During the1920’s and 1930’s Dr. May Mellanby conducted dietary trials in England to determine the role of nutrition in preventing and healing cavities. She used children living in institutions, which allowed complete control over their diets. The children’s teeth were examined at the start of the trial, and the number, texture and degree of each cavity was noted. After each six month trial, the teeth were re-examined.
The standard diet included milk, eggs, meat, fish, vegetables, fruit, bread, oatmeal, a moderate amount of sugar and no supplemental vitamin D, except a small amount in eggs and from sun exposure. The Remineralizing Diet was similar but higher in calcium, and vitamin D was supplemented up to 2000 IU per day. Added sugar was held constant in both diets at about 14 teaspoons per day as sugar, jam and syrup. There was no difference in dental hygiene practices between the two groups.
The differences were startling.
The children following the Remineralizing Diet had 93% fewer cavities than those following the Standard Diet. Furthermore, the pre-exisiting cavities in the Remineralizing Diet group actually healed without dental intervention.
These different outcomes were not due to the amount of sugar consumed, how they brushed their teeth, or even “genetics”.
The results demonstrate conclusively that the prevention of new cavities, and even the arrest and healing of existing ones, is achievable by following a calcium-rich diet with optimal intake of vitamin D.
(Dr Weston Price had even better results when vitamin K2 was also supplemented.)
Dr Mellanby’s results show that moderate amounts of refined sugar can be tolerated as long as there is sufficient vitamin D, calcium and phosphorus and that the required intake of these nutrients is significantly greater than what is currently recommended.
The details of Dr Mellanby’s Remineralizing Diet can be found here. While the results were remarkable, the diet itself is quite unremarkable.
Dr Mellanby also found the best results occurred when intake of cereal grains was limited, due to the dietary phytate that is associated with the fiber. Phytate chemically binds to calcium and other minerals in the diet, including magnesium, zinc and iron, making them unavailable for absorption. The net effect of dietary phytate in the diet is the same as reducing the intake of calcium and other minerals. For best results either reduce phytate intake, or increase the intake of calcium.
View Dr. Mellanby’s results through the microscope.
Download a fascinating summary of May Mellanby’s research from “Nutrition and Disease” (1934) by Sir Edward Mellanby [pdf]