Mary, Mary, Quite Contrary,
How Does Your Gut Garden Grow?

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

Mary, Mary, Quite Contrary, How Does Your Gut Garden GrowDo you have a green thumb? Do you know how to make flowers grow in your garden? Simple! Provide water, sunshine, and necessary nutrients – and the flowers will please you with their blooms. Also critical: don’t add anything toxic that could kill them.


How about your gut? Do you know how to make the healthy bacteria in your gut grow and flourish? You need to feed them what they need. You also need to keep any toxic substances out. A healthy gut will help your mouth stay healthy. Remember, your mouth is not an island unto itself. A healthy gut will reward your body immensely.


A major food source for a healthy gut garden is fiber – various types of fermentable fibers. Basically, these fibers are abundant in fruits and vegetables. Bacteria ferment these fibers and produce many substances that benefit not only the bacteria but also your body. But, some foods can damage the critical balance of bacteria in the gut. Some foods could be toxic to the healthy growth of the garden in your gut.


Here is a peer-reviewed paper, which I discussed in past articles. It shows how the choice of food can make a difference in the bacteria living in the mouths of this group of people.


The Study: This report was published in the Journal of Periodontology back in 2009. It tells an interesting tale. Ten individuals in Switzerland were challenged to eat foods that were only available in that area of Switzerland 5,700 years ago. These foods obviously were not processed foods. They were foods that could be fished, hunted, and gathered from the immediate area. The experiment lasted 4 weeks. At the beginning of the trial, the types of bacteria around their teeth were cultured, the degree of gum bleeding around their teeth was noted, and the depths of gum pockets were measured. Oh, by the way, the participants could not brush or floss for the entire 4-week experiment. Guess what happened?


The Results: At the end of the investigation, areas of gum bleeding decreased and gum pockets decreased – all statistically significant. The accumulation of dental plaque grew to a large amount, but the types of bacteria in the plaque were not virulent. The bacteria that would cause gum disease and tooth decay declined! How could that be? (And by the way, the participants lost about 5-7 pounds each, and their average blood pressure declined.)


The Reasons: The bacteria in the gut were nourished by healthy foods and natural fibers, which these primal foods provided. There was no contamination by toxic substances in this diet or lifestyle. The healthy bacteria balance in the gut supported a healthy bacteria balance in the mouth, while the entire body benefited.


Take Home Message: There is a way to naturally feed the garden in your gut, which has a profound effect on the health of your body. Eating primal foods and avoiding processed foods make the difference.


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

Six Steps to the New You

evolution rSo, it’s the New Year and you’re thinking about the New You.
You think you want to go Paleo or Primal or Ancestral. They basically are all the same with only slight differences. Here are 6 steps to reach your goal of eliminating the bad foods. Although some people may want to jump in all at once, there may be problems going too fast.
For example, research has shown that refined sugars may be as addictive as cocaine. You could have intense cravings for refined carbohydrates during the first few weeks. It also would be reasonable to expect some withdrawal symptoms like headaches, sluggishness, or a little “brain fog” after eliminating these from your diet. Going slowly may be the best thing for you.
Others might have uncomfortable body reactions because already-stored toxins could be released too quickly and bad bacteria could be overwhelmed too quickly. These reactions might manifest in various ways like acne, diarrhea, nausea, stomachaches, bloating, gas, muscle or joint aches, or headaches. For these reasons, some people may prefer to take it slowly.
There are some people who may not have made up their minds that a new program is right for them. They might prefer to test the waters by taking baby steps.
Here is a progressive program that eases you into a healthy eating lifestyle over the next 12 weeks – one step at a time. Remember, this isn’t a diet; it’s a lifestyle change. Of course, you don’t have to take it slowly; you could jump in 100% on day ONE.
Step 1: Eliminate unhealthy oils and fats
For the next 14 days, remove all vegetable and seed oils, chemically produced trans fats, and partially hydrogenated fats from your diet. The reason: these oils and fats are toxic to your body. The only oils you will put on salads in moderation are macadamia oil or extra virgin olive oil. When it comes to sautéing, the only fats you will use will be saturated fats like coconut oil, butter or ghee from grass-fed cows, or other saturated fats like tallow from grass-fed and grass-finished cattle or lard from pastured pigs. You will completely avoid such liquid polyunsaturated oils as canola oil, sunflower oil, safflower oil, corn oil, cottonseed oil, soybean oil, etc. If you are eating processed foods, you will need to investigate the ingredient lists of these foods to see if they contain any forbidden fats or oils.
Step 2: Eliminate all grains
For the next 14 days, remove all grains from your diet. The reason: these carbohydrates will damage the lining of your gut, will change your gut bacteria to produce more harmful microbes, and will interfere with your normal hormonal balance. Grains include all cereals, breads made from wheat or other grain flours, pasta, crackers, cookies, cakes, muffins, bagels, pretzels, popcorn, rice biscuits, and anything on a label that includes any grain product. If you eat foods from grain-fed animals, you ultimately will be eating grain that was incorporated into their meat and fat.
Step 3: Eliminate all added sugars and artificial sweeteners
For the next 14 days, remove all added sugars and artificial sweeteners. The reason: refined and artificial sugars eventually stimulate your hormones to function poorly creating cellular damage as well as damage to your gut lining and to your healthy gut bacteria. Look at labels on processed foods. Many are loaded with sugar and sugar aliases like high fructose corn syrup, agave nectar, cane juice, dextrose, etc. Artificial sweeteners consist of aspartame (NutraSweet), sucralose (Splenda), Saccharine, etc. If you need a sweetener, you sparingly may use local, raw honey, which is a whole food.
Step 4: Eliminate all legumes
For the next 14 days, remove all legumes from you diet. The reason: legumes contain antinutrients that prevent certain minerals being absorbed through your gut and damage the lining of your gut. They include peanuts, black beans, garbanzo beans, pinto beans, lima beans, soybeans, lentils, etc.
Step 5: Eliminate pasteurized and homogenized milk and milk products
For the next 14 days, remove all conventionally processed milk products that include all pasteurized and homogenized products. The reason: these milk products have been physically, chemically, and biologically altered in such a way that it may be damaging to your gut lining and your hormone balance. Also, many people are lactose intolerant and/or sensitive to the casein protein in milk, which can mimic the gluten protein. Raw and non-homogenized milk and cheeses from cows and goats are OK if you can tolerate them.
Step 6: Eliminate most processed food products
For the next 14 days, remove processed food products. The reason: these generally contain chemical additives, preservatives, artificial ingredients, genetically modified foods, excess unhealthy salt, unhealthy fats, refined sugars, acellular carbohydrates, and various elements that may be toxic to your body over time. If the processed food only has healthy ingredients you recognize, then don’t be concerned. But if this food product has ingredients you cannot pronounce or obvious offenders as I have described, avoid it.

Healthier Mouth … Healthier Lifestyle … Healthier You
Part 2 of 5

evolution rMy eating style is based on human evolution – sometimes known as Paleo Lifestyle, or Ancestral Lifestyle, or Primal Lifestyle. They are all the same. Below are the foods that our ancestors never ate because these foods did not exist over the 2.5 million years of human evolution. Our bodies were never designed to ingest and digest these foods.
Foods to Avoid:
• Modern grains can initiate inflammation and a leaky gut, through which undigested foods and bad bacteria can leak into the bloodstream. Not good! This creates a cascade of events that can cause various chronic diseases and obesity. Grains also encourage the development of unhealthy bacteria in the gut, which never evolved to digest grains completely. Unhealthy bacteria in the gut mean unhealthy bacteria in the mouth. Grains need to be eliminated from our diets.
• Unnatural sugars contribute to unhealthy bacteria and chronic diseases as grains do. From a dental standpoint, sugars are fermentable carbohydrates that feed oral bacteria, which cause dental decay and gum disease. All added sugars like fructose, agave, and high fructose corn syrup should be avoided.
• Polyunsaturated vegetable oils (like canola oil, sunflower oil, soybean oil, corn oil, and safflower oil) are unstable and break down easily as a result of commercial processing and normal cooking. Ingestion of these fats damages metabolic processes causing harm to individual cells. Also, chemically altered trans fats and partially hydrogenated fats are toxic to the body. All of these need to be avoided.
• Processed foods contain too many carbohydrates, unhealthy fats, and an excess of unhealthy salt. They also contain various chemicals, which attempt to add back nutrients and to help food maintain a longer shelf life. Many of these additives are toxic. Processed foods should be avoided.
• Legumes have anti-nutrients that irritate the intestinal lining and prevent proper absorption of many minerals. Legumes are not essential for health and only offer a low level of nutrients per gram. Legumes include most beans, peas, lentils, soy, and peanuts. Commercially available soy and peanuts should always be avoided because cooking cannot destroy peanuts’ anti-nutrients, and soy contains phytoestrogens and trypsin inhibitors. The phytoestrogens confuse the body into thinking it is real estrogen, and the trypsin inhibitors interfere with normal protein digestion. However, soaking other beans, peas, and lentils for 8-12 hours and cooking them long enough to reduce the harmful level of anti-nutrients are methods that may make these legumes less harmful.
Tomorrow I will suggest those foods that are critical for health.

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.


Anyone Can Do Almost Anything For 30 Days

evolution rThink about it. Thirty days out of one’s life is literally a drop in the bucket – just 0.11% of an average person’s lifespan. So, I am going to suggest a 30-day challenge that might be life changing. First, consider what you could learn in 30 days.
You might be able to determine if a new job were right for you, or if a certain location were worth moving to, or if the fluffy little dog with the huge inviting eyes you bought for a pet is now your best friend. Thirty days also could tell you if a dietary change might improve your health for the rest of your life.
Most of us who are over 40 years old are dealing with at least some type of physical discomfort, or at the other extreme some type of degenerative disease. There are medicines and salves and don’t forget the “in treatments” of the day to care for those problems. But I believe there might be a better way.
My suggestion might make a huge change in your health. If I were right, then you could become a huge winner. If I were wrong, then it only would be 30 days out of the rest of your life – not a big deal.
Here is my challenge to you:
For the next 30 days, or whenever you want to start, stop eating all grains and products made from grains. Grains include wheat, rye, barley, corn, rice, millet, and oats. And stop all foods that are made from these grains like bread, muffins, cookies, cakes, pretzels, pasta, popcorn, pancakes, pizza dough, etc. You also need to be aware that many grains are in the ingredients of other processed foods. So, you will need to read the ingredient labels on the foods you buy at the grocery store.
What’s wrong with grains? Science has shown that grains irritate the lining of your gut, increase unhealthy bacteria in your gut that travel throughout your body, and interfere with your body’s ability to absorb necessary nutrients from your foods. Grains can create chronic inflammation in your body that may contribute to many chronic diseases. Grains also can produce irritations in your mouth like ulcers and sores that seem not to heal.
At the end of 30 days, you just might realize that you feel much better than you have felt for a long time. You also may discover that you have lost some of those pounds that you wanted to get rid of for a while. You even may decide to extend this experiment and include additional healthy choices to see what other positive outcomes you could enjoy.
I am here to help you with those new choices.


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.