Nutritional Lessons From Africa

I saw a patient today who works for the US Peace Corps in Batswana. When I mentioned how in indigenous cultures people had nice broad jaws with nicely aligned super bright teeth with no cavities, he noted excitedly that in the area where he worked, this was definitely the case. In fact, he was jealous of the natives’ bright beautiful smiles. 


Traditional cultures in certain parts of the world practice contraception by breast-feeding. Most doctors will tell you that breast-feeding is not a reliable form of birth control. However, the way a woman breast-feeds is vastly different in the developed areas versus underdeveloped parts of Africa. 


In the US, most women who breast-feed on demand begin to taper off to intermittent feedings after a few months or at most 1-2 years, either supplementing with solid foods, or pumping and giving the milk through a bottle. I’ve written about how bottle-feeding is thought to aggravate dental crowding and malocclusion. 


In certain parts of Africa (such as in Batswana), women breast-feed on demand, with the child strapped in slings to the mother’s chest, feeding on demand until he or she becomes too heavy or becomes more independent. Typically, this lasts about 2-3 years. My patient confirmed that women would typically have 3-4 children evenly spaced over a span of 10-12 years. Repeated, short bursts of breast-feeding promotes prolactin release, which is an effective form of contraception. In developed countries, the interval between feedings lengthen over the first year, increasing the odds that pregnancy may occur.


He also noted that for the most part, the natives are very healthy, with few stresses, and they generally eat off the land, without too much processed foods or refined sugars. He even feels stronger and healthier when he lives and eats there. The main health problems that he sees are mainly infectious: malaria and HIV. 


Dr. Brian Palmer, a dentist that has spent his entire career researching the link between bottle-feeding and obstructive sleep apnea, has stated that in some areas of the world, people can’t afford infant formula, let alone regular food. The only source of nutrition for infants and toddlers is breast milk. Notice that despite the fact that the children are stick thin, they all have nice smiles and bright teeth.


Compare this with pictures of young children (in Dr. Weston Price’s book) who eat lots of sweets and processed foods—you’ll see crooked, stained teeth with lots of cavities, along with narrowed jaws and faces.


Take note of a native rural African’s jaw structure, and compare the facial width and jaw structures against multiple generation African-American faces. It’s a pretty stark difference.

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