Your Gut. Your Health. Your Choice.®
10 Action Steps

      Alvin H. Danenberg, DDS     Nutritional Periodontist
      September 13, 2016  


 
 
     

Dr. Danenberg LogoI created my slogan, Your Gut. Your Health. Your Choice.®, two years ago. I wrote about its meaning and how the gut microbiome affects autoimmune diseases, specifically periodontal disease.

 

Seniors & Their Gut Microbiome

On my recent search of PubMed, I uncovered new peer-reviewed articles demonstrating the interrelationships of the gut microbiome, the immune system, and aging. HERE. HERE. HERE. HERE. Senior individuals in their 70s and older demonstrated a disrupted and damaged microbiome resulting in a compromised immune system.

 

Science has only scratched the surface with this research. We don’t know what we don’t know.

 

I don’t know what surprises will be revealed in the future, but I continue to be amazed. Although no randomized controlled trials in humans will be done to prove what I have written below, I am going to connect the dots and make assumptions by which I intend to live. While I understand there are normal biological changes as we age, I believe the microbiome of seniors is a result of decades of not supporting and not nourishing a healthy gut microbiome. I don’t believe a damaged microbiome is a result of biological aging. I believe seniors could have an enhanced immune system if they attended to their microbiome earlier in life.

 

The diet of civilized societies throughout the world has contributed to chronic disease. The foods, environment, and lifestyles of a modern, sedentary, and nutritionally deficient way of life have damaged the gut microbiome and have damaged the lining of the gut. Chronic inflammation has emerged from this damage to become the central cause of practically all degenerative diseases.

 

As we age, the compounding affects of a damaged gut eventually manifest as a decline in the quality of life. While it may seem that these degenerative states of poor health are part of the normal aging process, I strongly believe these late-in-life manifestations originated decades earlier from the disruption of the gut microbiome. Advancing gum disease also is related to continued disruption of the gut microbiome.

 

Action Steps

When I speak to groups of lay people as well as health professionals, I start by asking the question, “If you knew a train was coming at you, would you get off the tracks?” The answer to this question will determine the future quality of your life. In essence, the question is, “Will you be proactive?”

 

From everything I can assemble from all the peer-reviewed research I have been able to read, the dots I have connected translate to these 10 proactive action steps:

  1. Eat a nutrient-dense, anti-inflammatory diet.
  2. Avoid processed foods.
  3. Eat organic if possible and only products from wild caught or pastured animals that feed naturally.
  4. Include organ meats and animal products that contain skin, tendons, and other collagenous parts.
  5. Include significant amounts of prebiotic fibers in the form of fruits and vegetables as well as probiotic microbes in the form of various fermented foods.
  6. Avoid exposure to chemicals and medications that could damage the human microbiome.
  7. Encourage getting out into Nature and into “dirt”.
  8. Exercise efficiently, which should include high-intensity interval training, strength training, some aerobic activities, and lots of non-aerobic movement.
  9. Sleep restoratively, which usually means about 8 hours a night.
  10. Learn and practice methods of stress reduction – chronic stress is damaging to the microbiome.

 

I believe these action steps will maintain a healthy gut microbiome as we age. If you could start this way of living immediately and if you could continue it for the rest of your life, you might be able to support a microbiome that will support your quality of life.

 

Be proactive! Implement them ASAP!

 
 

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Supplements? Real Food?
What’s Best for Oral Health?

      Alvin H. Danenberg, DDS     Nutritional Periodontist
      June 20, 2016  


 
 
     
 

SupplementsOur primal ancestors did not take supplements, and they rarely had gum disease or tooth decay. So, if you are eating a healthy diet (a nutrient-dense, anti-inflammatory diet), then what’s up with supplements?:

  • Just hype?
  • Marketing?
  • Overkill?

 

The answers are:

  • Probably
  • Definitely
  • Sometimes

Real Food 

Let me explain.

 

The supplement industry in the US is huge – about $37 billion! Obviously, it is in the best interest of those making a living in the dietary supplement business to sell as much stuff as possible. They do so by getting the word out to you and everybody else who can hear and read their propaganda. Supplements are marketed as the next best thing for longevity, energy, sexual prowess, beauty, restful sleep, and the ultimate elixir for most ills. But, it is true that there is good science behind some of this rhetoric.

 

The science shows that nutrients are critical for overall health as well as oral health. HERE. HERE. HERE. HERE. Also, the science shows that most individuals do not eat healthy foods and are lacking in many ideal levels of some nutrients. HERE. HERE.

 

The obvious solutions would be to eat those foods that are full of these missing nutrients or to take biologically active supplements to supply the body with what it needs. Interestingly, most nutrients are more effective when consumed in synergy with many various nutrients in real foods rather than when consumed individually in man-made supplements. In addition, it would be easy to overdose on supplements, but it would be very difficult to overdose on nutrient-dense foods.

 

So, what’s missing in many people’s diets? Some of the nutrients that are deficient include: Vitamins A, D, K2, C; magnesium; iodine: calcium, and zinc. These are critical for dental health as well as overall health.

 

Here are some healthy food sources to eat that provide these specific and necessary goodies:

 

Vitamin A

  • Liver
  • Egg yolks
  • Cod liver oil

 

Vitamin D

  • Sunshine (that makes Vitamin D in your skin)
  • Cod liver oil
  • Fatty fish like sardines, mackerel, and salmon
  • Shellfish like oysters, clams, shrimp, etc.

 

Vitamin K2

  • Grass fed dairy
  • Poultry liver (especially goose)
  • Natto (fermented soybeans)

 

Vitamin C

  • Citrus fruit
  • Bell peppers
  • Dark leafy greens
  • Broccoli
  • Berries
  • Tomatoes
  • Papaya
  • Brussels sprouts
  • Cantaloupe
  • Kiwi

 

Magnesium

  • Dark leafy greens (e.g., spinach, Swiss chard)
  • Nuts and seeds (especially pumpkin seeds) that are soaked overnight and then dried to eliminate phytates, which prevent the inherent minerals to be absorbed
  • Fish
  • Avocados
  • Yogurt
  • Bananas
  • Dark chocolate
  • Molasses
  • Figs

 

Iodine

  • Seaweed
  • Fish
  • Shellfish
  • Potatoes
  • Cranberries
  • Organic dairy products

 

Calcium

  • Sardines and sockeye salmon (canned with bones)
  • Yogurt
  • Cheese
  • Leafy greens
  • Broccoli
  • Molasses

 

Zinc

  • Seafood such as oysters, scallops, and other shellfish
  • Organ meats such as kidney and liver
  • Red meat such as beef and lamb
  • Pumpkin seeds and other nuts that are soaked overnight and then dried to eliminate phytates, which prevent the inherent minerals to be absorbed

 

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Do All My Patients Follow Paleo?

      Alvin H. Danenberg, DDS     Nutritional Periodontist
      May 26, 2016  


 
 
     
 

paleo dietNo!

 

Only about 5% of my patients are interested in my Paleo diet and lifestyle protocol. But, I keep pressing on.

 

My patients who follow my nutrient-dense diet and lifestyle recommendations usually are self-motivated because of other medical issues. For example, a few have recovered from a serious medical incident, and they have decided to make a change. Others have been diagnosed with a serious medical condition, and they want to get their general health back. Some patients have been following a “healthy way of living” for a while, and now I have shown them an evidence-based method, of which they have never heard, that makes sense to them.

 

Many people, with whom I come into contact, feel that a Paleo-type diet is too restrictive or stringent. My 30-Day Reset Plan is not difficult. It describes all the foods you could eat as much as you wanted and as frequently as you wanted until you were comfortably satisfied. However, it removes foods that most people eat daily and are used to eating even though those foods are inflammatory. After about 3 weeks on this program, cravings (especially for refined carbs and sugars) disappear or become greatly reduced. The overall benefits of an eating lifestyle like this are far reaching – well beyond a healthier mouth. My own personal story is impressive, and I share it with anyone who is interested.

 

While I am passionate in what I believe, it’s impossible for me to motivate anybody. You, as an individual, must motivate yourself based on your personal and innermost beliefs and goals. For example, about 30 years ago, I had a patient who had lung cancer as a result of smoking for decades. He was fortunate. Medicine at that time was able to save his life by removing his diseased lung while retaining his healthy lung. Yet, he still smoked cigarettes! How could I possibly motivate a person like that when the threat of his own mortality was not enough for him to stop smoking?

 

I can tell my patients how I have done what I have done personally. I can call attention to their selfish needs to have a beautiful smile. I can speak to my patients’ intellect by showing them the science-based health facts for embracing a nutrient-dense, anti-inflammatory diet and lifestyle. I can explain how healthy eating can improve their oral health as well as their overall health. I can suggest to my patients that staying on their present course may be like standing on the train tracks of an oncoming train. I can emotionally appeal to their inner selves to want to live long enough to see their children and their children’s children grow into beautiful people. But, I cannot make them do what I think they should do. They must make their own decision to act or not to act.

 

So, to answer the original question, most of my patients do not follow a Paleo-type diet and lifestyle. But, I won’t reduce my efforts or desire to educate my patients if they show an interest in my way of thinking. I have been accused of being a fanatic when it comes to primal nutrition and lifestyle. I stand guilty as charged. My goal is to help self-motivate all patients that are interested in getting onboard a Paleo-type diet and lifestyle. I have written about this over and over again.

 

I am always available to help. Send me an email with your questions.

 

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What Did You Say I Have?

        Alvin H. Danenberg, DDS       November 8, 2015

 

evolution r“What did you say I have? I brush my teeth everyday and floss when I can. Now you say I have gum disease that is eating away at my jawbone! How did this happen to me?”

 

You are not alone!

 

A study published in 2010 demonstrated that 93.9% of adults in the United States had some form of gingivitis, which is inflammation of the gum tissues surrounding the teeth.

 

Another study published in 2012 by The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention stated that 47% of the US adult population has periodontitis (the advanced stage of gum disease that eats away at the jawbone). If you were over 65 years old, the prevalence of this advanced infection jumped to 70%. Wow!

 

Advanced gum disease typically does not hurt. The earlier stage of this disease, which is gingivitis, usually produces bleeding gums. But, if gingivitis progresses to the more advanced stage of periodontitis, the bleeding generally stops as the infection moves deeper under the gums to begin destroying the jawbone.

 

If left untreated, periodontitis will cause teeth to get loose. Teeth will become sore and painful to the touch. Chewing will become uncomfortable. Infection that is around the tooth root could be pushed into the blood system, affecting other areas of the body. These gum infections could also become severe in the mouth resulting in much swelling, bleeding, and odor. Once the structure of the jawbone is significantly destroyed, the only option would be to extract the teeth involved. In addition to mouth problems, gum disease has been associated with many other bodily conditions such as diabetes, pre-term and low-weight babies, heart disease, and many more.

 

There are many causes. The most common is bacteria that get under the gums around the teeth that thrive off of the sugars and refined carbohydrates we eat abundantly everyday. Another cause is the lack of efficient oral hygiene, which includes effective tooth and gum cleaning habits. Additional causes are the health of our digestive system, the nutrients that are in our foods, our stress level, and our genetic predisposition. Frequently, habits like gritting or grinding your teeth, even if you are not aware of this habit, could weaken the jawbone and result in further destruction.

 

You cannot change your genetics, but you can change the quality of foods you eat and your lifestyle, and you can learn to properly clean around your teeth and gums.

 

Those who read my blogs may know that I am a periodontist (gum specialist) with 41 years experience in treating patients with advanced gum disease. I also am licensed in the laser gum treatment called LANAP® (Laser Assisted New Attachment Procedure), which is patient-friendly and involves no cutting with scalpels and no stitches. I have found this to be the best way to treat advanced gum disease. In addition, I am a Certified Functional Medicine Practitioner using this background to guide patients to a healthier diet and lifestyle. Some of my patients decide to complete a 3-Day Food Journal, which allows me to evaluate their eating and lifestyle habits and then to recommend healthier food and lifestyle choices.

 

I offer my patients a Lifestyle Repair Plan, in which I recommend an anti-inflammatory diet, selecting from a host of nutrient-dense foods. These are the foods that have a great deal of nutrients packed into each calorie. My Plan also incorporates changes in lifestyle that are critical for overall health. Included are concepts of health maintenance like Oral Care, Restorative Sleep, Efficient Exercise, and Stress Reduction – concepts that I have summarized into simple and doable steps.

 

My goal for my patients is to treat their active gum infections, teach them methods to maintain a healthy mouth, and assist them with eating and lifestyle changes that could lead not only to a healthier mouth for the rest of their lives but also to a healthier body.