Stress – The Quiet Destroyer

Alvin H. Danenberg, DDS  Nutritional Periodontist
January 29, 2018 [printfriendly]


stress- the quiet destrooyer


Recently, Chris Kresser wrote about Mark (one of his patients who had serious Crohn’s Disease). Mark had done his homework and learned a great deal about diet and nutrition. As it turned out, Mark was a fanatic about researching methods to resolve his disease. He implemented various healthy diets and food restrictions to try to get his gut healthy. But, to no avail. On examination, Chris Kresser identified Mark’s primary source of his gut dysfunction to be significant psychological stress. Stress is the quiet destroyer. Stress disturbed Mark’s gut microbiome, which went on to create gut and systemic problems. Mark would not be able to get his health issues under control with just nutrient-dense food regimens. The first thing Mark would need to do would be to address his psychological stressors.

I have written about stress and the damage it can create in the mouth. In this updated article, I wrote about a woman who was under extreme emotional stress. Her stress resulted in multiple serious lesions in her mouth. These lesions were not the result of bacterial infection. Once she completely removed the stress in her life, the lesions in her mouth healed. No dental treatment was needed. No medical treatment was needed. Just the complete reduction of the stress!

In addition, I wrote several articles describing many causes of stress and some ideas on dealing with these stresses. (HERE, HERE) The following two research projects prove that stress creates gut problems.


Two Studies on Military Soldiers

Military personnel in training and in combat are under significant stress. In each of these studies, acute stress resulted in unhealthy gut outcomes for these soldiers:

This first study, published in 2013, looked at 37 military troops. They were involved in prolonged and intense combat-training. As expected, this training induced increases in stress, anxiety, and depression. However, the results also showed GI symptoms, pro-inflammatory immune activation, and increased intestinal permeability – all resulting from acute stress.

In this second study, published in 2017, 73 soldiers were subjected to intense military training, which created significant psychological stress. No matter what these soldiers ate, stress caused unhealthy changes in the gut bacteria and the way bacteria metabolized nutrients. These changes resulted in increased markers of inflammation and leaky gut. The authors of the study wrote this in their paper’s abstract:

Military training, a unique model for studying temporal dynamics of intestinal barrier and intestinal microbiota responses to stress, resulted in increased intestinal permeability concomitant to changes in intestinal microbiota composition and metabolism. Pre-stress intestinal microbiota composition and changes in fecal concentrations of metabolites linked to the microbiota were associated with increased intestinal permeability. Findings suggest that targeting the intestinal microbiota could provide novel strategies for mitigating increases in intestinal permeability during stress.

The stress of military training cannot be avoided. However, if the gut microbiome could be enhanced prior to stressful combat training, then damage to the gut might be prevented.



Ideally, a person needs to identify and resolve psychological stressors. A healthy diet will not solve the stress. But, based on these two military studies, there may be a means to improve the health of the gut bacteria to prevent inflammation and leaky gut once stress ensues. Research trials are beginning to evaluate the potential of consuming spore-based probiotics and specific prebiotics as proactive measures to improve the diversity and metabolic functions of the gut bacterial population. This supplementation might reduce or avoid gut damage following stressful events.

Stay tuned.


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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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Healthier Mouth … Healthier Lifestyle … Healthier You
Part 4 of 5

evolution rHere are my suggestions for an extra-bump-up from the nutrient-dense foods that you read about in my last post. I personally use these for my family and myself.
Supplements you may Want to Include:
• Fermented cod-liver oil combined with high vitamin butter oil is anti-inflammatory and includes an abundance of naturally occurring fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E, and K among many other nutrients. An online source is Green Pasture.
• Organic kelp powder provides many trace minerals including iodine, which are synergistic with the fat-soluble vitamins. An online source is Oregon’s Wild Harvest.
• Probiotics are healthy bacteria that help increase available bacteria in the gut. Soil-based probiotics provide a variety of beneficial microorganisms that are difficult to get with a regular probiotic supplement. Usually, probiotics are not necessary to take over a long course of time. An online source for a soil-based probiotic is Prescript-Assist.
• Prebiotics, which are soluble fibers, are important to feed your healthy gut microbiome. They are abundant in fruits and vegetables. An excellent additional source of a prebiotic is resistant starch. This is non-digestible by your gut but is food for healthy bacteria in your colon. It also is great to assist in intestinal motility for regular bowel movements. Start with only 1 teaspoon dissolved in water per day and gradually increase to as much as 2-4 tablespoons a day. An excellent source is Bob’s Red Mill Unmodified Potato Starch, which is readily available online or in most grocery stores.
Tomorrow I will change gears and talk about physical activity to get your body in shape.