Alvin H. Danenberg, DDS • Nutritional Periodontist
July 14, 2016
It is 2016, and I am 69 years old. I am healthier today than I have ever been. But, ten years ago I could have died.
In 2006, I was in my living room at home. I was holding a laptop computer in my hands when I got a shock from the computer that travelled up my arm.
It turned out that it wasn’t a shock from my computer after all; it was a TIA. A transient ischemic attack (TIA) is frequently a warning sign of an impending stroke. I had no idea what it was at the time, so I dismissed it as just a “shock” from my computer.
Seven days later, on a Saturday morning, my 6-year old grandson was sleeping in our bed. He and his family were in transition from where we all lived in Charleston, SC to their new home in Portland, OR. When I awoke that morning, I rolled over in bed and tried to ask my grandson, “Do you want to go out for breakfast?” But, the words would not come out of my mouth. I only uttered some garbled sounds.
I thought I must have been sleeping with my mouth open, and my throat must have gotten dry. So, I got up, went to the bathroom, and drank some water. I felt fine. I returned to the bedroom and proceeded to ask my grandson the same question. No words came out. I could not utter intelligible words. I panicked.
My wife, whom I woke during this attempt to communicate with my grandson, realized what was happening. Although I felt great, I could not speak. I actually went back to the bathroom to take a shower, and my wife drove me to the hospital.
Still unable to speak, the ER personnel also knew what was happening. They took my blood pressure, which was off the charts. I had a stroke. I was admitted to the hospital and remained there for a week.
My doctors were great. They saved my life. They put me on 7 different medicines, and they told me that I would have to take them for the rest of my life.
About 2 months later, I was able to return to my dental practice. However, taking 7 medicines that treated the manifestations of my stroke was not an answer I could accept. I needed answers about what caused my problems in the first place. I wanted to make personal changes, but I needed to know what to do.
Answers to my basic question, “What caused my problems?”, were not easy to dig up. From 2006 until 2013, I attempted to get answers to my straightforward question. The answers were not forthcoming from my physicians. Although they saved my life, they did not know how to answer my question. They didn’t know what they didn’t know. Their answers did not address my underlying causes. They simply reiterated that I needed to take my medicines and to eat a healthy diet. Their idea of a healthy diet, I later learned, was hardly a healthy diet. It wasn’t until 2013 that I learned what would change my life forever.
In 2013, I was fortunate to find a 5-day continuing education course that addressed nutrition for healthcare professionals. Interestingly, this course was totally different than anything I had experienced until then. This program was based on ancestral nutrition – the diet and lifestyle that sustained our primal ancestors for 2.5 million years. The logic and biology that I learned made more sense to me in those 5 days than anything I tried to learn the previous 7 years after my stroke. I began to learn in just 5 days that almost everything I was doing for myself was wrong. What an epiphany!
Fast-forward the next 3-plus years of intense self-education until now. By changing my diet and lifestyle in 2013, I changed my life. My blood chemistries for the first time began to improve. Instead of taking the original 7 medications, I am now only on 2. I feel great. I have stamina. I have lost over 30 pounds since 2013. In my mind, I have become the poster boy for a Primal Lifestyle and Diet at the age of 69.
What does a Primal Lifestyle and Diet look like for me?
I eat nutrient-dense, anti-inflammatory foods. I do not eat any processed foods. I primarily eat organically grown foods. All my animal protein is either pastured or wild caught. I emphasize healthy fats. I eat moderate amounts of protein and low-to-moderate healthy carbohydrates. I enjoy organ meats, seaweed, fermented foods, soaked nuts and seeds, and homemade bone broth.
As for lifestyle, I engage in an exercise program of high intensity interval training once a week for 8 minutes or so, bodyweight strength training twice a week for 10 minutes or so, and some aerobic fun cycling 2 days a week. I try to walk about 10,000 steps a day, to sleep 7-8 hours a night, and to keep my cool as far as stress is concerned. Candidly, I need a lot of work on controlling how I deal with external stresses. Let it be known, I am a work in progress.
So, today I know what really matters for a healthy life going forward. Cheating on my diet is not a phrase in my vocabulary. I pursue living the healthiest and highest-quality life I can. I want to shout out to the world what I know.
I incorporate my newfound knowledge with the treatment I provide my patients who have gum disease. I often ask my patients, “If you knew a train were coming at you, would you get off the tracks?” Unfortunately, only about 5% of my patients are interested in making necessary lifestyle changes. But, if I only could make a difference for one patient, I would have succeeded. That patient could tell another friend, who could then pass it on. It’s the concept of exponential change. I liken it to a video going viral on YouTube.
Have I resonated with you? If so, let one person know. Then, let the process begin!