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Though all organs of the body are integrated in the developmental process, they form “in utero” according to a staggered time schedule. Consider the dentofacial structures alone. The mandibular arch in the fetus begins to develop about the 28th day, while the dental ridge begins to develop between the 40th and 45th day. The germs of the deciduous teeth form about the 65th day and so on.
The influence of the diet on the face of the unborn child is dramatic. If, during her pregnancy, the mother suffers extreme emotional tension with accompanying malnutrition, the child will very possibly show a narrow and poorly developed face. On the other hand, if the mother enjoys relatively good physical and emotional health and eats an optimum diet, the child will develop in an optimum fashion.
Even after an infant is born, dietary deficiencies can leave their mark on the bones developing under the stresses of walking and chewing. If routine X-rays are taken of the lateral and anterioposterior views of the skull, hands and feet, the first evidence of fragmentation of the bones will be in the internal structures of the talus, cuboid or calcaneum and can appear as early as the third month of life. Obvious fragmentation does not begin, however, until the child starts to use his feet in walking. By the second year, the cuboid, navicular and three cuneiform bones may be severely involved. Fragmentation of the bases of the metatarsals two, three, four and five and the proximal epiphysis of the metatarsal of the first digit may be noted. In many children, there is a disturbance in the proximal epiphysis of the first phalanx. As the epiphyseal heads of the metatarsal bones develop, they may not appear in a regular order, but frequently as semi-heads or fragmented heads, or they may appear at a much later time than is normally expected. This fragmentation reaches its maximum severity between the third and fourth years of age.
The process of healing will begin at the bases of the metatarsals between the 4th and 5th years of age. At the same time, the cuneiform bones and the navicular bone are beginning to become smooth. The third cuneiform usually shows signs of healing first. By the age of 6, the epiphyseal heads are largely healed, while the navicular bone and the first cuneiform may still show signs of some unhealed fragmentation. Occasionally, active fragmentation is present up to and including the 7th year. The scars formed during the healing process are formed by a thickening of internal condensation of the trabeculae in the internal structure of the bone.
Between the 10th and 11th years, when the epiphysis of the base of the metatarsal appears, new evidence of fragmentation may occur.
During the period of marked fragmentation of the bones of the feet, a child may show little or no outward evidence of extensive bone damage. He may limp for a brief period, or his foot may become flat. He rarely complains of pain. Yet, it is entirely possible that the widespread prevalence of tarsal and metatarsal failure in the deficient child may account for the crippling foot disturbances of later life and may even be the forerunner of arthritis.
One example was a boy patient who experienced profound difficulty in becoming established on an agreeable nutritional program. His mother suffered from severe anemia during her pregnancy and was unable to nurse him. By the age of three months, this boy developed chronic bronchitis and asthma, paralleled by visible disturbances in the osseous development. The bones of his feet were particularly affected. Healing of the basal epiphysis was not complete at three years, ten months and required another year before it appeared normal.
It is important to note that the quality of the diet, both prenatal and postnatal, affects all of the osseous structures. Though the foot is the easiest of the structures of the lower extremities to study, the ankle, knee and hip may show disturbances in growth equally as well. The carpals and the metacarpals of the hand are not under as severe stress at the same developmental time as the corresponding bones of the foot. The child does not begin to use his hand for heavy work until after the sixth year. By this time, the formation of the carpal bones is well along, and the epiphyseal heads and the bases of the metacarpals are thoroughly developed. Therefore, no definite correlation can be drawn between the hand and foot, with the possible exception that the carpal bones may show a suggestive concomitant fragmentation of the internal trabeculation. Correlations can be made between the fragmentation found in the foot and malformation of the dentofacial structures.
The time between 3 months and 6 years corresponds to the erupting and early-shedding of deciduous teeth, to the expanding of the dental arches to make room for permanent dentition and to the budding of the permanent teeth, except for the third molars. It also corresponds to the formation of the metatarsal bones and of the epiphyses and to the completion and articulation of the metatarsal bones with the cuboid and cuneiform bones and with each other. Whenever deficiency in the osseous structure and coarse trabeculation of the jawbone can be seen, severe metatarsal fragmentation in the foot can also be seen.
The scars which are laid down in the bones during periods of fragmentation appear to be permanent. Adult patients who have dentofacial failures show scars in the bones of their feet similar to those found in children. Though it appears impossible to remove the scars themselves, and impossible to change the developmental pattern of bones, it is possible to improve organ efficiency and to alter structural development. As mentioned, it is possible for an adult to rebuild calcium in his bones by consuming adequate quantities of the growth promoting substances found in fresh and raw foods. The new bone laid down in regeneration is not the original bone repaired, but is a scar bone.
X-rays and photographs in my files show the recovery of a 5 year old girl with a disfiguring mandibular protrusion. Placed on a diet rich in growth and developmental activators and encouraged to use her facial structures by chewing tough objects and by making faces, the girl showed remarkable improvement by the age of 10. Though no orthodontic treatment was applied, her mandibular protrusion was largely corrected by the development of the middle third of her face. This child is representative of a group of children who experience improvement in facial development solely because of dietary improvement.
Improvement of the facial configuration of deficient children can be either progressive or retrogressive. We have had the opportunity of noting broadening and development of the middle face by applying the principles learned from our research on cats. We have had the sad experience of seeing children who materially improve during a 2 to 3 year period and then show a definite retrogression because they suddenly decided that the details of their dietary program were too irksome for them to continue. It is logical to assume that children who have fundamental structural weaknesses will lose what they gain more easily when they revert to a poor diet.
IN APPLYING THE PRINCIPLES LEARNED FROM OUR EXPERIMENTAL WORK WITH CATS TO HUMAN BEINGS, WE FIND TWO THINGS:
- ALL PEOPLE ARE INFLUENCED BY PRECEDING GENERATIONS; AND
- PEOPLE CAN BE HEALTHY ONLY IF THE STOCK FROM WHICH THEY COME IS HEALTHY AND THE FOOD WHICH THEY EAT IS ADEQUATE.
Since the individual is a product of heredity, both germ-plasm and chemical, the way he develops after birth depends on the nutrition of his inheritance as well as on his own nutrition. For this reason, nutrition becomes one of the most important elements in preventive medicine. Good food is important to the infant, the adolescent, the adult and especially to the expectant mother. At any age, injury can be done by an inadequate diet. Inadequacy in infancy and childhood alters development; in later life, it affects the efficiency of organic function, reproductivity and general physiologic activity.
Scientists first thought they had established that good nutrition depends upon the adequate intake of proteins, carbohydrates, fats and minerals only to realize later that hormones, enzymes and vitamins are just as essential to the building and maintenance of the human body. They are just beginning to realize that these vital growth substances are destroyed by modern methods of milling, heating and processing foods; and, moreover, that modern methods of agriculture and animal husbandry are depleting the soil and depleting the quality of plant and animal products which furnish these substances to our diet.
We cannot go back and change the ancestors of our children, but we CAN prescribe a diet which is adequate, not only from the standpoint of proteins, fats, carbohydrates and minerals, but from the standpoint of hormones, enzymes and vitamins as well.
Published in the Price-Pottenger Journal of Health and Healing
Winter 1987 | Volume 11, Number 3
Copyright © 1987 Price-Pottenger Nutrition Foundation, Inc.®
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