropriateness of feeding meat-flavored cereal to an obligate carnivore. One year of canned food first, with some improvement, but then blood tests indicated Feline Chronic Renal Failure. Refused my vet's advice to switch to Rx low protein kibble (she's also my neighbor and my son's best friends' mom) and instead made the commitment to making ground up raw meat and bones a la www.catnutrition.org. "Old" fat cat was chasing his tail within a week! Blood tests normal in two months, then again in six months, then again in one year. But he never lost weight. Probably was too late for his damaged metabolism. But I am quite convinced his final years were better for the BARF diet. He had three good years on raw before we had him put down just before Thanskgiving).

Younger kitty (age 4-6 yrs estimated) is *thriving* on nearly 3 years of raw homemade food! I also make raw food for neighbor's two cats, and one other friend's cat is on homemade raw after she could eat my cat food without getting the runs, but not commercial kibble (any brand). My vet can't deny that it has been good for my cats, but she's "waiting for the research" before she can recommend it to clients. Hell will freeze over first, because the pet food research is dominated/funded by pet food companies.

I was one of the few pet owners with nothing to worry about during the pet food melamine recall. Ahhhhh! Same for bagged spinach recall, peanut recall... Hmmmm, I sense a theme!

Dr. B G said...

Monica,

Yea, I think flame retardants from our IKEA and Pottery Barn furniture which gets into flaked off into 'dust' etc.

Anna I believe you're correct -- the convenient pop-top cans are probably the worst offenders. Thanks for all your raw feeding tips (as always :) )!!

-G

Dana Seilhan said...

I am a living example of what happens when a woman eats like crap and then, on top of that, does not breastfeed her infant. I had two strikes against me from the very beginning, and had to have one and a half sets of orthodontic braces growing up, plus a headgear at night for a while to line my jaws up better, plus my wisdom teeth removed later on. My lower jaw is underdeveloped. I have no idea what might be up with the rest of my face, whether it's underdeveloped or not but I've always had a small mouth so I'm pretty sure the arches are not what they could be.

Not only is it important to get the fat-solubles before and during pregnancy but it is also tremendously important to breastfeed the infant if at all possible, and for at least two years. Not only does it provide nutrition, it helps key the child's immune system correctly AND provides for much better jaw and skull development than does feeding with a bottle. It takes more work to nurse than to suck a bottle, and all those muscle movements tug the skull in various directions, causing a certain pattern of growth over time. Mothering magazine has covered this in some depth.

Mainstream medicine and the mainstream media tell us nothing about these things. As far as they're concerned, vitamin K is for clotting. That's all they'll tell you.

My daughter's had the benefit of breastfeeding and in that sense has a nice, wide face and a big smile but I was malnourished while pregnant with her (and have been for most of my life), and on top of that she had urinary reflux (one kidney was underdeveloped also) and had to be on antibiotics for a year and a half. Between one and the other she has caps on her upper front teeth and several fillings. I'm trying to get her on track so she doesn't have to go through this with her permanent teeth. Thank goodness she eats berries like they're candy. She'll snack on butter too, if I have it out and I let her.

As for dairy, I'm surprised people don't discuss fermented dairy more often when debating its healthfulness. A frequent objection to the consumption of dairy is that lactose and casein are difficult to digest, but if you have fermented the milk then the lactose is nearly all gone and the casein has presumably been broken down. This is true with kefir, anyway; I have no idea if yogurt cultures break down the protein as much. Anyway, these days I either stick with dairy fat in the form of heavy cream or butter, or I drink milk as kefir. Someone gave away some kefir grains locally on Freecycle a few months ago. Best darned thing I ever got off that list. I want some piima culture now too, then I can stop buying commercial cream cheese. :) Dairy is an easy way to get more fat into my diet, I think, not to mention the benefit to my intestinal flora and hence my immune system when the dairy's fermented.

Stephan said...

Hi Dana,

I do like fermented dairy but I don't think fermentation breaks down the casein. Correct me if I'm wrong.

trinkwasser said...

Wow, this is astonishing stuff! Colour me in as another one who has learned to spot "Wheat Face", not least in the mirror. Apart from the crowding, my teeth more or less needed filling as soon as they emerged. Radically cutting carbs especially starch has greatly reduced the plaque and other current damage including gum disease, but obviously too late to fix the original problem.

There are a lot of fit healthy nonobese octagenarians here, for which I entirely blame the local high quality foods - meat, fish and vegetables - and you seldom see the same pointy faces among them.

trinkwasser said...

Oh I got interrupted and forgot to add, I also had a cat with a small face. Mother was a farm cat but I suspect her kitten may have been brought up on that damn kibble.

Stephan Guyenet said...

Hi Trinkwasser,

That's great. By the way, my thinking has evolved some since I wrote this post. I still think K2 plays an important role in cranial development, but I also think chewing stress plays a role. No stress = crowded teeth in a number of species. I'll be writing about it soon.

By the way, I accidentally deleted one of your comments while I was moderating it... sorry.

mamammunsta said...

Hi,

Interesting and very informative blog :)

Chanced upon it when I was surfing for cranial development to do some reading.

I'm not a scientist, though I majored in Microbiology and minored in Biochemistry for my undergrad degree, but I do find your opinions of great value.

A little background on myself.

I'm of ethnic Chinese origin, with grandparents on both sides from China, before they migrated to South East Asia in the early 1920s.

Physically, I've a high forehead, wide eyes, wide nostrils, and was lucky to have kept all 32 teeth. I've never had braces, or breathing difficulties, although I have poor eyesight since childhood.

I really wouldn't know what my mother did, or did not eat during her pregnancy with me, or what she gave me when I was growing up, but our family wasn't exactly well-to-do.

What I do know is the lifestyle that my family try to practice.

It's easy to fall into the trappings of convenience, and look for easy ready-made 'mixes' to cook our food with, but my mother had always tried to make her own spices, plant her own herbs and keep sugar to the minimum in our diet.

But most importantly, I think, is that she had always ensured we had home-cooked food (I had my first McDonald's meal at 16, haha), and was always practising moderation.

Golden rules in my childhood:

1. Hydrate often- drink plenty of water.
2. Eat regular meals. Breakfast should be filling, lunch should be comfortable, dinner should be minimal- enough so you're not hungry.
3. Eat until you're comfortable, not full. Don't be greedy.
4. Always have balanced meals, and try to always eat fresh (instead of processed) foods. It did help that we had food from the jungle (literally) easily available.
5. Stay active always.

I don't know about the European diet, but it seems to work well thus far with my generation (the late 70s, early 80s children). Very few of my schoolmates had to wear braces, and less than half had had to go through painful wisdom teeth extraction.

Although I do notice that more and more children nowadays are wearing braces even as young as 10-12. I do believe that it's true- the modern diet has a lot to do with many of our modern diseases: gout, hypertension, diabetes to name a few.

My grandmother will be celebrating her 90th birthday come late December, and the only health issue she has is the occasional hypertension. :) She says it's because she is careful about what she consumes, and stays active all the time.

Elizabeth Gray-Gore said...

Hi, Stephen.
I am so glad I found your blog again. The information is so helpful.
I have a question. Have you found any statistical information on the increased need or usage of braces for Americans? I ask because I had lunch with my 2nd grader and almost half of her classmates had narrow dental arches and overlapping or crowded teeth. This was not in an economically deprived town, on the contrary.
It shows how far away Americans are from the truth of nutritional needs of mothers and children.
Appreciate your time. Please keep up the good work.

Maria said...

Nice!