The Effect of Oats on Children’s Teeth
It is not just in animal experiments that teeth disintegrate from consumption of whole grains. Dr. May Mellanby published several articles in the prestigious British Medical Journal about food and tooth decay from 1924 —1932. Multiple investigations were done to show the effect of oatmeal and fat-soluble vitamins on children’s teeth. The children studied already had numerous cavities. A grain-free diet high in fat-soluble vitamins A and D from cod liver oil produced the best results, with essentially no new cavities forming. These grain-free children also showed signs of their decayed teeth remineralizing. The tooth-healing diet included milk, meat, eggs, butter, potatoes and cod liver oil.
By accident medical doctor J.D. Boyd healed diabetic children’s decayed teeth by designing a grain-free diet. The diet meant to control diabetes not only stopped cavities it turned soft tooth enamel hard and glossy. These findings were published in 1928 in the Journal of the American Medical Association. Dr. Boyd’s diet consisted of milk, cream, butter, eggs, meat, cod liver oil, vegetables and fruit. Please note that both Dr. Mellanby’s and Dr. Boyd’s tooth-remineralizing diet came from a time when milk, butter and cream were raw, farm-fresh and grass-fed.
Meanwhile in two other feeding experiments by Dr. Mellanby a low fat-soluble vitamin A and D diet with the addition of 1/2 to 1 cup of oatmeal per day produced an average of six new cavities per child during the trial period. Their preexisting cavities did not heal in any way. A diet with less oatmeal and some fat-soluble vitamins produced an average of four and a half new cavities per child, with a few of the preexisting cavities healing during the experiment. The take-home message from these experiments is that oatmeal has a devastating effect on teeth, and that the maximum amount of bone growth and tooth remineralization in these studies occurred with grain-free diets.
Both Edward and May Mellanby’s decades of research show that oatmeal interferes more than any other grain studied with tooth mineralization. Intermediate interference of tooth mineralization occurs from corn, rye, barley and rice. Wheat germ, corn germ and other grain germs have a “baneful” effect on teeth. White flour interferes the least with tooth mineralization.
That white flour does not interfere as much with tooth mineralization corresponds with Weston Price’s feeding experiments discussed in an earlier post in which cavity-ridden school children consumed two meals per day consisting of white flour, and one excellent meal per day with nutrient-dense foods. Even while consuming the white flour the children all became immune to tooth cavities. In human nutrient absorption experiments, in diets with mostly whole wheat flour (8% of grain solids removed) calcium, magnesium, phosphorus and potassium were less completely absorbed than a more refined flour (with 21% of grain solids removed).
If white flour interfered the least with tooth remineralization you might wonder why native people on a white flour diet succumbed to tooth decay. The answer lies in the fact that white flour in general either replaced more nutrient-dense foods or that in a context of a low mineral, high sugar diet, white flour was disastrous for teeth. Had white flour been consumed with cod’s heads and cod’s liver, or raw milk cheese the results would be different. (Note: I do not advocate white flour consumption.) Rather white flour was consumed generally with sugar in the form of pastries, or with jam and jelly on toast.
The long chain of beliefs that have led to the modern conclusion that whole grains are healthy to eat comes without looking at the complete body of evidence. The problems seen with whole grains primarily lie in the toxic properties Dr. Mellanby identified residing in the bran and the germ. Grain toxicity is then exponentially magnified by the absence of vitamins C and D in our diet which protect against grain toxins. Conversely, overly processed and mishandled grains, particularly white flour, have their own host of health consequences. The answer to healthy grain consumption lies in the middle ground of not overly processed, and not minimally processed.
Experiments with sprouted grains showed that oats and corn that are first sprouted and then soured at room temperature for two days (thus eliminating large amounts of anti-nutrients) lost their ability to produce rickets. While germinated and then soured grains do not produce rickets, they do not create optimal bone growth unless there is sufficient vitamin D in the diet.