Getting Older Doesn’t Mean Getting Old

      Alvin H. Danenberg, DDS     March 24, 2016  


 
 
     

Getting Older doesn't mean Getting OldGetting older is just a numbers thing. Chronological age is just a way of telling how many years are behind you. Obviously, bodily changes occur with normal aging. Changes occur in our physical and mental abilities. That is part of a healthy process of getting older. We can gracefully get older.

 

In contrast to getting older, getting old is a decline in the quality of life.

 

Many of us may be sick or may get sick with debilitating illnesses. Chronic disease has never been a part of getting older – only getting old. The history of human evolution suggests that developing chronic disease is not part of the normal human life cycle.

 

Our options to deal with the complications of getting old with these illnesses compromise our quality of life. There are in-home nursing care, assisted living facilities, and nursing homes. There are numerous medications we must take, doctor’s appointments we must keep, and life goals we must change. But, all this is not inevitable. If triggers of chronic disease were addressed in a timely fashion, we could prevent or improve this decline in the quality of our life.

 

Even as far back as 1980, James F. Fries, M.D. published a paper in the New England Journal of Medicine that discussed his concept of compression of morbidity. In his article, Dr. Fries explained that chronic disease affects the quality of life. The amount of years that are affected depends on the onset of disease. He suggested that the years of decreased quality of life could be shortened and possibly reduced completely if only we controlled the environmental causes of chronic disease early on.

 

I have written about how we can manage as much as 90% of the causes of chronic disease. That includes the chronic infection of gum disease.

 

Some people have suggested that as we age, we will eventually lose our teeth and require false teeth to replace our natural teeth. That is not true. A healthy mouth reflects a healthy body – a body that has been nourished with both nutrient-dense foods and an effective lifestyle.

 

Here are two photos of a man and a woman. These pictures may be disturbing to some readers because they may look unnatural. However, the photography was done with the lips pulled back to show the teeth and gums for better viewing. Both have healthy mouths; both have healthy bodies:
 
 

Healthy Mouth 76 MaleThis is a 76-year-old man.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Healthy Mouth 83 FemaleThis is an 83-year-old woman.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Getting older is what I strive for; getting old is not in my vocabulary.

 

If you don’t want to miss out on new posts, sign up for my email alert list here.

Our Kids Deserve a Healthy Mouth

evolution rOur kids have tooth decay NOT because they’re deficient in fluoride.
 
Our kids have bleeding gums NOT because they don’t brush and floss twice a day.
 
The primary reasons our kids have tooth decay and gum disease are because their nutrition is deficient; their drinks are acidic and sugary, their healthy gut bacteria are compromised; and their lifestyles are sedentary. These deficiencies also manifest in childhood as obesity, high blood pressure, depression, skin eruptions, allergies, and a host of other diseases. Improper nutrition and lifestyles early in life sow the seeds for many of the degenerative diseases that plague these individuals in their 40s and older.
 
When it comes to the mouth, brushing and flossing are important. But, most importantly:

  • The avoidance of refined carbohydrates, which is part of a Paleo-type diet, prevents the proliferation of unhealthy bacteria and maintains a healthy acid level in the mouth.
  • Essential nutrients and trace minerals from a Paleo-type diet provide a necessary arsenal in the saliva to remineralize teeth, which is a natural 24/7 process.
  • Healthy bacteria in the gut promote healthy bacteria in the saliva allowing normal function in the mouth as well as assisting in the prevention of tooth decay and gum disease.
  • An active lifestyle of playing outside, rather than sitting in front of a TV or playing video games, improves gut health and metabolism.

 
So, what is a Paleo-type diet?
 
A Paleo-type diet is basically the elimination of ALL foods that contain unhealthy fats and oils; food colorings, preservatives, emulsifiers, and other chemicals; added sugars; grains and grain products; and pasteurized dairy products. A nutrient-dense Paleo-type diet consists of pastured meats along with their healthy fats, wild caught fish (especially salmon, sardines, and shellfish), organ meats (like liver), all vegetables – especially leafy greens (either raw or cooked), fruits – especially dark-colored (like all the berries) in moderation, and raw nuts and seeds in moderation.
 
Our kids will eat the way Mom and Dad eat. Kids learn by example. Healthy snacks could include fresh fruit and nuts, almond butter spread on celery sticks, slices of raw cheeses, liver pâté on slices of cucumber, and cut up pieces of colorful sweet peppers. Healthy drinks could include filtered water, unsweetened seltzers, teas without sugar (some local raw honey might be OK), and kombucha (a naturally carbonated tea fermented from healthy bacteria). If they are eating healthy in the home, and if they are given healthy meals and snacks for lunches at school, then whatever minimal cheating they do is not so bad.
 
I have some of My Favorite Paleo Recipes in my blogs. Also, there are many cookbooks on Amazon describing easy-to-prepare Paleo recipes for on-the-go lifestyles.
 
Dental visits should be pleasant. Your children shouldn’t have to be concerned about tooth decay or gum disease if they are providing the nutrients their bodies need to thrive. Kids should clean their mouths appropriately, but they must eat nutritiously. Their mouths will thank them, and their overall health will thank them.

Have Respect for What is Right

evolution rWhen you think about things changing over time, you might compare how things are today related to a time in the past. For example, a gallon of gasoline today costs about $3.35, but a gallon of gas when I started driving in Baltimore in the mid 1960s cost $0.23 a gallon. Styles of clothing have changed decade after decade. Food preparation certainly has changed from when our grandparents were cooking compared to how we cook today. Everything is relative. Some things are better today; some things were better in times gone by.

 

Old is also relative. After my wife and I moved to Charleston over 40 years ago, we were impressed with the city’s history and homes that dated back several hundred years. I thought that was old. Years after moving to Charleston, my wife and I traveled to Israel. We were shown and told about buildings that were built several thousand years ago. We thought that was really old. Sometimes old is good; sometimes old is not so good. But several thousand years is not that old.

 

Really old is when you go back 2.5 million years and look at our evolution. 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. We need to respect what our bodies need.

 

Degenerative diseases today can be traced back to the insults from certain foods that we began to eat about 10,000 years ago and which our guts were never designed to digest completely. Also, toxins we ingest as well as toxins we create internally are related to these degenerative diseases.

 

We need to understand what was right about the diet and lifestyle of our primal ancestors. We shouldn’t condemn modern life; we should make progress where progress leads to betterment. Change usually is for the good. Yet, we never should lose sight of what our bodies essentially require. Nutrient-dense foods are always going to be the right things for us. That will never change!

 

So what are nutrient-dense foods? These are foods that have an abundance of the things we need with little or none of the things we don’t need. Specifically these are:

 

• Free range and grass fed animal products from nose to tail including all their wonderful fat and organs
• Wild caught seafood
• All kinds and colors of vegetables including seaweeds
• Fermented foods
• Most fruits with an emphasis on the deeply colored varieties
• Some nuts and seeds in moderation

 

Don’t get confused with all the processed products on the grocery shelves that have been filled with chemicals and artificial ingredients that can only harm our individual cells. Always keep in mind that you want to eat what is natural – not what has been transformed and processed into cutely packaged goodies. Amazingly, your overall health is at stake here, and your mouth will be the healthy recipient.