FACTS in the Past
FACTS in the Present
FACTS in the Future

Alvin H. Danenberg, DDS     April 4, 2016   [printfriendly]

FactsI have a problem.


I am a believer in learning from the past. As a matter of fact, I don’t think a healthy lifestyle or a healthy diet could be understood correctly today if one didn’t study the 2.5 million-year evolutionary history of our species. That’s why I know that a Primal diet and lifestyle are the ways that our body has been designed to thrive.


However, here is my problem.


I know of some holistic medical researchers and practitioners who base their current beliefs solely on research performed years ago. While the facts identified in those days were important at that time, some of them have been disproved today. Unfortunately, some clinical practitioners still stubbornly hold those refuted facts to be gospel today.


One example involves the health risk of saturated fats. It was once believed and proven that saturated fats increased the risk for cardiovascular disease. However, recent peer-reviewed papers have disproved those outdated facts. (HERE. HERE. HERE.) Yet, some healthcare professionals today still discourage the consumption of saturated fats based on those invalidated ideas.


Another example involves root canals performed on abscessed teeth. Many root canals that were performed in the past were biologically unhealthy because residual infection often could invade the blood system. Or, some materials used in the root canal procedure were toxic to the body. The techniques of performing root canals in the past were greatly flawed. However, today, endodontists have perfected procedures and materials to treat abscessed teeth without the risk of bacterial infection or toxic substances leaking into the bloodstream. (HERE. HERE. HERE.) Yet, some holistic practitioners today still profess that root canals should never be done because of improperly performed root canals in the past.


So, what does this mean to me?


Nothing is carved in stone. We all need to have open minds. Many truths in the past turn out to be disproved. That’s just the way it is. If we can think outside of the box, have a healthy degree of skepticism, and relish learning, all of us will be better off moving forward.


My problem is that some practitioners get stuck in facts that become proven false and are unable to open their minds to newer knowledge.


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Don’t Go Nuts for Nuts and Seeds

evolution rPrimal enthusiasts have promoted nuts and seeds as healthy. Well, it’s true, but also it’s not so true.
Nuts are whole foods that are unprocessed in their raw state. They have vitamins, minerals, fiber, fats, protein, and some carbohydrates. What could be wrong? Our primal ancestors ate nuts and seeds and had no problems. But, they ate them in moderation.
What’s going on? There are phytic acid, lectins, and polyunsaturated oils in nuts and seeds. And, some people end up consuming quite a few of them. In excess, nuts and seeds can be harmful.
Phytic acid
Phytic acid is the storage form of phosphorus found in many plants. Humans aren’t able to digest phytic acid, which binds to minerals (especially calcium, iron, zinc, and magnesium) in food and prevents their absorption. Phytic acid does not leach minerals that are already stored in the body; it only inhibits the absorption of minerals from food when phytic acid is present.
Phytic acid interferes with digestive enzymes including pepsin, which is needed for the breakdown of proteins in the stomach, and amylase, which is required for the breakdown of starch. Phytic acid also inhibits the enzyme trypsin, which is needed for protein digestion in the small intestine.
Lectins are a type of protein that can bind to cell membranes and are abundant in raw legumes, grains, nuts and seeds. They are commonly found on the surface of the seed coat. Lectins are resistant to human digestion and will enter the blood unchanged. They can irritate the gut lining and create inflammation.
Polyunsaturated Fats
Most nuts and seeds have high concentrations of polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs). These fats are generally chemically unstable and potentially create damage on a cellular level in the body. Polyunsaturated fats are made up of various fatty acids including omega-6 fatty acids and omega-3 fatty acids. High levels of omega-6 fatty acids are inflammatory. An excess of omega-6 fatty acid and total PUFA intake strongly contribute to today’s chronic and metabolic diseases like diabetes, heart disease and obesity. PUFAs are easily oxidized when in contact with oxygen, heat, and light. Their oxidized form creates toxic reactions with sugars and proteins in our bodies.
In addition, the omega-3 fats in nuts or seeds are not a good source of omega-3. The omega-3 fat found in plants, nuts, and seeds is alpha linolenic acid (ALA), which is difficult for the body to convert to the necessary DHA and EPA.
Solution and Problem
Soaking nuts and seeds overnight in salty water is a way to get rid of most of the phytic acid and leptins. After the nuts and seeds have soaked, they should be rinsed thoroughly. Then they could be dried or eaten while moist. However, the polyunsaturated component of nuts and seeds cannot be reduced. As a matter of fact, these fats are easily oxidized and thereby could cause cellular problems when ingested.
Here is a table of various nuts and seeds and their composition of Saturated Fats, Monosaturated Fats, Polyunsaturated Fats, and their ratio of Omega-6 Fatty Acids to Omega-3 Fatty Acids. You can see that the healthiest nut is the macadamia nut with a low polyunsaturated component and a healthy Omega-6 to Omega-3 ratio. (The ideal ratio of Omega-6 to Omega-3 fats in the human diet is between 1:1 to 3:1.)

[table_row][table_cell_head] NUT [/table_cell_head][table_cell_head] SAT. FAT [/table_cell_head][table_cell_head] MONO. FAT [/table_cell_head][table_cell_head] POLY. FAT [/table_cell_head][table_cell_head] Omega-6:Omega-3 [/table_cell_head][/table_row]

[table_row][table_cell_body] Almond [/table_cell_body][table_cell_body] 8% [/table_cell_body][table_cell_body] 66% [/table_cell_body][table_cell_body] 26% [/table_cell_body][table_cell_body] 28:1[/table_cell_body][/table_row]

[table_row][table_cell_body] Cashew [/table_cell_body][table_cell_body] 20% [/table_cell_body][table_cell_body] 60% [/table_cell_body][table_cell_body] 20% [/table_cell_body][table_cell_body] 48:1[/table_cell_body][/table_row]

[table_row][table_cell_body] Chia [/table_cell_body][table_cell_body] 11% [/table_cell_body][table_cell_body] 8% [/table_cell_body][table_cell_body] 81% [/table_cell_body][table_cell_body] 0.33:1[/table_cell_body][/table_row]

[table_row][table_cell_body] Flaxseed [/table_cell_body][table_cell_body] 9% [/table_cell_body][table_cell_body] 19% [/table_cell_body][table_cell_body] 72% [/table_cell_body][table_cell_body] 0.26:1[/table_cell_body][/table_row]

[table_row][table_cell_body] Hazelnut [/table_cell_body][table_cell_body] 7% [/table_cell_body][table_cell_body] 79% [/table_cell_body][table_cell_body] 14% [/table_cell_body][table_cell_body] 90:1[/table_cell_body][/table_row]

[table_row][table_cell_body] Macademia [/table_cell_body][table_cell_body] 17% [/table_cell_body][table_cell_body] 81% [/table_cell_body][table_cell_body] 2% [/table_cell_body][table_cell_body] 6:1[/table_cell_body][/table_row]

[table_row][table_cell_body] Peanut (not real nut) [/table_cell_body][table_cell_body] 15% [/table_cell_body][table_cell_body] 52% [/table_cell_body][table_cell_body] 33% [/table_cell_body][table_cell_body] 5,162:1[/table_cell_body][/table_row]

[table_row][table_cell_body] Pecan [/table_cell_body][table_cell_body] 9% [/table_cell_body][table_cell_body] 59% [/table_cell_body][table_cell_body] 32% [/table_cell_body][table_cell_body] 21:1[/table_cell_body][/table_row]

[table_row][table_cell_body] Pine Nut [/table_cell_body][table_cell_body] 9% [/table_cell_body][table_cell_body] 32% [/table_cell_body][table_cell_body] 59% [/table_cell_body][table_cell_body] 300:1[/table_cell_body][/table_row]

[table_row][table_cell_body] Pistachio [/table_cell_body][table_cell_body] 13% [/table_cell_body][table_cell_body] 55% [/table_cell_body][table_cell_body] 32% [/table_cell_body][table_cell_body] 52:1[/table_cell_body][/table_row]

[table_row][table_cell_body] Pumpkin [/table_cell_body][table_cell_body] 20% [/table_cell_body][table_cell_body] 32% [/table_cell_body][table_cell_body] 48% [/table_cell_body][table_cell_body] 114:1[/table_cell_body][/table_row]

[table_row][table_cell_body] Sunflower [/table_cell_body][table_cell_body] 10% [/table_cell_body][table_cell_body] 40% [/table_cell_body][table_cell_body] 50% [/table_cell_body][table_cell_body] 312:1[/table_cell_body][/table_row]

[table_row][table_cell_body] Walnut [/table_cell_body][table_cell_body] 10% [/table_cell_body][table_cell_body] 14% [/table_cell_body][table_cell_body] 76% [/table_cell_body][table_cell_body] 4:1[/table_cell_body][/table_row]

While nuts and seeds are often loaded with beneficial nutrients, most nuts and seeds should be kept to a maximum ingestion of a handful per day because:

  • Most nuts contain phytic acid that binds to minerals and blocks their absorption
  • Most nuts contain lectins that can irritate the gut lining
  • Most nuts are very high in total polyunsaturated fat and omega-6 fat, two things that should be kept to a minimum and that cannot be improved with soaking

Healthier Mouth … Healthier Lifestyle … Healthier You
Part 3 of 5

Alvin H. Danenberg, DDS Nutritional Periodontist
October 10, 2014 [printfriendly]


evolution rIn keeping with my emphasis on evolutionary lifestyles, these are the foods that were and still are critical for our bodies not only to survive but also to thrive.


Foods to Include (organic is best):

• Every time you eat – be it a meal or a snack – think of it as “a plate of food.” The types of food on that plate should be divided up as follows:

• • At least 1/2 should be non-starchy vegetables
• • Less than 1/4 should be a protein source with all of its healthy fats
• • Less than 1/4 could consist of deeply colored fruits and/or nuts and seeds and/or a starchy vegetable along with additional healthy fats


• Saturated fats that have been demonized are essential for many biological functions. We need to eat all forms of healthy fats, which also include many essential micronutrients. Healthy fats made up as much as 60% of calories of our primal ancestors’ diets. Healthy fats are found in avocados, coconut oil, olive oil, wild-caught oily fish like salmon, organ foods like liver and brain from pastured animals, butter from grass-fed cows, and fats from pastured animals. One of my favorite sources for healthy fats is salmon roe. Here is a source I use regularly.


• The micronutrients in non-starchy vegetables provide essential building blocks for our individual cells. These vegetables also provide necessary fibers for our gut and gut bacteria. A great way to “eat” your veggies is to “drink” some of them in a smoothie. Here is a link to my favorite green smoothie.


• Fermented foods like sauerkraut, kimchi, full-fat plain yogurt, full-fat plain kefir, other fermented vegetables, and kombucha (fermented tea) offer healthy bacteria that can support a healthy gut. Be sure they contain live cultures. Include these with your meals as often as you can. Here is a source for fermented vegetables. And, here is an article by Helen Sanders from Health Ambitions.


• Protein from grass-fed and grass-finished meats, wild caught fish (especially small varieties like sardines, herring, and anchovies) and shellfish, pastured chickens and their eggs, and pastured hogs contain essential amino acids, vitamins, minerals, and healthy fats that need to be included in your diet.


• Homemade bone broth offers unique nutrients for your body and especially your gut and joints. Here is my favorite recipe. If you are not going to make it on your own, here is a reliable source for pastured bone broths.


• Sea vegetables (seaweeds) are also unique because of their abundance of trace minerals. Examples are wakame, kelp, and dulse. Here is my favorite recipe for seaweed soup using bone broth as a base.


• Filtered water provides minimal toxins and necessary hydration. Recent evidence suggests that if you drink when you are thirsty, you will have sufficient water intake. Usually 6-8 cups a day should be adequate. Adding ? cup of fresh lemon juice, lime juice, or apple cider vinegar to your water during the course of a day can help prevent kidney stones. These work because their citric acid inhibits stone formation and breaks up small stones that are beginning to form.


• Nuts and seeds provide healthy nutrients, but they also contain anti-nutrients. It is best to soak all nuts and seeds overnight to remove the anti-nutrients, and then allow them to dry.


• Fruits are generally healthy, but they contain fructose and should be eaten in moderation. Their level of carbohydrates can be a concern especially if you are trying to lose weight. The best choices are all berries (like strawberries, blueberries, blackberries, raspberries).


• Herbs and spices offer many nutrients even when used in small quantities. Not only do these make food tastier, they also are very healthy. Consider chili peppers, cocoa, sage, garlic, thyme, cinnamon, rosemary, turmeric, parsley, and oregano to name a few.


Tomorrow I will suggest some supplements that you may want to include in your diet. I do not believe in supplements usually because our bodies were designed to be nourished from nutrient-dense whole foods found in nature – not packaged substitutes. However, the ones I recommend are unlike the packaged nutritional supplements with which you may be familiar.





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Don’t Confuse Me with the Facts

evolution rA friend of mine is an avid workout guy – at least an hour a day, 5 days a week. He also eats non-fat foods and lots of whole grain cereals and grain products. He tells me he is eating healthy. I recently told him about ancestral nutrition, effective exercise, and their relationship to overall health. He not only blew me off, but he was angry that I tried to confuse him. In my opinion, he actually was upset because I gave him information that conflicted with his personal beliefs and challenged who he really is. I could only say I was sorry – sorry that he wouldn’t consider my point of view.
There is much evidence-based research today that has created a path for the discerning person to follow to regain and maintain the health that the human body was designed to possess. My friend was not that person, but are you that discerning person? If yes, then the path starts with you making a decision to change your life – to change your health.
Some people need a personal tipping point like a stroke or a heart attack to make a change. Some people need a love-of-their-life like the birth of a granddaughter or a grandson to institute a change. Some people are motivated after they get a new job or move into a new home. Some people only need information that they never knew existed. Which discerning person are you?
Here is some conventional wisdom that I have found in my personal pursuit of health that requires further consideration:
• Fat makes you fat
Consider this: Carbohydrates make you fat because of excessive insulin production. Healthy fats satisfy your hunger and provide fuel. Ingested fat will not become storage fat unless insulin is excessive from too many carbs.
• Running 5 miles a day is good heart exercise
Consider this: Chronic exercise produces oxidative stress, is unhealthy for the cardiovascular system, and discourages fat burning. Lifting heavy things a couple of times a week and sprinting once a week are much healthier for your heart as well as your waistline and need only take 10-20 minutes each. In addition, a couple of hours of aerobic exercise spaced out during the week and physical non-exercise movement throughout each day will round out a healthy routine.
• Breakfast is the healthiest meal of the day
Consider this: The most important time to eat is when you are hungry. If your hormones are in balance, you may actually not need to eat until noon or later. When you do eat, each meal conceptually should be a plate of food partitioned like this: at least half of the plate should include non-starchy veggies either raw or sautéed in healthy fat; a quarter of the plate should be some type of free-range or wild-caught protein including their natural fats; and the last quarter could be made up of some of these – some nuts or seeds, deeply colored fruit (like berries or citrus), a small starchy vegetable.
• Whole grains have plenty of nutrients
Consider this: Grains contain elements that irritate the gut and interfere with normal absorption of necessary minerals. Grains were only introduced into the human diet about 10,000 years ago, and the human gut never evolved to digest them properly. For 2.5 million years before grains were introduced, all the necessary nutrients the body needed were provided by eating animals from head to tail, vegetables, fruits, nuts, and seeds.
• Vegetable oils are healthy
Consider this: Vegetable oils are mostly inflammatory and are chemically unstable. When they are introduced into the body, they potentially create serious health problems. In addition, chemically altered trans fats and partially hydrogenated fats are toxic to the body. Saturated fats from coconut oil, avocados, animals that are pastured and/or allowed to eat their natural diet, and butter from grass-fed cows are necessary for healthy cell function.
• Artificial sweeteners are good for you and help you lose weight
Consider this: Artificial sweeteners are toxic to the body. In addition, the brain senses the sweetness of these sweeteners and stimulates insulin production.
• Eggs are bad for your heart
Consider this: Free-range eggs provide excellent nutrition for the body unless you are allergic to eggs. Some people who have reactions to convention eggs do not have problems with pastured eggs. The cholesterol in pastured eggs is not a problem – especially if the egg yolk is eaten soft rather than scrambled or hard-boiled.
• If your stomach does not hurt, you don’t have gut problems
Consider this: Many diseases begin when the intestinal lining becomes permeable (called a leaky gut), and stuff that should never enter the blood system starts invading. A person does not have to have digestive symptoms like gas or pain or constipation or diarrhea to have a leaky gut. But, before other disease manifestations can be resolved, the gut must be made healthy.