Born to Reproduce;
Evolved to be Fantastic

Alvin H. Danenberg, DDS Nutritional Periodontist
January 16, 2017 [printfriendly]



Many species of the plant and animal kingdoms have one predominant purpose. They were born to reproduce. From there, life’s fundamental purpose was essentially completed. But, as humans, we not only were born to reproduce; we evolved to be fantastic.


Some plants grow; flower; go to seed; and die. Also, some animals mature; reproduce; and then die. Here are some examples:


An annual plant is one that completes its life cycle in a single season. Many annual plants produce gorgeous flowers, then go to seed and die. All grain crops and most domestic vegetables are annual plants. Some long-lived annuals include agave and some species of bamboo.


A classic example of an animal that dies after it reproduces is the Pacific salmon. It lives for many years in the ocean before swimming to the freshwater stream of its birth, spawning, and then dying. Other animals that die after they reproduce include some species of butterflies, cicadas, mayflies, spiders, squid, and octopus.



Humans are unique. We have developed beyond just the biological need to reproduce. We evolved the abilities to be creative, productive, intelligent, resourceful, athletic, compassionate, and spiritual.


“Fantastic” didn’t come about automatically. Humans evolved through genetic mutation and natural selection. Certain things needed to happen before “fantastic” became a possibility. These changes took tens of thousands of years.


Mutations & Natural Selection

Genetic mutation is a permanent alteration in the DNA sequence that makes up a gene. Genes make up our blueprint of life. Genetic mutations create various qualities for life, some good and some not so good. The better mutations are favored by natural selection.


Natural selection is the process that favors a species because it has become better adapted to its environment because of its positive genetic mutations. Members of a species with inferior genetic mutations would not be able to compete with those members who possessed more positive genes. Natural selection would favor the strong members of the species. It would allow them to survive and reproduce offspring who would inherit those stronger genes. The weaker members of the species would die off (or be deselected) because of their weaker genes.


Human Evolution

Our species evolved over 2.5 million years through the process of mutation and natural selection. However, modern humans (homo sapiens) only began to evolve about 160,000 years ago in East Africa, according to Stephen Oppenheimer. About 120,000 years ago some of these humans moved into North Africa and then crossed into the area of present-day Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, and Israel.


These primal humans had to endure unbelievable hardships and disasters, literally wiping out most of them. About 85,000 years ago, there were only 2,000 to 5,000 African humans remaining. Of those, only 150 of them managed to cross the Red Sea to begin the migration eastward along the southern coast of the Arabian Peninsula toward India and Southeast Asia. They followed the coastline and ate from the abundant marine life. From there, Homo sapiens had to deal with climate changes and various disasters. Many descendants of these people grew in number, and then their populations dwindled. This process repeated itself many times. Eventually, humans migrated to all parts of the world.


Many anthropologists believe the descendants of these 150 humans ultimately populated the rest of the world. About 25,000 years ago, ancestors of the Native Americans migrated from Alaska into North America.


Here is a fascinating visual of the migration of humankind.


Human Brain

As these 150 humans began their migration about 85,000 years ago eating foods from the sea, their bodies absorbed these unique foods. The rich nutrients in seafood significantly increased the size of their brains. Humans began to develop the qualities of being “fantastic”. The environment provided the nutrients and stimuli to develop a brain with a capacity that far exceeded the basic biological requirements of living and reproducing. The human brain evolved into the control center for “fantastic” to happen.


Our ancestors didn’t know that seafood was better for them. They didn’t stop to think that eating fish would make their brains grow bigger and smarter. They ate fish and other marine life because this food was easier to catch and gather than it was to hunt down large game.


Dr. Michael A Crawford, in his paper published in 2012, explained how fish and its critical nutrients of DHA and trace minerals were essential for the extraordinary development of the human brain. No other land-based food sources – neither animals nor plants – could have provided these crucial elements for the evolution of our fantastic brains.


Keep “Fantastic” Going

To keep the ball rolling, so to speak, a nutrient-dense diet is the healthiest way to feed and nourish all the cells of our body. Salmon, sardines, shellfish, and seaweeds are replete with these nutrients that make us thrive. And, as our cells get nourished well, our mouths become healthier.



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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.


What Would Happen If….?

evolution rImagine an animal in the wild – a cute, cuddly little thing. And let’s say this animal was living 200,000 years ago. In order for this animal to survive and thrive, it needed to chew its food to get the necessary nutrients into its body. As this animal was growing up, something was happening. Its teeth began to decay, and its gums started to bleed. Soon, this fury guy started to have pain when he chewed his food, and eventually his teeth started to get loose. Then his teeth began to rot and fall out. And this was happening not only to him but also to most of his brothers and sisters and their offspring. What do you think would happen over time to this animal species?

The answer is that this species would eventually die off because it could not survive without its teeth to chew the food to get the nutrients that were critical for life.

As a matter of fact, primal man and woman hardly ever had tooth decay or gum disease during the 2.5 million years of evolution. Our evolutionary ancestors ate a nutrient-dense diet and had healthy gut bacteria that allowed their teeth to stay healthy. Then things changed about 10,000 years ago.

As grains become a staple part of our diets, our overall health declined. Today, the Standard American Diet consists of refined carbohydrates, unhealthy fats, lots of sugar, and a variety of processed foods. However, not everybody eats this way.

There are people living today in isolated parts of the world as hunter-gatherers. They eat the food that their natural environments provide. They never have been exposed to the Standard American Diet, and they do not have tooth decay or various degenerative diseases that plague most of the world’s modern population. Unfortunately, when some of these people leave their native surroundings and start eating unhealthy diets in the “Western” world, their health begins to decline rapidly.

The solutions are learning and believing what nutrient-dense food and healthy gut bacteria are all about as well as yielding to the needs of our individual cells.


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 [printfriendly]



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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