Dr. Al Danenberg ● Nutritional Periodontist
March 26, 2023 [printfriendly]
If you look up the definition of “catastrophe”, you’ll find a simple explanation: An event causing great and often sudden damage or suffering; a disaster.
Unfortunately, it often takes a catastrophic event to initiate change. For us, it was the rapid spread of the COVID-19 virus. This disease caused many deaths across the world, bringing to light how unprepared we were to handle such a health crisis. Overnight, we all became aware of how fragile our health can be. It was a devastating wake up call to how dysfunctional our immune system is.
Until recently, the last catastrophe was the “Spanish Flu” of 1918-19. It killed about 50,000,000 people. It was the last great global killer until the SARS-Cov-2 Virus and its variants which have caused the current COVID-19 disaster.
This raises the question, “What can we do now to be better prepared for future health crises?”
I’m not just taking about global pandemics. I’m looking at cancers, chronic illnesses, weight management, mental health and all the complications we face on a regular basis.
You can take control of your own health. You can build a robust immune system to improve your ability to fight and heal. Creating healthy habits are the best health insurance you can have.
I’m not saying this will protect you from every single illness or ailment, but if you could take proactive action to reduce the amount of suffering you face, wouldn’t you do it?
The Underlying Poor Health of the US Population
To me, one of the most tragic facts that has allowed this virus to grip humanity in such a devastating way goes back to an alarming statistic identified in this 2019 published peer-reviewed article:
88% of our society is gravely metabolically unhealthy
In the abstract of this paper, the authors clearly state, “Prevalence of metabolic health in American adults is alarmingly low, even in normal weight individuals. The large number of people not achieving optimal levels of risk factors, even in low-risk groups, has serious implications for public health.”
The researchers of this medical article defined a person to be in metabolic health if all these biomarkers were in optimal ranges:
- Waist circumference less than 40 inches in men and less than 35 inches in women
- Blood pressure less than 120 mmHg/80 mmHg
- Plasma glucose less than 100 mg/dL
- Glycated hemoglobin (HbA1c) less than 5.7%
- Triglycerides less than 150 mg/dL
- High-density lipoprotein cholesterol (HDL-C) greater than 40 mg/dL in men and 50mg/dL in women
I’ll go one step further and say that metabolically compromised people are on track to develop chronic, debilitating diseases that rarely have occurred in other primal societies in the past and rarely do occur in existing primal societies today.
And that goes for defending our body from various viruses.
How can I scream this loudly and clearly enough?
I need to shake people enough so that they will sit up and take notice. I want to impress upon every human that we have an immune system that helps protect us from all internal and external invaders to our body. If we don’t keep this powerful tool in excellent shape and ready to fight, then we have lost the battle right from the beginning – or at best, we have compromised our ability to fight and heal.
Here are other alarming statistics that show our society to be very unhealthy:
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) stated that 60% of Americans live with at least one chronic disease, and chronic diseases are responsible for 70% of deaths each year in the United States. And that 70% of all deaths are a result of a chronic disease. In addition, at least 72% of our society is overweight or obese.
In 2010, a published paper demonstrated that 93.9% of adults in the United States had some form of gingivitis or inflammation in the gum tissues. Wow! This is more than epidemic. Yet it is considered “normal” if “normal” means the far majority are expected to exhibit it.
But the fact is that gum inflammation and bleeding represent underlying disease – especially an unhealthy gut and damage to the gut garden of bacteria. Gum inflammation and bleeding are huge factors that suggest that the US population is an unhealthy society.
In another study in 2012, the CDC published its results in the Journal of Dental Research. The report was recently updated in 2015 in the Journal of Periodontology. It showed the prevalence of periodontitis was estimated to be 47.2% for American adults (approximately 64.7 million people). For adults 65 years old and older, the prevalence jumped to 70.1%. These findings were the result of the most comprehensive periodontal evaluation performed ever in the US.
Periodontitis is a form of severe periodontal disease that has entered the jawbone from the gum tissues and is causing destruction of the bone around the teeth and leaking into the systemic blood circulation. Infection and inflammatory chemicals because of periodontal disease also can progress through the nerve canals and between the layers of various tissues of the body. From there, infection and inflammation can travel to all parts of the body creating havoc months, years, and even decades later.
The CDC’s National Center for Health Statistics reported from its most recent data approximately 91% of U.S. adults aged 20–64 had dental caries in permanent teeth. The prevalence increases to 93% for those above 65 years old.
But if you were to examine the skeletal jaw remains from our primal ancestors, you would rarely find signs of tooth decay and periodontal disease. Something has changed the biology in our body, and it has to do with what we put into it and what we avoid putting into it. Diet, lifestyle, and environmental irritants affect our immune system making us more successful or more unsuccessful in fighting diseases of all types.
The World Wakes Up
COVID-19 has caused a worldwide catastrophe. But COVID-19 caused many people throughout the world to realize the importance of their immune system.
Some people have sought out remedies to improve their immune system naturally. Some wanted a “pill” to get healthier. Others are looking for gadgets to make them healthier. But pills and gadgets do not produce a robust immune system.
The ultimate solution to recreate a robust immune system is to feed the body with bioavailable nutrients required to function ideally. Also, a person must eliminate or avoid all irritants and toxic elements that could interfere with their body’s ability to be as strong as possible. And all this may require significant lifestyle changes including our sleep patterns, exercise programs, and efforts to deal with chronic emotional stress – none of which is easy but all of which are important.
Ultra-processed foods have been implicated in the development of severe chronic diseases. In this paper published in 2023, the authors followed 197,426 participants in the United Kingdom who were screened between 2009-2012 and then were followed up until 2021. The results showed that those who ate increasingly higher levels of overly processed foods increased their risk of developing cancer and increased their risk of dying from cancer. Poor food choices decreased their body’s ability to prevent and fight cancer. Their body’s immune system became less functional and more impaired.
I’ve published a Blog titled Get a Handle on Overall Wellness, in which I touched on personal changes you could consider to get well and improve your immune system.
How Do We Begin to Fix the Problem?
The health stats of the US population show that we are an unhealthy society. And the UK study demonstrates that consuming ultra-processed foods increases the prevalence and mortality levels of cancer.
We haven’t been widely educated about how to create a robust immune system. The focus has always been about treating the problem, not preventing future problems, or reducing the severity. I’m not suggesting that a strong and functional immune system will prevent all disease. People with healthy immune systems do and will continue to get sick at times. The immune system assists our body to avoid or fight a disease and to allow healing. In contrast, a dysfunctional immune system may not be able to fight a disease. Those with compromised immune systems will be prone to develop chronic diseases and even death because of the failure of the immune system to do its inherent job.
Change starts with you. Don’t let this wakeup call go unheeded. I’ve been there. I thought I was doing all the right things, then I got my cancer diagnosis. But that wasn’t the end of the road for me. I figured out where the gaps were in my health, and I’ve spent the last 4 years building the most robust immune system I can, while fighting off disease. I’m here to help you. Browse my website for free resources or set up a complimentary 30-minute consultation for tailored guidance. I can help you find and treat your own health gaps before you find yourself experiencing a health crisis.
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