16 Faces of Stress

      Alvin H. Danenberg, DDS     Nutritional Periodontist
      May 16, 2016   [printfriendly]

16 Faces of StressImagine a dining room chair with four seemingly independent legs that support the chair. However, if any leg were to weaken or break, the chair could fall over. It goes without saying that each leg of that chair would need to be strong to support the chair. The stress of losing a leg would weaken the chair.


Let’s go one step further in your imagination.


Imagine the chair is actually YOU. In this metaphor, each leg of the chair represents one of my Four Pillars of Health that I have written about so many times in the past. Each Pillar is essential for your overall health. What do you think would happen to YOU if one of those Pillars were not strong?


The Four Pillars of Health are:

  • Nutrient-dense foods
  • Restorative sleep
  • Efficient exercise
  • Stress reduction


I want to discuss Stress – one of those Pillars that is often spoken about but often not completely understood.


How you deal with stress will determine how it affects your overall health. We all have stress, but stress overload is the problem. I have written about how excessive psychological stress alone could create havoc in your mouth.


Stress is defined as any event (external or internal) that affects the adaptive resources of your body. Your body is designed to deal with stress – i.e. stress you react to and then resolve. But, continuous and unresolved stressors can overwhelm your body.


Think about a sink that is filling with water. The water flows in through the spigot, but it also flows out through the open drain at the bottom of the sink. The water represents all the stress in your life. If the drain were partially clogged or if the water started flowing much faster than it could drain out, the sink would overflow, with water ending up everywhere.


If stresses were to build up and continue faster than you could deal with them, then the effects of excess stresses on your body would be harmful. They would cause dysfunction in your Hypothalamus-Pituitary-Adrenal (HPA) pathways. Stress would overwhelm your immune system as well as other systems in your body. Stress could break you down.


You may be surprised what could be adding stress to your body. You may be unaware of many of them. Most deal with numerous aspects and events of life. Sometimes it might seem difficult to get a handle on them.


Here are just 16 faces of stress that could affect all of us to some degree:

  1. Sleep deprivation
  2. Light and dark disruptions during the day and night
  3. Gut inflammation
  4. Autoimmune disease
  5. Chronic disease
  6. Infectious disease
  7. Obesity
  8. Insulin resistance
  9. Poor diet and nutrition choices
  10. Excessive exercise
  11. Lack of recovery time between exercise routines
  12. Ingestion and inhalation of toxic substances
  13. Anxiety and depression
  14. Perceived threats of external psychological stressors
  15. Physical damage to the body
  16. Long-term regimen of various medications


These are just a few faces of events that both create stress and increase stress in our bodies. How we deal with each of them determines how healthy or sick we become. This leg of the dining room chair must be dealt with appropriately and effectively to keep the chair strong.


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A Unique Way to Understand Stress

Alvin H. Danenberg, DDS     April 25, 2016   [printfriendly]

Stress = Glass of WaterStress!

It is one of those things that everybody talks about reducing, but few people are able to get a handle on it.

Stress reduction is one of my Four Pillars of Health:

  1. Animal-based diet
  2. Stress reduction
  3. Efficient exercise
  4. Restorative sleep

Sometimes for some people, it is the most important Pillar to get under control.

There are various ways to understand and deal with stress, but I have a metaphor that tells it as it really is. It’s a great story. I saw it on the Internet and in various publications. I was impressed. It’s so insightful. I’m going to summarize it for you.

Read it; share it; but certainly walk the talk. You will probably need to revisit it from time to time. It is so powerful:

A psychologist was teaching a course in Stress Management to a group of people assembled in a lecture hall. She took a moment from her talk and paused. She then picked up a glass of water and extended her arm straight out with the glass of water in her hand. Next, she proceeded to ask an unusual question, “How heavy do you think this glass of water is?”

Her students called out various obvious answers that ranged from 8oz. to 20oz.

The astute psychologist smiled with her arm still outstretched and replied:

The actual weight isn’t the concern. What really matters is how long I hold the glass out like this.

If a minute went by, it would not be an issue.

If I continued to extend my arm for an hour, my arm would ache.

If I could hold out my arm for a day, my arm would get numb and feel paralyzed.

As time passed, the weight of the glass wouldn’t change. It still would weigh what it originally weighed. But, the longer I held it with my arm extended, the greater stress and strain it would put on my arm.

She then put the glass down and related the stress in her arm to psychological stress.

The stresses and worries in life are like that glass of water I held in my hand with my arm extended.

If you thought about life’s stresses for a while, nothing would happen.

If you thought about them for a longer time, they would begin to bother you.

Yet, if you thought about them for the entire day and beyond, they would paralyze you and prevent you from functioning normally.

Think about this metaphor. Put the glass down!!


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How Much is Too Much?

      Alvin H. Danenberg, DDS     March 28, 2016   [printfriendly]

FAQsIn 1966, a movie called Blowup came to the big screen. (Yes, I am old enough to have seen it as a young adult when it came out.) In essence, the plot developed after a photographer took a photograph that might have captured a murder in the park. Many subplots surrounded the major story of deciphering the image in the photograph.


My point is this:


As the photographer continued to enlarge the original image over and over again, the resulting prints from the negative became more and more obscure. Eventually, it was practically impossible to make out any detail because the printed image was too big to see anything other than random splotches of black and white.


Now, fast forward to today.


Today, so much has been researched and written about how to biohack our human body and its myriad of functions. There are many blood tests, urine tests, stool tests, and saliva tests that are designed to give you more and more detail of what is going on in your body. There are genetic tests that can go as far as to identify specific variations in your individual genes.


While detailed reports may provide some very important information, some of these tests could provide false positives or false negatives. In other words, they may imply you have a problem, which you actually don’t have (a false positive). Or, they may imply that you don’t have a problem, which you actually do have (a false negative). In addition, they may create conflicting details, confusing the original purpose of having all these tests done. Is it possible that too much information can make the facts somewhat obscure? How much is too much?


One question you might want to ask before having all these tests done could be, “Are there practical actions I could consider before subjecting myself to all these tests?” Another question might be, “Would the results of any of these tests fundamentally change my treatment?”


In my opinion, the simplest thing to do first would be to give your body what it needs naturally and remove from your body whatever it does not need. This might take care of all your problems. A perfect example would be eating a nutrient-dense diet and incorporating a primal lifestyle. Both efforts would go a long way to improve the health of your body before resorting to all these tests.


I have written many times about the 4 pillars of health. Consider implementing those recommendations.


If problems still persisted, you could consider specific and necessary tests to further delve into what might be the underlying problems.


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Don’t Kill All The Bugs

Alvin H. Danenberg, DDS     February 11, 2016   [printfriendly]

Don't kill all the bugsThe bacteria in your mouth play an important role. They actually help keep your mouth healthy and your overall body healthy. Don’t kill all those bugs!


It’s common to hear from “experts” that you need to kill all the bad guys in order to avoid gum disease or tooth decay. That’s not completely true.


It is true that there are a variety of unhealthy bacteria that will cause tooth decay and gum disease and other serious diseases. But, these diseases only happen when the bacteria get out of control. These virulent microbes live among many very healthy bacteria in your mouth in a state of homeostasis. They behave. As a matter of fact, some so-called bad bacteria keep even worse bacteria at bay. HERE.


Homeostasis is a process where the body manages various complex interactions to maintain balance or return systems to healthy function within a normal range. The biochemical reactions to maintain homeostasis are not completely understood. However, the dental plaque around the teeth at the gum line should exist in a healthy state because of homeostasis. I wrote an article about this.


So, if you were to listen to some of those experts out there, they would have you believe that all bacteria need to be removed from your mouth. Some of these experts might be more specific and tell you that only the bad bacteria need to be removed. They might recommend chemicals or other products to kill all these bad guys.


Let’s talk facts.


If you have gum disease or tooth decay, bad bacteria are out of control. The offending bacteria need to be brought back into a balanced state. To do this, you might need to include specific treatment to reduce the numbers of the bad guys. But that is only the beginning of taking care of the problem.


If you only were to continue to kill these bad bacteria, you could cause other potentially unhealthy microbes to overgrow. You also could kill many good guys in your quest to kill the bad guys. In so doing, you would continue to disrupt homeostasis and unintentionally increase disease. In contrast, your goal should be to bring all the bacteria back into a state of well-being.


Once you bring balance back to your body, you need to do things for your body to keep all those microbes happy. You need to feed the 3.9 trillion cells of bacteria in your body with the foods they need to stay in balance. Vegetables, fruits, nuts and seeds are part of their diet. In addition, healthy foods containing necessary nutrients help your 3.0 trillion human cells to stay strong and to function properly. (New research in 2016 determined the human cell to bacteria cell ratio.) You also need to give your body the proper rest and efficient exercise it needs to stay healthy. These things will improve your immune system so it can do its job of protecting you from outside invaders. Don’t forget that reducing stress wherever and whenever you can will enhance your immune system. I have written about these pillars of health.


An overall eating and living philosophy that supports a healthy body is embodied in a Paleo-type diet and lifestyle. You also want to clean your mouth properly. What you don’t want to do is kill the bugs that are necessary to make you as fit as you were supposed to be.


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4 Ways to Improve Our Genes

        Alvin H. Danenberg, DDS       December 14, 2015


Human GenesCurrent research suggests we are made up of approximately 19,000 genes. They hold the architectural and manufacturing plans that perform all of our body’s functions. Can they malfunction? Can they be manipulated? Are there ways to improve our genes?


Many of our genes might have slight variations in their complex building blocks. The technical term is single nucleotide polymorthism (SNP). In each of us, there may be as many as 10 million of these genetic variations in or between our genes. Some are more significant than others. SNPs even have been associated with periodontitis. (Here and Here)


So, does that matter or not?


Many of us have heard about these SNPs (pronounced SNIPS) and want to check out our bodies to see if we are plagued with these “deformities”. Many of us are running all kinds of tests from various labs to find out if we have “damaged” genes in our bodies and where these genes are located. Then, after we find out all our genetic variations, we go off half-crazed and find 20 or 30 supplements that claim to fix each one. We are a society that wants pills to fix problems.


Again, does that matter?


The truth is that all of those supplements may interfere with one another and won’t take care of the “problem”. What’s more important is that it is rarely necessary to fix all of these potential “problems” because they are not real problems. SNPs usually create problems only when their genes become overworked or overburdened.


So, what really matters? What is really affecting our genes?


I have written about the 4 pillars of health:

  • Nutrient-dense, anti-inflammatory foods
  • Efficient exercise
  • Restorative sleep
  • Reduction of stressors


It seems that taking steps to optimize these four pillars will improve the function of our genes – even the ones that may contain SNPs.


Are there SNPs in your genetic makeup? If you are concerned about them, the first (and maybe most important) thing you could do is to be sure that your personal four pillars of health are strong. This will support and improve the healthy function of all your genes.

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?