Dental Plaque Is Healthy
Until It’s Not

Alvin H. Danenberg, DDS Nutritional Periodontist
September 18, 2017 [printfriendly]

Dental Plaque Is Healthy Until It's NotDental plaque is healthy, until it’s not.

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What? How could dental plaque be healthy?

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Isn’t dental plaque made up of unhealthy bacteria? Haven’t we all been told that you must get all the plaque off your teeth or you will develop gum disease and tooth decay? Don’t all dentists tell you to use antimicrobial toothpastes and mouthwashes to kill all those bugs or else there will be dental disease?

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The answers to all the above questions seem to be, “Yes!” But, “Yes” may not be the correct answer. Here’s why.

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An unhealthy diet and an unhealthy lifestyle could cause unhealthy changes in the gut. These changes in the gut may affect the overall host response and the balance of microbes in the mouth.[1] The results could cause healthy dental plaque around the teeth to become unhealthy, which then could lead to gum disease and tooth decay.

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Healthy Dental Plaque

Dental plaque starts off being healthy. When dental plaque is healthy, it exists in a state of homeostasis. That means that the bacteria in healthy dental plaque are in a state of equilibrium or balance. Plaque is made up of hundreds of bacteria – some by themselves are good and some by themselves are bad. Yet, when dental plaque is healthy, bacteria are living happily together in the biofilm attached to the base of teeth.

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Healthy plaque provides benefits. It keeps the acid level around teeth stable, helps remineralize the tooth surface 24/7 with beneficial nutrients, and also destroys other pathogenic bacteria from getting to the surface of the tooth and below the gum tissues. [2], [3], [4], [5] However, when dental plaque becomes unhealthy, it becomes pathogenic. Unhealthy dental plaque could become a major source of much infection.

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Medical Research

Recently published medical research provides some clues about the transformation of healthy dental plaque into unhealthy dental plaque. I selected four critical papers that tell an important story about the causes of dental diseases.

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Study #1

Ian Spreadbury published a paper in 2012. It helped explain how some of the foods, which most of us eat everyday, create damage to the human gut.[6]

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Dr. Spreadbury described how acellular carbohydrates (processed carbohydrates that have been highly condensed with their cell walls destroyed) might create dysbiosis in the gut. Acellular carbohydrates consist of processed grains and free-sugars. In the gut, increased levels of unhealthy bacteria can damage the one-cell-layer-thick gut lining and create inflammation. Undigested food particles and bacterial remnants can penetrate the damaged gut lining and enter the bloodstream. The systemic immune system can be mobilized creating effects throughout the body. Disruption of various hormones may create additional health issues. Organ systems may become affected if there is a genetic predisposition for disease. The mouth bacteria can become “out of balance”.

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Bottom line: A diet that excludes acellular carbohydrates (processed grains and free sugars) may remove the root cause of many of the chronic diseases that are prevalent in modern civilizations today. Dental diseases are chronic diseases.

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Study #2

In 2009, Dr. Baumgartner reported a study that was set in an area of Switzerland.[7]

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In this controlled experiment, ten individuals were not able to brush or floss for 30 days. Their diet consisted of primal foods endemic to their area in Switzerland about 5,700 years ago. No processed foods were available. These participants had to gather and forage for the majority of their food. At the beginning and at the end of the study, pocket depths and bleeding-on-probing around the teeth were measured, and cultures of bacteria in their plaque and on the tongue were taken. At the end of the study, there were a significant decrease in bleeding-on-probing and a significant decrease in pocket depths. Amounts of dental plaque increased greatly, but virulent bacteria in the plaque and on the tongue did not increase. Dental plaque and other oral microbes were in a state of homeostasis at the end of the four-week experiment.

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Bottom line: A diet that completely removes processed foods reduces the signs and symptoms of gum disease. This type of diet allows the interactions of bacteria in dental plaque to become and stay balanced and healthy.

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Study #3

Dr. Johan Woelber and researchers performed a randomized clinical trial, which they reported in 2016.[8]

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Fifteen people were selected for this trial. Only those who had signs of gum disease and were eating a diet heavily based on processed carbohydrates were selected for the study. Ten individuals made up the experimental group, and five individuals made up the control group.

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The experimental group had to change their diet. Their new diet consisted of foods low in processed carbohydrates, rich in omega-3 fatty acids, and abundant in vitamins C and D, antioxidants and fiber. The control group did not change their eating habits.

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As far as oral hygiene was concerned, all fifteen participants were instructed not to clean between their teeth with dental floss or interdental brushes. However, they did not have to change the way they brushed their teeth.

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The study began after each group had two weeks to acclimate to these changes I mentioned above. Then, the four-week study began. The signs of gum disease (bleeding-on-probing, pocket depths, degree of gingival inflammation) in all participants of this scientific project were recorded at the start of the four-week study and at the end.

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At the conclusion of the trial, all disease parameters decreased significantly in the experimental group by approximately 50% from the starting point. In contrast, all inflammatory markers increased from the starting point in the control group.

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Bottom line: A diet that eliminates free-sugars and processed grains and includes healthy foods can reduce the signs and symptoms of gum disease. Again, a diet that removes processed foods and includes nutrient-dense foods can maintain dental plaque in a healthy state.

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Study #4

Dr. Sheiham reported on the pivotal role of free-sugars in the development of dental decay.[9]

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He and his associate published their paper in 2015, which evaluated many previous research studies. The authors concluded:

  • Dental decay is diet mediated.
  • Free-sugars are the primary and necessary factors to develop dental decay.
  • Acid-producing bacteria and other factors facilitate the development of decay, but free-sugars are required.
  • Processed food starches possess very low decay potential.

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Free-sugars include all sugars added to foods in any way. These sugars include white, brown, and raw sugars. All manufactured sweeteners, corn syrup, and high fructose corn syrup are free-sugars. Free-sugars also include those naturally occurring sugars in syrups, fruit juices, concentrates, and processed honey.

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Bottom line: Dental caries is a diet-mediated disease. Free-sugars are the primary and necessary factor in the development in dental decay. These free-sugars feed decay-producing bacteria in healthy plaque, which in turn becomes unhealthy plaque. Free-sugars allow these specific bacteria to overgrow and produce excessive acids that demineralize the tooth surface.

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Summary

Medical research is fine, but I need practical solutions for my patients and me. That’s why I added “Bottom line” comments after each “Study” I discussed above.

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In essence, acellular carbohydrates (which includes free-sugars and processed grains) and all other processed foods containing chemicals should be eliminated from the diet. Foods high in omega-3 fatty acids (ex. healthy fish like salmon, sardines, anchovies); vitamin C (ex. citrus, bell peppers, broccoli); vitamin D (ex. healthy sun exposure, cod liver oil, pastured eggs, mushrooms); antioxidants (ex. dark chocolate, berries); and fiber (ex. fruits, vegetables) should be emphasized in the diet. These foods are nutrient-dense and support cellular health and a healthy immune system.

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When the diet supports cellular function and does not create dysbiosis, dental plaque will remain healthy and not pathogenic. Once dental plaque becomes unhealthy, a vicious cycle begins between unhealthy food, unhealthy gut, and chronic diseases including gum disease and tooth decay. Once disease ensues, all sources of disease must be treated and brought back to health and balance.

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Be proactive.

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Crazy-Good Living

Hormones & Swollen Gums

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

hormones-swollen-gums

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Solutions

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.

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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.

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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.

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

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Who Knew It Was So Obvious?

      Alvin H. Danenberg, DDS     Nutritional Periodontist
      May 31, 2016   [printfriendly]
 
 
     
 

Who Knew It Was So Obvious?It’s so simple.

 

I’m amazed.

 

When I stop to think, the obvious blows me away.

 

Here’s what I know:

 

I know that today’s science and knowledge are growing at an exponential rate. No manmade machine has ever been created or built that is as complex, compact, unique, and self-perpetuating as the human body. Hundreds of thousands of years of evolution have allowed our human species to become quite perfect. I know that animals in the wild for the most part do not have chronic diseases like heart disease, diabetes, cancer, rheumatoid arthritis, high blood pressure, obesity, tooth decay, or gum disease. And, I know that modern humans are plagued with chronic diseases of all types leading to severe compromise in the quality of life.

 

What I also know is that humans throughout time have evolved because their food sources were natural. These foods were not the same for every primal society. Yet, the food from the land and the sea allowed their body to develop the amazing ability to survive and thrive. If any species were not able to survive and thrive, it would have been deselected and removed from the evolutionary timeline by other more adapted species.

 

What I know is that my body needs what my primal ancestors needed – nutrient dense foods, restorative sleep, efficient exercise, and reduction of stress. I will provide these basics in order to stay as healthy as I can with the least decline in the quality of my life moving forward. I also know that others who don’t know what I know will not misguide me.

 

Who knew? It is so obvious to me. Is it obvious to you?

 

graphic source

 

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Eat Better – Live Better – Feel Better
(Part 3 of 3)

      Alvin H. Danenberg, DDS     May 7, 2016   [printfriendly]
 
 
     
 

Eat Better - Live Better - Feel BetterIn Part 1, I described how acute inflammation could develop into chronic inflammation. In Part 2, I discussed the damaging effects of chronic inflammation.

 
Now it’s time to make a difference and be proactive. My goal is to help you bring chronic inflammation to its knees.

 

The methods to reduce chronic inflammation in the body include an anti-inflammatory diet and an anti-inflammatory lifestyle. Results are not going to happen by taking a pill to solve the problem. It will take repeated and significant efforts on your part. But, your personal benefits will be life changing.

 
1. Human cells and gut bacteria must be kept happy. They must be fed what they require.

 
Nourishment with nutrient-dense foods is the answer. These include animal products from nose to tail. Animals should be pastured or wild caught and allowed to eat their natural diet. They should not be fed foods that have been genetically modified or contaminated with any chemicals, hormones, or antibiotics. Other nutrient-dense foods include vegetables, fruits, nuts, and seeds.

 
Three foods that are not on everyone’s radar are: (1) sea vegetables (seaweeds), which are unusual vegetables that offer significant nutrient density; (2) liver, which contains nutrients that are hard to find elsewhere in such concentration, and (3) fermented foods like sauerkraut, kimchi, and kefir, all of which are loaded with live cultures of good bacteria for the gut.

 
In addition, fiber from vegetables and fruits support the growth and function of healthy bacteria in the gut.

 
2. The gut lining must be kept intact. Anything that could damage this lining or the healthy balance of microbes must be eliminated.

 
Some of the unhealthy substances that are damaging to the healthy balance of flora in the gut and to the delicate gut lining are:

  • Processed grains
  • Processed sugars
  • Processed food products that have unhealthy ingredients (including added sugars, unhealthy fats, chemicals, preservatives, food coloring, etc.)
  • Legumes in general (some legumes can be soaked and cooked properly to make them less of a problem)
  • Unhealthy fats (including man-made trans fats and any partially-hydrogenated or hydrogenated fats) as well as excessive omega 6 fatty acids from processed vegetable oils (including corn oil, soybean oil, peanut oil, canola oil, safflower oil, etc.)
  • Pasteurized and homogenized milk and milk products from cows that have been grain fed
  • Continued bouts of antibiotic treatment and other toxic substances

 

3. Specific lifestyle habits are necessary to support the immune system and reduce chronic inflammation.

 
Stress Reduction is a difficult goal. We live in a society where external stresses and self-imposed stresses are a part of daily life. This is one area where I have much work to do personally. Here is an example where stress alone caused severe damage in the mouth.

 
Whatever excuses you may have, the reduction of most stress is in your power. Stress reduction is essential for health. Ways to reduce stress include:

  • Exercise
  • Meditation
  • Yoga
  • Deep breathing
  • Progressive muscle relaxation
  • Advice from a qualified mental healthcare provider

 

Restorative Sleep is the way your body reconditions itself. It means obtaining 7-8 hours of sleep a night. It should be in a quiet, cool, and dark environment to be most beneficial.

 
Effective Exercise includes the correct amount and correct intensity of aerobic and anaerobic sessions that are customized for your body. Also, non-exercise movements are biologically necessary including walking and standing rather than sitting at a desk most of the day. Excessive exercise as well as a sedentary lifestyle can contribute to chronic inflammation.

 
4. Vitamin D from the sun is an important ingredient to maintain health and reduce inflammation.

 
Vitamin D has been shown to be vital in many normal biological functions in the body. The best source is proper exposure to sunlight. An excellent app to determine how much sun you may require based on where you live, the time of year, your age, your skin color, the amount of clothing you wear, etc. is called D Minder.

 
Other natural sources of vitamin D include cod liver oil, wild caught fatty fish, pastured egg yolks, and grass fed butter.

 
One way to determine how much vitamin D is in your blood is to have your healthcare professional order a blood test called 25-Hydroxy Vit D Test.

 
There are supplements of vitamin D3 you could consume. However, you need to have vitamin K2 as well as Vitamin A in your diet for these supplements to work properly throughout your body.

 

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So, that does it. Eat better; feel better; live better. The Holy Grail for health seems to be (1) giving your body what it needs and (2) removing from your body what it does not need. Easier said than done, but definitely doable. At 69 years of age, I am a living example of how I transformed my life with a healthy diet and lifestyle. Read my story.

 

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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?

6 Things To Do for Health & Longevity

     Alvin H. Danenberg, DDS          September 27, 2015

 

evolution rHealth and longevity cannot be reduced to only 6 things to do – or can they?

 

Actually, research has demonstrated that the following six actions can and will lead to a healthier you and will improve the quality of your years going forward. My personal goal is to live a quality life with no degenerative, chronic diseases, and then just go quietly in the night with no fuss.

 

Each of these six endeavors should become your personal goals:

 

 

1. Eat nutrient-dense foods and get rid of the junk.

 

In this paper published in July 2015, nutrient-dense foods were shown to be beneficial for health and longevity. (Here)

 

You know my position on a Paleo-type (or anti-inflammatory) diet. It is a nutrient-dense way of eating. Peer-reviewed papers have proven not only the ability of a Paleo-type way of eating to improve health but also to be satiating. (Here)  There are many variations of a Paleo-type diet, but all agree – remove junk foods entirely and emphasize nutrient-dense foods.

 

The junk foods include:

  • Sugars that are added to any food
  • Grains
  • All processed foods
  • Liquid oils that are primarily Omega-6 fatty acids (such as soybean oil, canola oil, corn oil)

 

The nutrient-dense foods include:

  • Pastured and wild caught animal products from nose to tail with all their healthy fats
  • Non-starchy vegetables
  • Starchy vegetables, nuts, seeds, and fruits in moderation

 

 

2. Understand hunger from within

 

Eat when you are hungry. Humans do not need to eat 3 meals a day with in-between snacks. On the contrary, our bodies perform better when there are episodes of fasting. Intermittent fasting has been reported to improve health and longevity. (Here, Here)

 

When you are eating a meal, think about each forkful of food you put into your mouth. Are you still hungry? If not, then stop eating. Your goal is to eat until you are satisfied and the hunger is no longer present. Your goal is not to eat until you are stuffed or until every morsel of food on your plate has been consumed.

 

 

3. Exercise efficiently

 

Exercise stimulates healthy bodily chemistries. Research has shown that the most efficient exercise is in the form of high intensity interval training. (Here, Here, Here). But also, research has shown that non-exercise movement like walking is critical for health. The phenomenon is called NEAT (Non Exercise Activity Thermogenesis). (Here, Here, Here). As a matter of fact, other forms of intense exercise will not replace the importance of daily non-exercise activities.

 

 

4. Reduce stress

 

Your body is designed to deal with acute, intermittent stress. It is not designed to deal with chronic, unrelenting stress. (Here).

 

Stress takes the form of chemical insults like environmental toxins, physical insults like over exercise or an accident, psychological insults like abusive relationships or worry. Chronic stress breaks down the gut, leads to systemic inflammation, and damages organ systems. (Here). Stress also affects the mouth. (Here).

 

 

5. Sleep restoratively

 

You body rebuilds and reenergizes itself while asleep. (Here)  The human body was designed to respond to a circadian rhythm. When the sun sets, your body is ready to sleep; when the sun rises, your body is ready to awaken. Most adults benefit from at least 7-8 hours of sleep commencing between 9-11 PM. The ideal sleeping environment should be a dark and cool room.

 

 

6. Get sun

 

Sun stimulates the skin to produce Vitamin D3 from cholesterol in your skin. (Here)  Vitamin D is critical for every cell in the body to function properly. Most of us require 5-15 minutes a day of sun exposure, 2-3 days a week without sunscreen and with 70-80% of the body exposed to the vital UVB rays.

 

 

My Final Thoughts

 

There you have them – six things to do for health and longevity. The science is there, but the science will not make you healthier.  Only your motivation to implement the science into personal actions will improve your health and extend your longevity.

We Were Born to be Healthy:
Part 6 of 7

evolution rThis is installment 6. Part 1 is HERE; Part 2 is HERE, Part 3 is HERE, Part 4 is HERE, Part 5 is HERE.

 

Here is how I treat advanced gum disease in my office.

 

I first address the acute problem if there is one. Other dental procedures that need to be completed are treated. Then I perform specific gum treatment usually using the PerioLase laser with LANAP (Laser Assisted New Attachment Procedure).

 

Following active gum treatment, I establish a necessary maintenance program based on the needs of each patient.

 

But, I go a step further. I incorporate my knowledge of primal nutrition and my appreciation for gut health. I provide nutrition and immune support for my patients who are interested in improving their health for the rest of their lives.

 

Nutrient-Dense foods:

 

The science clearly shows that nutrient-dense foods are medicine. They allow every cell in our body to survive and thrive. The trick is knowing what these foods are and what they are not.

 

It is important to understand that any nutrient isolated alone in a synthetic supplement form does not produce the health effects, as would a whole food containing that nutrient. Real food contains so much more nutrient-synergism than we understand or comprehend. Our knowledge is not as advanced as we might think it is.

 

This is a typical meal of the Standard American Diet.

Burger for blog

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

This is the obvious result of years of ingestion of the Standard American Diet.

Cellular damage was actually occurring and beginning to compound decades before clinical signs and symptoms were evident.

Overweight for blog

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Here is a summary of nutrient-dense foods:

Animal proteins should be pastured and wild caught – not grain fed or farmed. Organ meats are one of the most nutrient-dense foods on the planet – liver, brain, heart, kidney (you may need to acquire a taste for these). Healthy fats are your friends, contrary to popular belief. Saturated fats from grass fed beef or pastured pork are healthy; coconut oil is healthy; avocados are healthy; butter from grass fed cattle is healthy. All non-starchy and deeply colored veggies are healthy. Seaweeds like kelp and wakame are healthy. All dark colored fruits like berries in moderation are healthy. Nuts and seeds, herbs and spices, and fermented foods are healthy. Homemade bone broth is extremely healthy for your gut. And don’t forget clean, filtered water.

 

A healthy plate of food

In order to get the combination of micronutrients and macronutrients your body requires and craves, you could think about eating in this way:
Food Plate for blog

For every meal or snack you eat, visualize it like a plate of food.

  • More than 1/2 of the plate should be non-starchy veggies with healthy fat like olive oil or melted butter from grass-fed cattle.
  • Up to 1/4 could be a protein like salmon or pastured chicken or grass fed beef with its own healthy fats.
  • And less than 1/4 could be a few nuts or a few blueberries or maybe a small sweet potato – again with some healthy fats if possible.

 

Here is what to avoid:

Grains, processed foods (including pasteurized milk products), sugars, industrial oils, and legumes (because of antinutrients and high carbohydrates) should be avoided. Animal products from Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations (CAFOs) should definitely be avoided. CAFOs are cluttered, unhealthy factories where antibiotics, hormones, chemicals, and other toxic substances often are administered to the livestock. Then these meats are processed for sale.

 

These are CAFOs

CAFO 1 for blogCAFO 2 for blog

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

In the next and last installment, I will discuss some natural supplements I suggest to my patients, and then I will wrap up my thoughts with my overall lifestyle philosophy.

Best Dental Insurance You Can Have

evolution rWhat’s the best dental insurance? It’s not the dental rider on your employer’s health plan. It’s not the government-assisted program better known as a freebie. It’s not some self-pay contraption. It’s none of those obvious things.
 
The best dental insurance is you doing what you need to do for yourself to prevent dental disease altogether. Yup. It’s all you – with a little help from your diet, your lifestyle, and your motivation.
 
Let’s be clear. Our primal ancestors hardly ever had gum disease or tooth decay. There are many reasons – they didn’t eat processed foods; they weren’t exposed to the environmental toxins of today; they didn’t live with chronic psychological stress many of us are coping with. Oh yeah, they ate nutrient-dense foods and lived an active lifestyle. All those things (1) provided nourishment for their cells to survive and thrive, (2) maintained diverse and healthy gut bacteria, and (3) sustained an intact intestinal lining.
 
In today’s world, we can’t duplicate what was around in the Paleolithic Era. And, we wouldn’t want to live that way! But, today we can incorporate the best of that world with the best of our current way of life. Here are the steps I think we all could take to provide ourselves with the best dental insurance (and for that matter, overall health insurance):

  • Consume nutrient-dense foods. A Paleo-type diet stands out as being the best from my personal research and experience.
  • Sleep restoratively. Sleep about 7-8 hours a night starting from the hours between 9 PM and 11 PM. Make it a dark, cool, quiet room.
  • Exercise efficiently. This includes a combination of (1) some aerobic exercise, (2) 1-2 days a week of brief, high-intensity interval training, (3) 1-2 days a week of brief, intense strength training, and (4) non-exercise movements during the course of most of each day.
  • Reduce stress. Meditate; practice yoga; try diaphragmatic breathing; and experiment with progressive, total body muscle relaxation.
  • Practice effective oral hygiene. Brush into the gum margins; floss and clean the between surfaces of each of your teeth; scrape the topside of your tongue to remove odor forming bacteria and microscopic food remnants.
  • Visit a dental professional as necessary. Appointments don’t need to be every 6 months. They need to be with a frequency that addresses your individual needs – sometimes every couple of months and sometimes every few years.

 
There you have it. The best dental (and overall health) insurance you can have.

Paleo and Perio:
Who’da Thunk?

evolution rWho would have thought that a Paleo Diet could improve or prevent periodontal disease (gum disease)? The science is there, and its interpretation is exciting. Here are two papers that have great importance:
 
PAPER #1:
 
In a paper published in 2009, researchers evaluated a group of 10 people who lived for 30 days in a replicated Stone Age environment near the Rhine River in Switzerland. The design of this research required a diet that was devoid of all processed foods. Their diet only consisted of foods that ancient people would have consumed in that geographical area around 5,700 years ago. They were given some basics of raw food, but they had to forage and fish for most of their food. During the 4-week course of the study, these individuals were unable to perform any oral hygiene; they were not given any modern gadgets like toothbrushes or dental floss. At the beginning of the study, any existing gum problems were recorded and the types of bacteria present in their mouths were determined.
 
At the completion of the 4-week experiment, plaque levels at the gum line around the teeth increased as expected. However, researchers were surprised by a reduction in gum infection. The depths of infected gum pockets decreased significantly (p < 0.001), and bleeding from the gum pockets decreased significantly (p < 0.001). When bacteria in the mouth were examined at the end of the study, those samples revealed a change in the balance of bacteria, which favored healthy types of microbes rather than pathogenic ones. Good bacteria increased; bad bacteria decreased; plaque increased; and the individuals could not perform any oral hygiene for the entire 30 days – the researchers were shocked!
 
The reasons for the surprise results were the ingestion of nutrient-dense foods (these positively affected the gut and mouth microbiome along with the intestinal lining) as well as the complete avoidance of any processed foods (these would have damaged the gut and mouth microbiome along with the intestinal lining).
 
A diet that supports this type of healthy outcome is a Paleo-type diet.
 
PAPER #2:
 
It would be helpful if specific nutrients that were contained in foods could be identified that improved mouth health. In a paper that was published in 2013, the authors performed an extensive search of peer-reviewed literature attempting to identify the types of nutrients that could help tissues heal after periodontal surgery and help prevent periodontal disease.
 
If a diet contained these beneficial nutrients in abundance in their natural states, it probably would be embraced. Nutrients in their natural state and contained in food are much more effective biologically than nutrients that are commercially isolated and unnaturally provided in supplement form.
 
The authors of this analysis reviewed 37 published papers and concluded, “There is some evidence that a wide variety of dietary components – including macronutrients and micronutrients – are integral for optimal periodontal health as well as healing after periodontal procedures.”
 
Here is a summary of the nutrients that were reported either to improve healing after periodontal surgery or to reduce the incidence of periodontal disease:

  • Vitamin D
  • DHA (an omega-3 fatty acid that is abundant in fatty fish like salmon)
  • Low ratio of omega-6 fatty acids to omega-3 fatty acids (ideal ratio is 1:1; average US diet consists of ratio about 30:1)
  • Low ratio of omega-6 fatty acids to omega-3 fatty acids (ideal ratio is 1:1; average US diet consists of ratio about 30:1)
  • Low sugar and processed carbohydrates; high fiber
  • Calcium
  • Magnesium
  • Vitamin C

 
A diet that incorporates all these nutrients within its food choices is a Paleo-type diet.
 
MY SUMMARY
 
A Paleo-type diet avoids processed foods that have been identified with gut dysbiosis, intestinal permeability, and chronic inflammation. A Paleo-type diet provides all the nutrients needed for every cell to survive and thrive. Such a diet consists of animal products from head to tail that have been pasture raised or wild caught, fruits, vegetables, nuts, and seeds. There are no acellular carbohydrates, no processed foods, and no unhealthy fats or oils included in a Paleo-type diet.

My Favorite Paleo Recipes:
Powerhouse Salad

 
evolution rFood is Medicine. This is a powerful statement!
 
Almost 2500 years ago, Hippocrates was credited with saying, “Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.” He also was credited with saying, “The natural healing force within each of us is the greatest force in getting well.”
 
Nutrient-dense foods nourish us and assist our natural healing potential by stimulating a myriad of biochemical processes. One process is the activation of the Nrf2 pathway, which I described in this previous blog. Dr. Pall and Dr. Levine, in their 2015 review article, inferred that the Nrf2 pathway might well be one of the most important discoveries of all time.
 
The following nutrient-dense salad includes many phytonutrients, most of which stimulate the Nrf2 pathway in addition to other biochemical pathways. It’s not only delicious but also “medicinal”. This has become my favorite go-to health salad. Play around with the ingredients and their quantities, and see if it becomes one of your favorites.
 

Ingredients: (all ingredients are organic)

  • 1 4-ounce bag of Herb Blend Organic Salad by Earthbound Farm (baby lettuces, chard, mizuna, spinach, arugula, radicchio, parsley, dill, cilantro)
  • 2 Tbs extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 avocado, sliced and diced
  • 1 tomato, sliced and diced
  • 1 Tsp fresh ginger, grated
  • 1 Tsp fresh basil, chopped
  • 1 Tsp Kelp Granules (I use Maine Coast Sea Seasonings)
  • 1 Tsp turmeric
  • 1 Tsp green onion, chopped
  • 1 Tsp fresh garlic, chopped
  • 1 cup fresh berries (blueberries, strawberries, blackberries, raspberries)
  • salt and pepper to taste

 

Preparation:

  • Add all ingredients into salad bowl and toss (use more or less of any ingredient to satisfy your taste)
  • Serve in separate salad bowls