… The Real Diet …
the “Next Best Thing”

Alvin H. Danenberg, DDS Nutritional Periodontist
February 26, 2018 [printfriendly]




The Real Diet - the "Next Best Thing"


Fads come and go – especially dieting fads. It’s always the “next best thing” that replaces the previous “next best thing”. These diets seem to work to some extent until they don’t. Or, the fad diet you’re on makes you sick. What do you do? Move onto the “next best thing”?


Some of these diets are based on facts. Most of them are based on hype and anecdotal justifications. When a celebrity endorses a new fad diet, the masses rush in to become a part of the “next best thing”.


This style of dieting sets you up for one experiment after another. The Real Diet, which I’ll discuss near the end of this article, should complement your body’s requirements to survive and thrive. It should be a lifestyle diet and not a “next best thing” diet.



Timeline of Diets

Rene Lynch wrote an excellent article, which sets up a timeline of major diet crazes.[1] There are many diets that have gone in and out of favor over the decades. I’ve summarized some of the earliest ones as well as some of the more bizarre ones below:


1830: One of the first “diet crazes” was created by Reverend Sylvester Graham. He emphasized a high-fiber diet based on whole grain breads. His work inspired the manufacturing of graham flour and graham crackers.


1863: William Banting was an Englishman who was obese. To improve his own health and lose weight, he developed a low-carb diet and wrote about it in “Letter on Corpulence”. He was the first to popularize a weight-loss program based on limiting carbohydrates, especially starchy and sugary foods.


1925: Of all things, there was The Cigarette Diet.  Lucky Strike, a brand of cigarette, created an advertising campaign with the slogan, Reach for a Lucky instead of a sweet”.


1928: The Inuit Diet became popular with the publication of “Studies on the Metabolism of Eskimos” by Peter Heinsbecker. His book emphasized eating meat, raw fish, and whale blubber.


1930: The Grapefruit Diet was a 12-day crash diet. It required eating a grapefruit or drinking grapefruit juice at each meal.


1934: The Banana and Milk Diet was created by a medical doctor at Johns Hopkins University for his patients with diabetes. The diet consisted of eating four to six bananas and drinking three to four glasses of milk every day for two weeks. Then, for the next two weeks, patients would eat only meat, fish, eggs and vegetables, avoiding other fats or carbohydrates.


1950: The Cabbage Soup Diet is still popular today. It’s a 7-day diet that consists mainly of fat free cabbage soup, eaten two to three times a day. Other specific foods are allowed as the diet progresses over the course of 7 days.


1962: The Drinking Man’s Diet was published by Robert Cameron. He suggested dieters should count carbs and not calories. He stated that his diet, “… would let you have two martinis before lunch, and a thick steak generously spread with Sauce Béarnaise, so that you could make your sale in a relaxed atmosphere and go back to the office without worrying about having gained so much as an ounce.”


1975: The Cookie Diet was the baby of Dr. Sanford Siegal, a physician who specialized in treating overweight patients. He created a low-calorie cookie made with his secret “hunger-controlling” formula. These cookies were touted to keep appetite down and calorie-count low. There was a scheduled plan for eating Dr. Siegal’s cookies during the day along with a low-calorie meal for dinner.


1976: The Sleeping Beauty Diet suggested that being sedated is necessary to help people lose weight. It recommended taking sedatives when hungry to avoid eating too much. In essence, a person would sleep instead of eating.


1981: Judy Mazel created The Beverly Hills Diet to help her lose weight. It was based on the actions of enzymes on various foods as they were being digested. The diet detailed when specific foods could be eaten and in what combinations they should be eaten.



The Real Diet

Enter The Real Diet.


It’s not a fad at all; it’s a lifestyle. It’s my “slogan” for what humans have been eating over the course of evolution – different foods based on different locations throughout the world.


For the last 200,000 years or so, modern humans – our primal ancestors – have learned to survive and thrive on the foods that were endemic to the areas of the world where these people lived. The DNA of our ancestors slowly evolved to become the blueprint, which guides our lives today. Our gut microbiome, which is continuously evolving more rapidly than our human cells, plays one of the most important roles in our overall health.[2] Our human cells and our gut microbiome require specific foods to provide the nutrients for us to survive and thrive, just as was true for our primal ancestors.


There is enormous variation in the foods that can provide our body with everything it needs. However, over-processed foods, ingested chemicals and medicines, and an overly-antiseptic lifestyle have caused our cells and our microbiome to malfunction.


Fad diets are not the answer. The “next best thing” should be The Real Diet. We need to return to a nutrient-dense, anti-inflammatory way of eating supported by a lifestyle embedded with efficient exercise, restorative sleep, and reduction in all forms of stresses on the body.



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Does Gum Disease Cause CVD?

Alvin H. Danenberg, DDS Nutritional Periodontist
May 15, 2017 [printfriendly]



Does Gum Disease Cause CVD?Does gum disease cause CVD (cardio vascular disease)? This is a critical question. It needs to be answered, if possible. I will offer my opinion shortly. But first…


3 Peer-Reviewed Papers

The prestigious journal Circulation published an article in 2012 titled, Periodontal disease and atherosclerotic vascular disease (ASVD): Does the evidence support an independent association?


The conclusion of this important paper stated that there is an association between periodontal disease and CVD (cardiovascular disease). However, the authors could not find a causal relationship. In other words, there was no evidence that the treatment of periodontal disease would prevent ASVD. The authors went further to suggest that there could be unknown factors that might be causing both chronic diseases.


The Postgraduate Medical Journal published an article in April 2017 titled, High-risk periodontal pathogens contribute to the pathogenesis of atherosclerosis.


The authors of the article stated that periodontal disease, due to its high-risk pathogens, is a contributory cause of atherosclerosis.


On May 4, 2017, the International Journal of Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease published an article titled, Is periodontitis a comorbidity of COPD or can associations be explained by shared risk factors/behaviors?


These authors suggested that periodontal disease and COPD most likely share common causes. The authors proposed that these common causes also might be those related to other chronic diseases like CVD.


A Vicious Cycle

My research suggests that a common source of chronic diseases of the human body could begin with the gut. Unhealthy bacteria could overgrow in the gut because of various insults – damaging food choices, lack of necessary nutrients, toxic and irritating substances. The bad bacteria and irritating substances in the gut could cause leakage in the intestinal lining that could allow bad things to seep into the blood system. Our immune system would then become activated like an army fighting an invader. The result would be chronic inflammation. Chronic inflammation could travel to all the organ systems in the body. Chronic inflammation could affect all vascular walls as well as the tissues surrounding the teeth in the jaw. This chronic inflammation could be the initial cause of CVD and periodontitis.


The bacteria in the gum pocket could become unbalanced and pathogenic, especially if they were fed by poor food choices. Importantly, once periodontal infection was to take hold, it would become another continuous source of further damage and infection leaking into the circulatory system.


The vicious cycle would involve the infected and damaged gut being a source of further chronic disease, and the infected and damaged gum spaces around teeth being another source of further chronic disease. Bad food choices would continue to feed an unhealthy gut and infected gum pockets.


My Opinion

Ultimate prevention for CVD would require treatment and repair of the gut as well as treatment and repair of the infected gum pockets. Only treating one or the other will not prevent CVD.


A functional medicine practitioner should evaluate the gut to determine if there is damage and treat it. A dentist should determine if there is active gum disease and treat it. If there is other chronic infection in the body, the source must be treated. A medical doctor must evaluate for various chronic diseases and integrate therapy with the functional physician and dentist to treat them. The goal must be to reestablish a healthy gut and healthy gum tissues. In addition, and probably most important of all, the patient must begin a diet and lifestyle that includes nutrient-dense, anti-inflammatory foods that support a healthy gut and healthy gum tissues moving forward.



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Mouth Bacteria Must Be Fed

Alvin H. Danenberg, DDS Nutritional Periodontist
February 7, 2017 [printfriendly]




Mouth Bacteria Must Be FedDon’t kill the bacteria in your mouth. Instead, feed them. Yes, mouth bacteria must be fed in ways that keep them healthy. Balanced, healthy bacteria are your friends – not your enemies.


I wrote an article about antibacterial mouthwashes and how they were harmful to the health of your mouth. Actually, antibacterial mouthwashes may increase the level of gum disease. That was a surprise to most people.


In this article, I want to look at the mouth bacteria from a different perspective. How can you improve the existing garden of bacteria in your mouth so that they maintain your dental health?


New knowledge is unfolding. It appears that the answer starts with healthy dental plaque. In fact, balanced dental plaque is important for the health of the gum tissue and the health of the tooth surface. When mouth bacteria are in healthy balance, they are said to be in a state of homeostasis. In this article, I discussed the different forms of dental plaque – the good, the bad, and the ugly.


The chemistry of healthy dental plaque

To keep dental plaque in a healthy state, a relatively new study suggests a necessary chemistry that must be maintained. While this research is in an early stage, the chemistry appears like this:


Some mouth bacteria in healthy dental plaque produce hydrogen peroxide that keeps bad bacteria under control. As long as this process continues, dental plaque functions as a healthy film around the gum margin hugging the tooth. But, events can change.


One change could be the level of peroxide might decrease or be neutralized. If there was chronic inflammation that entered the area, the elements of inflammation could neutralize the peroxide, which in turn would cause bad bacteria to overgrow. Another change might be if levels of healthy bacteria were reduced.


So, the solution for healthy bacteria may come down to two important factors:

  • Good mouth bacteria must continue to grow and produce healthy peroxide levels in dental plaque, preventing bad bacteria from overgrowing.
  • The immune system must be supported to prevent chronic inflammation that could damage healthy dental plaque.


Feed the good bacteria

Healthy bacteria are screaming, “Feed me!” They need nourishment just as our 10 trillion human cells need nourishment. Modern humans have evolved over the course of 160,000 years or so. Our genetic code has become quite efficient in running the machine we call our human body. The natural food supply, physical movement, restful sleep, and avoidance of stressors on the body have contributed to our well-being.


Our microbiome, which is estimated to be as many as 100 trillion cells, must be fed. They are critical for our overall health, and their food source is primarily in the form of prebiotics.


Prebiotics are nondigestible nutrients that promote the growth of beneficial microorganisms. Some of the best natural food sources of prebiotics, which have been shown to improve the health of gut bacteria, include:

  • Jicama
  • Jerusalem artichoke
  • Chicory root
  • Dandelion greens
  • Allium vegetables such as garlic, onion, leeks, chives, and scallions
  • Avocado
  • Seaweeds
  • Raw cacao


Recent research suggests that prebiotics might increase the growth of healthy bacteria in dental plaque. However, studies need to be performed that identify specific prebiotic foods that will enhance healthy bacteria in dental plaque.


Avoid chronic inflammation

If there was an irritant that was causing inflammation, it would need to be removed. A perfect example is dental tartar between the gum tissues and the tooth. Tartar actually acts like a splinter in the skin of your finger. If you wanted the skin of your finger to heal, you must first remove the irritant or the splinter. If dental tartar was irritating and causing inflammation in and under the gum tissues, dental tartar would need to be removed.


The next step might be to repair the damaged tissues of the gum and the tooth. Also, repairing and restoring the immune system would be critical to reduce and eliminate states of chronic inflammation. To get to that goal, nutrient-dense, anti-inflammatory foods need to be part of the picture.


Real food gets real results

Two examples of significant periodontal benefits from nutrient-dense, anti-inflammatory foods were published by Dr. Baumgartner in 2009 and Dr. Woelber in 2016. Both studies showed that unprocessed foods would decrease harmful bacteria in the mouth and decrease specific signs of gum disease. The choices of food in these studies fed the good bacteria that supported dental health.



Bacteria are not your enemies if you keep them in balance. To keep them balanced, feed them properly and avoid chronic inflammation.



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Hormones & Swollen Gums

Alvin H. Danenberg, DDS Nutritional Periodontist
September 19, 2016 [printfriendly]


Chelsea and Brenda don’t know each other. Both are patients of mine. Chelsea is 27 and pregnant with her first child. Brenda is 54 and postmenopausal. Both have swollen, bleeding, and sore gums. Both want to know what’s wrong.



Pregnancy, Menopause, & Gum Tissues

Hormones are the ultimate messengers of the body. Their task is to communicate with every cell. In pregnancy and in menopause, sex hormones affect the gum tissues in different ways. HERE. HERE. HERE.


During pregnancy, the fluctuations in estrogen and progesterone may cause the gum tissues to become more inflamed. However, this inflammation is significantly increased in the presence of dental plaque. The end result is more swollen and sore gums with increased bleeding.


During menopause, a decrease in estrogen may cause the gum tissues to become thinner and the amount of saliva in the mouth to decrease. These make the gum tissues more susceptible to dental plaque. The result is more swollen and sore gums with increased bleeding.


Do you see a common thread? It’s dental plaque. Rising estrogen levels and falling estrogen levels create different changes in the gum tissues. However, these various changes in the gums make them more susceptible to dental plaque with increased swelling, soreness, and bleeding.




First, a statement of caution: Some menopausal women have considered hormonal replacement therapy to treat their ongoing symptoms. However, there are potentially significant risks associated with this treatment. In addition, bioidentical hormone replacement therapy has never been tested for long-term safety and effectiveness. HERE. HERE.


A more natural solution is multifold – improve oral hygiene, enhance the immune system, and reduce the soreness. Here is a perfect cocktail for those who are pregnant or have reached menopause:

  • Eat a diet that is high in nutrient-dense foods and anti-inflammatory foods. This will enhance the immune system. HERE.
  • Improve your ability to clean your mouth effectively. HERE.
  • Schedule more frequent appointments to have your teeth cleaned by your favorite dental hygienist depending on your needs. The frequency depends on the overall health of your gum tissues. Dental cleaning appointments may be necessary as often as every 1-2 months. HERE.
  • If the gum tissues have become sore, there are various prescription medications to reduce inflammation and soreness. However, there is a natural remedy that has been researched. You may want to give it a try. It is local raw honey. This honey has never been processed, heated, or filtered. Natural raw honey has been shown to reduce inflammation and enhance healing of mucosal tissues. HERE. HERE. HERE. Honey also has been shown to reduce various symptoms of menopause. HERE. Eat local raw honey several times a day by swishing it to coat the sore gums and then swallowing it.



Chelsea’s and Brenda’s Results

I explained to Chelsea and Brenda how their hormonal changes were affecting their gums. They needed to take care of their mouths daily. I gave them recommendations for nutrient-dense foods and anti-inflammatory foods. I also gave them some sources where they could purchase local raw honey.


They took my advice and improved their gum tissues. They now have happy gums.



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We All Wear Shoes:
But Not The Same Size

      Alvin H. Danenberg, DDS     February 29, 2016   [printfriendly]

We all wear shoesIt may sound like I am going off the deep end again. Not really. This is a metaphor.


We all live in homes, but not the same ones. We all talk, but not with the same voice. We all eat, but not the same food.


Even if we all were to eat a Paleo-type diet, it would not be, and it should not be, the same for everyone. One size does not fit all.


The facts are that nutrient-dense, anti-inflammatory foods are the healthiest foods for our individual cells to function, as they should. Eating these foods is also the major means to prevent tooth decay, gum disease, and other chronic diseases. A Paleo-type diet is a nutrient-dense, anti-inflammatory diet, but there is a huge variety of foods that can be eaten.


Some “experts” say that you must eat a low-carb, high-fat Paleo diet. That may be good for some.


Other “experts” say that you can never have milk products. That may be good for most.


Still, other “experts” say that you can never have beans if you say you are on a Paleo-type type. That also may be true for most.


However, there is no specific way that you must eat to be on a Paleo-type diet. The natural foods that are available in the immediate environment and prepared properly are the foods that become part of a Paleo-type diet.


Primal societies around the world, who have never experienced chronic diseases or tooth decay or gum disease, eat differently. They still eat a Paleo-type diet.


But, here is where diversity ends: No healthy primal societies today (or over millennia) eat (or have eaten) processed grains, processed sugars, processed seed oils, or pasteurized and homogenized milk products. No healthy primal societies today (or over millennia) have allowed their food supply to be tainted with antibiotics, hormones, preservatives, genetically modified organisms and foods, insecticides, and other toxic chemicals and heavy metals.


Put nutrient-dense foods into your body, and remove or avoid anything that is toxic to your body, and you will be eating a Paleo-type diet. There is no one size to fit all.


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Battling Swollen Gums with Super Foods

        Alvin H. Danenberg, DDS       December 9, 2015


Super Foods
Can you battle swollen gums with super foods? Have you even thought about it? Here’s my professional opinion based on science and 41 years of experience treating gum disease.


Swollen gums are frequently a result of some irritant (like dental plaque or tartar) in and around the gum tissue. These irritants need to be removed. But is that all there is?


No! More importantly, swollen gums are a result of (1) eating an abundance of bad stuff like processed foods, unhealthy fats, and refined sugars and (2) not eating necessary nutrients.


Here is a paper that suggests some of the science behind this. It was published in 2009, and the results surprised the investigators.


Before the experiment began, the mouths of 10 participants were examined for various signs of gum disease. These individuals then were placed in a primal environment in Switzerland where they had to gather and fish for their own food for 30 days. To start, they only were given some basic, raw foods. They had no processed foods, no unhealthy fats, and no refined sugars to eat. In addition, during the 30-day experiment, these individuals were not allowed to brush or floss their teeth.


At the end of this experiment, their mouths were reexamined for existing gum infection. The investigators were amazed with the results:

  • The amount of bacteria around the gum margins was significantly increased.
  • The infectious-types of bacteria actually decreased.
  • The participants had healthier gum tissues than they had before the 30-day experiment.


Even though those in the study could not brush or floss for 30 days, they all had less gum infection after the experiment. How could that be?


The answers lie in the healthy changes in the gut and the mouth as a result of the primal foods these 10 people ate for 30 days. These foods were Super Foods .


My interpretation of super foods is straightforward. I am all about (1) eating what makes our individual cells and overall bodies healthy and (2) removing whatever makes our bodies unhealthy. Our mouths are the happy recipients of this healthy lifestyle.


We have 10 trillion human cells that make us who we are, but we have 100 trillion bacterial cells that live within us! Each human and bacterial cell needs its nourishment. Each cell affects every other cell in some way. Therefore, I view super foods as those that are nutrient-dense and anti-inflammatory for each cell.


If you took care of your car’s engine, your car would run more smoothly; if you took care of your body’s engine, your body would be healthier. Give your body what it needs, and your mouth will benefit also.


So what are the super foods?

These are the foods with high levels of nutrients per calorie of food. These are the foods that are grown with no chemical additives that could leach into the food and damage the powerful nutrients contained within. These are the foods that have NOT been genetically altered to create something that our body cannot recognize or use effectively. These foods give you the greatest bang for your buck.


Super foods are the pastured and wild caught animals including their organs and healthy fats. Super foods are the organically grown fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds. Super foods are NOT the processed foods, unhealthy fats (like commercially prepared vegetable oils or man-made trans fats), or refined sugar products that are abundantly available in the average grocery store. Super foods are those that make up a Paleo lifestyle.


My recommendation: Consume a Paleo Diet, and you will consume super foods. These foods are the nutrient-dense, anti-inflammatory nourishment that will help keep you healthy and help keep you from having swollen gums and gum disease. Super foods will battle swollen gums.


8 Truths I’ve Learned After My Paleo Transition

        Alvin H. Danenberg, DDS       December 4, 2015


Healthy Lifestyle ElementsFor the first 66 years of my life, I was not a healthy guy. You can read my story here. However, for the last 3 years or so, I have become a new person, and I have incorporated my newfound knowledge and lifestyle in the way I educate my patients. Here are 8 truths I have learned after my Paleo transition. They’re listed in no special order; they’re just my thoughts:


  1. Too much conflicting information from respected medical institutions about health and diet has made the average Mary and Joe spin in circles. A Paleolithic-type diet has been around for 2.5 million years of our species’ evolution, and it has well served humankind throughout the world. It’s not a fad; it’s the way it was meant to be.
  2. Chronic emotional stress is difficult to control. The damage to the healthy gut bacteria and the immune system plays havoc on the entire body including the gum tissues in the mouth. One of the pillars of health is control of stress. There is no pill you can take to make stress go away.
  3. When I am evaluating a patient in my periodontal practice, there is no way I can do a thorough mouth examination that includes a discussion about their gut and immune system in less than an hour. The 10-15 minute exams that many of my contemporaries perform for their patients are inadequate and a disservice to the patient, in my opinion.
  4. Nutrient-dense, anti-inflammatory foods that are the basis of a Paleo diet provide the body with essential nourishment for every cell to survive and thrive. These foods make up another of the pillars of health.
  5. Although genetics play a role in gum disease and many chronic diseases, an individual’s diet and lifestyle are more important than his or her genes.
  6. A third great pillar of health is restorative sleep. The human body is based on a circadian rhythm and generally requires about 8 hours of sleep each night.
  7. The Standard American Diet (consisting of unhealthy fats, refined sugars, conventionally raised animal products, processed grains, and a host of chemicals) is a major culprit for today’s chronic disease epidemic. Period!
  8. The fourth pillar of health is an efficient exercise program. That does not mean over-exercising aerobically an hour a day, 5 days a week.


I am still learning. At almost 69 years of age, this is exciting for me. I have transformed my life and my health through the knowledge of evolutionary lifestyle. If only I knew then what I know now!!!


I will leave you with this one question: If you knew a train was coming at you, would you get off the tracks?