Dr. Al Danenberg ● Nutritional Periodontist
November 11, 2019
In my Blog that I posted on 11/5/19, I described how dental disease starts in the gut. I suggested that readers email me for my detailed Protocols to eat a healthy diet, to restore healthy gut bacteria, and to clean your mouth efficiently. I am providing those Protocols as my way of “giving back” and “paying it forward”.
In this article, I help you understand exactly what you and your family are eating and how to make healthier choices as necessary.
Then & Now
Our primal ancestors rarely had dental diseases. In fact, primal societies living today in various parts of the world rarely have dental diseases and rarely have chronic systemic diseases. So, what changed for us in this modern world?
Processed foods increasingly have replaced real, organic foods. We eat foods made from processed sugars and processed grains at almost every meal. We also frequently drink beverages like soft drinks and sports drinks, which are extremely sweet and acidic. Sugars, grains, acidic drinks, and the chemicals that have been added to these foods have changed the biology of our mouth and our gut. These “foods” have encouraged pathogenic bacteria in the gut and in the mouth to overgrow and cause tooth decay, gum disease, and various chronic diseases.
Unhealthy Food choices
- Free-sugars are sugars that are added to foods plus sugars that are concentrated in the form of processed honey, syrups, and fruit juices. These allow unhealthy bacteria to grow in the gut as well as the mouth. Pathogenic bacteria can produce acid levels below pH 5.5 around the tooth surface, causing tooth decay and gum disease.,
- Grain products have compounds (called phytates) that bind to nutrients in the saliva and on the tooth surface thereby increasing the potential for tooth decay., They also contain lectins and other proteins that can cause an increase in pathogenic bacteria in the gut, irritation to the gut lining, and chronic inflammation throughout the body. All these changes can compromise the body’s immune system and the health of the mouth.
- Sodas are very acidic – well below a pH of 5.5 – and also feed decay-producing bacteria with free-sugars. Sugar-free sodas do not have added sugars but do contain artificial sweeteners, which can irritate the gut and create unhealthy types of bacteria. Be aware that many “healthy drinks” include added sugars or artificial sweeteners and would be just as unhealthy or acidic as traditional sodas.
Healthy Food Choices
Specific nutrients present in foods support a healthy mouth as well as a healthy body. Examples are:
- Omega-3 fatty acids (ex. healthy fish like salmon, herring, sardines, anchovies, shellfish)
- Vitamin C (ex. citrus, dark leafy greens, bell peppers, broccoli)
- Vitamin D (ex. cod liver oil, herring, rainbow trout, pastured eggs, wild caught sockeye salmon, shiitake mushrooms)
- Vitamin A (ex. liver, cod liver oil, king mackerel, salmon)
- Vitamin K2 (ex. natto, raw cheese, butter from grass-fed cows, egg yolks, dark chicken meat)
- Antioxidants (ex. dark chocolate, berries)
- Fiber (ex. fruits, vegetables)
- Magnesium (ex. dark chocolate, avocados, nuts, seeds)
Organic is Important
Ideally, foods should be organic. For a product to be certified organic, it’s required to meet these requirements:
- Organic crops cannot be grown with synthetic fertilizers, synthetic pesticides or sewage sludge.
- Organic crops cannot be genetically engineered or irradiated.
- Animals must eat only organically grown feed (without animal byproducts) and can’t be treated with synthetic hormones or antibiotics.
- Animals must have access to the outdoors, and ruminants (hoofed animals, including cows) must have access to pasture.
- Animals cannot be cloned.
Organic is important for three main reasons:
- Non-organic foods contain residues of pesticides, herbicides, and other chemicals, and you eat them. These toxic substances could cause unhealthy changes in your gut and your immune system, which ultimately would affect your mouth.
- When a plant is not exposed to bugs and stressors in its environment, the plant’s internal immune system will have no reason to strengthen. The result is that the plant is rendered weaker. The immune system of the plant (phytonutrients) is what makes the plant a healthy food source for us. So, plants that are exposed to chemicals to ward off bugs and other environmental stressors will be less nutritious than plants that are grown organically.
- When animals eat plants that are tainted with chemicals, the toxic elements in the plants are incorporated in the animals’ tissues. When we eat animal products that have eaten these toxic-laden plants, we eat those toxic elements that have been concentrated in the animals’ meat, fat, and other tissues.
3-Day Food Journal
Removing unhealthy food choices and substituting healthier foods can reduce current dental disease and prevent future dental decay and gum disease. So, to help YOU learn what you and your family are eating, I suggest that each member of your family complete a 3-Day Food Journal. In this simple daily journal, you and each of your family members will be able to see exactly what you are eating and what you are not eating. Then, you could make decisions to replace unhealthy food choices with healthier ones as well as add foods that you should be eating but presently are not.
If you would like, I will send you a PDF of my 3-Day Food Journal with instructions including how to fill it out, how to decipher it, and a table of recommendations to replace unhealthy choices with healthier selections. Email your request to me: DrDanenberg@iCloud.com