Kids, Paleo, and Dental Health

evolution rKaren Mozzo, publisher of CARE Magazine, recently interviewed me. She wanted to help readers of the magazine get a handle on how Paleo would work with kids, and how dental health was related to all of this. Here are her questions and my answers:
Is a Paleo diet a healthy diet for children under age 18?
Absolutely. But the term “diet” is misleading. A diet generally is a strict form of eating where calories are counted and portions of food are measured in some fashion. A Paleo diet is really a lifestyle of eating nutrient-dense foods with no concern for calories. When the proper foods are eaten together, then the body begins to regulate its digestive hormones, and the body will tell you to stop eating because it is full. Every meal should be thought of as a plate of food. Conceptually, at least one-half of the plate should consist of non-starchy vegetables; about one-quarter should consist of some type of protein; and the last quarter or less could be make up of healthy fats, and possibly a starchy vegetable, or some nuts or seeds, or some deeply colored fruits. The nutrients that are available from eating animal products, vegetables, fruits, nuts, and seeds are all the nutrients that the human body needs – no matter what the age.
Does some sugar in a child’s diet mean they are destined for poor dental health?
Sugar in the natural form is not the same as concentrated sugars and refined sugars that actually are added to foods like processed foods. Sugars that are in fruits are much healthier than the sugars a child gets in soda, sports drinks, cakes, cookies, candy, and the list goes on and on. However, if too much fresh fruit is eaten instead of balancing fruit with proteins and vegetables and healthy fats, then too much fructose will accumulate in the body creating excesses for the liver and the brain, damaging the gut, and creating fat deposits around the waist. Sugar is a fermentable carbohydrate, and if bad bacteria are predominant in the gut and in the mouth, and if sugar is a dominant element in the child’s diet, and if healthy nutrients are not part of the child’s diet, then tooth decay will be inevitable.
How do you suggest dealing with the typical parent’s dilemma of keeping sugary foods out of their children’s diet? Regulating or eliminating sweets, sugary drinks, refined milk products, processed grain treats may be the best idea, but it’s often not practical for a parent. Often times, parents are not even aware if their child has sugar… i.e. a sports drink or “energy” bar after a Little League game; cakes or sweets at a birthday party.
Parents are in control of the foods that are presented to their children. Healthy foods are easy to provide, but in the beginning there is a learning curve. The books I recommended in my last article have excellent meals that are easy to prepare and delicious to eat for the whole family. Many of them are easy to pack up and take on a trip or to school.
The foods that are most important to eliminate are grains and added sugars. Whole foods will not contribute significantly to an unhealthy level of sugars. If a child’s food choices in the home are generally healthy, then some cheating outside of the home is not going to be a problem. Dr. Loren Cordain, who is the “godfather” of Paleo research, states that if a person is 85% compliant, then that person overwhelmingly will benefit from a Paleo eating lifestyle.
The younger the child is when you start a Paleo lifestyle, the easier it will be to follow. An older child’s eating habits may be more difficult to change but not impossible. Take baby steps, but children learn from what they see at home. You are their model.
Parents these days are so often in a hurry to get everything done in a typical day. Grocery shopping presents quite a hurdle in these cases… it’s so much easier to ‘grab and go’ when your child is hungry and you need to get them fed. What’s a parent to do?
Again, try to avoid the grains and added sugars when your child is fed. Shop the outer aisles in the grocery store where the more natural foods are located and avoid the packaged and overly processed foods in the center of the store. If purchasing packaged foods, look at the ingredients, and be selective. You will be amazed at what are in some of these “foods”. Again, grains and added sugars are the most troublesome. You may not be 100% Paleo, but you will be providing your child with a very healthy foundation.
Some quick ideas for on-the-go:
Raw almond butter spread on stalks of celery
Raw vegetables and/or sliced fruits with individual containers of live-culture, • • full-fat yogurt for dipping. Add spices to the yogurt to create different flavors
Chicken salad or tuna salad with chopped nuts, blueberries, and cut up celery. Lettuce leaves (butter or Romaine lettuce) are good for a wrap
Raw macadamia nuts
If you eat out while ‘on the road’, are fast food places forever banned? What if they’re on their way to an out-of-town game and can’t take the time to stop for a sit down meal?
Fast food places usually are not a problem once you understand what you cannot eat.
Some examples of what to eat:
Some type of salad with olive oil and vinegar dressing and whatever spices that are available at the restaurant.
Hard boiled eggs, hamburger or chicken meat – crumbled up and tossed into the salad
Fresh fruit if available
Water, unsweetened iced or hot tea, or seltzer

Why the Tooth Fairy Gave Up Grains:
A Whimsical Tale

evolution rYou may think you know all about tooth fairies. As you know, they discreetly appear at night to exchange your child’s baby tooth, that’s tucked away under his or her pillow, for little trinkets. They flutter about with their cute big eyes and their huge smiles and their soft, silky wings. But what you probably didn’t know was that these precious little busy bees have been around for a long time. As a matter of fact, they have been around for tens of thousands of years.


These tooth fairies knew of a time when little boys and little girls hardly ever got tooth decay. In those days, mommies and daddies worked hard gathering and hunting food. The children ate all the good, nutritious foods that their parents brought to the table. Bodies were strong and lean, and teeth were white and straight. Adult teeth lasted a lifetime, as they were designed to do. But then, something changed, but the fairies didn’t realize it until much later.


About 10,000 years ago, certain foods were cultivated that slowly became part of almost everyone’s diet. The fairies didn’t think any harm was going to come from these new foods. But it did. In time, these foods started to damage the teeth of children and adults. All of a sudden, it seemed like many people started to develop toothaches and loose teeth and holes in their teeth. The fairies finally learned that something was wrong with these new foods. They learned that these foods – these grains – were the cause of the dental problems and other health problems that were beginning to plague humans.


Then, refined sugars became part of most human’s diets. And then, the fairies understood that these sugars added to the problems from grains. The fairies made a pledge to give up these grains and sugars and to try to tell everybody that these were not healthy foods.


The way the fairies used to eat, and the way humans used to eat before grains became so much a part of the diet, was the healthy way to eat. So the fairies became focused on a mission – to tell the world that grains and sugars needed to be avoided in order to regain dental health and overall health. You see, our bodies were never designed to eat these modern day foods. Our guts just couldn’t fully digest them, and these foods eventually upset our delicate balance. It took a long time for the fairies to realize that so many chronic problems were caused by these “foods”.


So, the fairies gave up grains and sugars and started to teach the world to be a healthier place. Most importantly, the fairies wanted to teach the children, whom they were meant to protect, to eat healthy.


To create healthy meals for your children, consider leaving grains and added-sugars out, and replacing them with healthy meats, fish, vegetables, fruit, nuts, seeds, and various spices. It is important to include leafy green vegetables at every meal. The foods hunter-gatherers ate for thousands and thousands of years are the foods that will allow healthy bodies of all ages to survive and thrive today. These food choices are part of a Paleo Lifestyle. A great book that describes the Paleolithic lifestyle is The Primal Blueprint Updated and Expanded (2012) by Mark Sisson.


Here are some of my favorite family books to help you design exciting food options for your kids as well as yourselves:

Nom Nom Paleo: Food For Humans, Michelle Tam and Henry Fong, 2013
Paleo Lunches and Breakfasts on the Go, Diana Rodgers, 2013
Practical Paleo: A Customized Approach…, Diane Sanfilippo, et al, 2012
The Paleo Primer, Keris Marsden and Matt Whitmore, 2013


Next time I’ll post some of my favorite recipes. Here are a few that I will post:

• Yummy and Oh-So-Healthy Smoothie
• Cracklin’ Italian-spiced Chicken Thighs
• No-Oat Oatmeal
• Plantain Pancakes
• Wild Caught Salmon Baked in Parchment Paper
• Homemade Ghee the Easy Way

What Skeletons Can Teach Us

evolution rI remember going to the Smithsonian Institute in Washington DC as a child. My favorite exhibits were the dinosaurs. I was in awe with the age of these beasts. Skeletons told a fascinating story to me as a child.
Today, skeletons still tell the story.
Human evolution dates back about 2.5 million years. During that period of time, our bodies slowly adapted to our environment and the foods that were available to us for nutrition. Our bodies developed a method of using nutrients for our growth and survival. It took 2.5 million years for our cells and organs to slowly evolve.
Human skeletal remains recently have been discovered in Spain dating back about 400,000 years. Today, DNA testing can actually look at dental remains and determine what types of bacteria existed in the mouths of these people. We now can determine how healthy our evolutionary ancestors were. Science is amazing!
The DNA taken from teeth of skeletons dating about 20,000 to 10,000 years ago showed bacteria that were not virulent. In other words, our primal ancestors rarely demonstrated tooth decay or gum disease. Then, from about 10,000 years ago (when grains were introduced into our diets) until about 150 years ago, the DNA became unhealthy, and decay and gum disease began to become the norm. Then, 150 years ago (when flour and sugar became a staple of our diets) the bacteria went crazy causing lots of decay and gum disease.
What was happening was the good gut bacteria that our species developed during 2.5 million years of evolution slowly began to change to unhealthy types because of the insult from these unnatural foods. Unfriendly bacteria began to breakdown our intestinal cells. Food particles and bacteria that were never supposed to leak into our blood system began invading our bodies. Today, our bodies have not had time to evolve to compensate for these rapid insults. Degenerative diseases that were never part of the human experience began to emerge.
Today, genetically modified foods that never have been tested over time in humans also have negatively affected our gut bacteria. In addition, toxic additives in processed foods have been accumulating in our bodies contributing to our problems. We are living longer with decreasing quality of life. Unhealthy gut bacteria and associated gut disorders have been implicated in cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, Alzheimer’s, ADHD in children, gastrointestinal diseases, allergies, autoimmune diseases, and on and on. And, our mouths are paying the price.
So what can we do today to get ourselves back in shape? We need to look at evolution and how our bodies were designed to function and thrive. We must work in concert with the needs of our bodies.
From a dental standpoint, brushing and flossing are important, but healthy food choices and friendly gut bacteria are more important. We should eat the foods that give us nutrition and not destroy our bodily systems. We need to repopulate our gut bacteria with friendly types that can ward off disease and maintain a healthy intestinal environment.
We also need to occasionally exercise our muscles hard, to sleep 7-8 hours a night, and to deal with life’s stresses more effectively. But, that is another discussion for another time.


Anyone Can Do Almost Anything For 30 Days

evolution rThink about it. Thirty days out of one’s life is literally a drop in the bucket – just 0.11% of an average person’s lifespan. So, I am going to suggest a 30-day challenge that might be life changing. First, consider what you could learn in 30 days.
You might be able to determine if a new job were right for you, or if a certain location were worth moving to, or if the fluffy little dog with the huge inviting eyes you bought for a pet is now your best friend. Thirty days also could tell you if a dietary change might improve your health for the rest of your life.
Most of us who are over 40 years old are dealing with at least some type of physical discomfort, or at the other extreme some type of degenerative disease. There are medicines and salves and don’t forget the “in treatments” of the day to care for those problems. But I believe there might be a better way.
My suggestion might make a huge change in your health. If I were right, then you could become a huge winner. If I were wrong, then it only would be 30 days out of the rest of your life – not a big deal.
Here is my challenge to you:
For the next 30 days, or whenever you want to start, stop eating all grains and products made from grains. Grains include wheat, rye, barley, corn, rice, millet, and oats. And stop all foods that are made from these grains like bread, muffins, cookies, cakes, pretzels, pasta, popcorn, pancakes, pizza dough, etc. You also need to be aware that many grains are in the ingredients of other processed foods. So, you will need to read the ingredient labels on the foods you buy at the grocery store.
What’s wrong with grains? Science has shown that grains irritate the lining of your gut, increase unhealthy bacteria in your gut that travel throughout your body, and interfere with your body’s ability to absorb necessary nutrients from your foods. Grains can create chronic inflammation in your body that may contribute to many chronic diseases. Grains also can produce irritations in your mouth like ulcers and sores that seem not to heal.
At the end of 30 days, you just might realize that you feel much better than you have felt for a long time. You also may discover that you have lost some of those pounds that you wanted to get rid of for a while. You even may decide to extend this experiment and include additional healthy choices to see what other positive outcomes you could enjoy.
I am here to help you with those new choices.


Gum Health and Ancestral Foods – An Investigative Study

evolution rThere has never been a published study in the scientific literature that I could find that tested the effects of nutrient-dense foods on gum disease. So, I designed a clinical trial in my offices that is halfway completed. Here is what I am doing:

I selected 20 patients who have gum disease that includes bleeding gums. I measured how much infection was in their mouths, and then added nutrient-dense foods in the form of capsules to their normal diet everyday for 30 days. The foods consisted of fermented cod liver oil, high vitamin butter, fermented skate liver oil, and organic kelp powder. These nutrient-dense foods have a host of necessary fat-soluble vitamins, trace minerals, and various natural nutrients that assist our bodies’ cells in functioning properly. These patients did not change any of their normal activities and did not alter any other aspect of their diets while on this regimen. They merely took these capsules with their regular meals.

Since the trial has not been completed, I do not have specific results yet. The preliminary results are positive. However, some of the anecdotal comments have been amazing.

One patient who has had irritable bowel disease for many years with no relief called me on my cell phone only after 2 weeks into the study to tell me that she has had no stomach issues at all, and that was life-changing for her. For years she had to deal with the discomfort of gut problems, but now she feels like a new woman.

Another patient told me that she thought she had more energy while taking the capsules, but only after completing her 30 days of the trial, she noticed a difference. The positive energy level while on the capsules had dropped significantly after the trial. She said she would purchase the capsules at her health food store so that she could regain that energy level she enjoyed while in the study.

Yet another patient prior to the trial was having foot pain for months that was progressing to the point that it was painful for her to stand in the morning. She was getting ready to make an appointment with her physician to check out what was going on. However, halfway through her trial, she told me that most of her foot pain was gone.

I know that treating gum disease, which I do everyday in my offices, is a complex issue. No food will cure this disease! But, these nutrient-dense foods do provide the body with essential nutrients that it needs to become healthier overall – not just in the mouth. With a comprehensive treatment plan that eliminates the causes of gum disease and supports the body’s ability to heal itself, gum disease can be treated successfully and can be prevented in the future along with improving total body health.

Once my clinical trial is completed, I will publish the results and have a link to the abstract for all to read.



You can stop gum disease

evolution rThis is a mighty big statement that requires an explanation.


First, think about this question: If there were a species whose only means of getting nutrition was by chewing food, and if this species had rampant tooth and gum disease causing the loss of those precious teeth, what would happen to that species over thousands of years of evolution? The answer: This species would die off, because it couldn’t survive over time.
Now consider this fact: Primitive man and woman from Paleolithic and Mesolithic periods did not have gum disease or tooth decay. Why is that?


Let’s step back and consider animals in the wild. They don’t develop dental decay or gum disease or degenerative diseases like modern-day humans, and they don’t get fat like modern-day humans, either. They may lose a tooth in combat, and they do gain weight intentionally to prepare for the cold, winter months or hibernation, but they use this storage naturally and lose it naturally. They eat food in the wild when their bodies tell them they are hungry, and they stop eating when their bodies tell them they are full. But get this: When chimpanzees and other wild animals are raised in captivity, they do have dental problems; they do get fat; and they do develop chronic degenerative diseases if they are not fed their natural diets.


The differences between wild animals and us are that there are no fast foods or sugary drinks or frozen dinners with a gazillion additives and preservatives in the wild. Wild animals don’t eat meat that has been artificially fattened with hormones and antibiotics. And they don’t eat genetically modified foods that have never been tested for long-term effects on their bodies. Wild animals eat what their bodies have been designed to eat for thousands of years. In contrast, we eat what has been processed, refined, hybridized, and genetically modified over the last several decades. Our bodies are rebelling.


Primitive man and woman were hunters and gatherers. They ate the foods that their environments provided for them. They did not eat the processed, refined, hybridized, and genetically modified “foods” we stuff into our bodies every day.


Today, over 95 percent of all gum disease and tooth decay is caused by harmful bacteria in our mouths. And harmful bacteria in our mouths are created by harmful bacteria in our gut. And harmful bacteria in our gut are increased by certain foods we eat—specifically dense carbohydrates and refined sugars—those highly processed, refined, hybridized, and genetically modified “foods” of modern-day lifestyles.


Current medical evidence suggests that many modern-day diseases, including gum disease, may have their root cause from the unhealthy bacteria in our gut. If we can transform the harmful bacteria in our gut into friendly bacteria, then many of our modern-day diseases might be significantly reduced or eliminated altogether. Wow! What a powerful possibility!


What do you think might happen to gum disease if we actually address the nutritional causes of the disease, and then treat it with the most cutting-edge method that is becoming the standard of care in dentistry today?


Here is what you could do: You could make healthier choices with your meals by eliminating the bad foods, specifically grains and grain products, as well as processed foods containing high fructose corn syrup and other refined sugars. In addition, you could include fermented foods like sauerkraut
and yogurt and kefir daily, which may help repopulate the good bacteria in your gut and replace the bad bacteria. Of course, this will take time. It won’t happen in just a few weeks. So be patient.


Along with improving the nutritional balance in your body, the source of major gum problems could be treated with the PerioLase® Laser, which kills the bacteria causing this disease without harming healthy cells and without using a scalpel or sutures. It also helps grow new bone.


Laser treatment results in better outcomes with less discomfort and quicker recovery times than traditional surgical methods. The laser treatment is called LANAP® (Laser Assisted New Attachment Procedure).


So here’s the bottom line. You can stop gum disease by:

  • Making healthier food choices
  • Repopulating the friendly bacteria in your gut by eating a variety of fermented foods
  • Eliminating unhealthy mouth bacteria through the use of evidence-based, patient-friendly treatment
  • Repairing any damage that has already been done in your mouth with necessary dental treatment
  • Maintaining a healthy body through healthy eating and a physically active lifestyle, incorporating effective exercise, proper sleep, and stress reduction.


(This article originally appeared in CH2)


Nutrition is at the Core of Gum Health

Alvin H. Danenberg, DDS o Nutritional Periodontist
April 12, 2014



evolution rPossibly, you may have never had a dentist or even a medical doctor talk with you about nutrition, as I will on our first appointment. Nutrition is at the core of everything your body does for you. From health to sickness, from energy to lethargy, from happiness to depression – the necessary nutrients your cells receive or do not receive affect everything about you. If only one cell in your body is deprived, it slowly affects the rest of you.


By making improvements on a cellular level, you can eventually make improvements in dental and gum health, along with your overall health and well-being. It starts with the decision to change your lifestyle to improve your health.


As a periodontist, I will help you understand how evolutionary nutrition affects your gum health. My goal is to improve your nutrition so that I can effectively treat your gum disease. Today’s cutting-edge technology for the treatment of gum disease is Laser Periodontal Treatment™. The treatment is called LANAP® (Laser Assisted New Attachment Procedure), which does not require cutting with a scalpel or stitches. Patients are getting better clinical results than traditional gum surgery, along with bone growth and practically no discomfort.


By giving your body the nutrition it needs and ridding it of the destructive bacteria causing gum disease, you and I can help create a stable foundation so that you can maintain a healthy mouth for the rest of your life. This stable foundation will become the healthy platform upon which your mouth and smile can be restored.


(This article originally appeared in Hilton Head Monthly Magazine)



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