Alvin H. Danenberg, DDS ● Nutritional Periodontist
February 12, 2018
Healthy foods create a healthy mouth; unhealthy foods create an unhealthy mouth.
“Food is medicine”. This is not a new catchphrase. More than 2,400 years ago, Hippocrates was reported to have said, “Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food”. But today, modern foods are far different than the foods our primal ancestors ate.
Over-processing of foods and the addition of chemical preservatives, thickeners, emulsifiers, antibacterial agents, insecticides, fertilizers, weed killers, and genetically modified species of plants have confused our body. These “foods” have confused our digestive systems, our natural microbiome, and our genetic code – all of which direct our cellular function. Along with unhealthy changes in our food sources, other toxic substances in our environment have resulted in various types of chronic diseases. I have described these changes in some of my articles, which include links to peer-reviewed medical articles: (HERE, HERE, HERE, HERE)
Nutritious Food is Medicine; Over-Processed Food is Poison.
Ancient skeletons suggest that gum diseases and tooth decay were rare problems among our primal ancestors. Today, gum diseases and tooth decay are rare problems for the few primal societies that are still in existence in remote parts of the world.
Vegetables, fruits, nuts, and seeds that are grown in mineral-rich soils and are not contaminated with chemicals and genetic modification are healthy. They must be consumed in abundance. Animals, which are raised humanely in their natural environments and are allowed to eat the foods that their bodies were designed to digest and absorb, also are healthy and necessary for human cellular function. Although this statement is contested, there have been no vegan societies in history that have successfully lived without chronic diseases.
What I have written about nutrition is not just anecdotal. My statements are based on research studies on humans. For example, Dr. Baumgartner and Dr. Woelber have published studies in peer-reviewed journals relating food to dental health. Specifically, these two papers show how real foods with minimal processing can reverse and possible prevent dental diseases.
Specific Healthy Foods
Here are some healthy nutrients that support a healthy mouth, along with examples of foods which contain them:
- Omega-3 fatty acids, DHA, and EPA (ex. wild-caught seafood like salmon, herring, sardines, anchovies, shellfish);
- Vitamin C (ex. citrus fruits, dark leafy green vegetables, bell peppers, broccoli);
- Vitamin D (ex. cod liver oil, herring, rainbow trout, pastured eggs, wild caught salmon, shitake mushrooms);
- Antioxidants (ex. dark chocolate, various types of berries)
- Fiber (ex. fruits, vegetables)
Specific Damaging Foods
Here is a list of foods that can damage the mouth resulting in dental diseases:
- Free-sugars, which allow unhealthy bacteria to grow in the gut as well as the mouth. These pathogenic bacteria can produce acid levels below pH 5.5 around the tooth surface, causing tooth demineralization. Free-sugars also encourage pathogenic bacteria to overgrow and create gum disease.,
- Grain products, which have chemicals (called phytates) that bind to nutrients in the saliva and tooth surface that can increase the potential for demineralization of the tooth surface., They also contain lectins and other proteins that can cause an increase in pathogenic bacteria in the gut, irritation to the gut lining, and chronic inflammation throughout the body. All these changes can compromise the body’s immune system and the health of the mouth.
- Sodas, which are very acidic – well below a pH of 5.5. Sugar-loaded sodas feed cariogenic bacteria with free-sugars. Sugar-free sodas contain artificial sweeteners, which can irritate the gut and create pathogenic types of bacteria.
So, What is the Bottom Line?
If your goal is to help your mouth stay healthy, follow my nutritional suggestions:
- Consume foods that are organic and are unprocessed or minimally processed.
- The composition of every meal should include more than 50% of non-starchy vegetables and healthy fats; less than 25% of animal proteins and healthy fats; and less than 25% of a selection of nuts, seeds, fruits, or starchy vegetables.
- Most importantly, avoid foods and chemicals that are toxic to the human body.