Gum Disease? Diabetes?

Alvin H. Danenberg, DDS     January 17, 2016   [printfriendly]


Gum Disease? Diabetes?Type 2 diabetes is growing in the US. In 2014, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that 29.1 million people (or 9.3% of the US population) had diabetes. Of those, 21.0 million were diagnosed, but 8.1 million had diabetes yet didn’t know it. That meant that 27.8% of people with diabetes were walking around undiagnosed with this debilitating and life-threatening disease.


Another alarming statistic is that 94% of the US population has some form of gum disease, but about 47% of US adults have advanced gum disease that is destroying their jawbone and making its way into the bloodstream.


Those with type 2 diabetes are unfortunately confronted not only with the damaging effects of their diabetes, but also with the destructive path of advanced gum disease (or periodontitis). HERE. HERE. HERE. The prevalence of advanced gum disease in diabetics is significantly higher than in those without diabetes. HERE. HERE.


Type 2 diabetes is generally a chronic disease that is related to diet and lifestyle. A Paleo diet and lifestyle can go a long way in either possibly reducing the complications of this disease or possibly eliminating it and restoring the body to health. HERE. HERE. HERE.


For those with type 2 diabetes and advancing gum disease, a recent study published in 2015 showed that a combination of conservative gum treatment and a specific dietary nutrient provided healthier results than conservative gum treatment alone. The infection of gum disease improved and other markers of diabetes including hemoglobin A1c improved.


In this study, conservative gum treatment consisted of a deep cleaning under the gum tissues to remove tartar, which was acting like a splinter causing irritation and inflammation. The specific antioxidant supplement was lycopene, which is abundant in foods like guava, watermelon, and tomatoes. Participants in this study were given capsules of lycopene to take daily for 8 weeks.


My personal research has convinced me that nutrients like lycopene consumed in their natural food sources will enhance cell function and prevent chronic diseases better than consuming man-made or prepared supplements. That is one reason I prefer a Paleo diet as my go-to way of eating. A Paleo diet includes various plant-based foods that are rich in the natural antioxidants that support healthy blood sugar as well as reduce the chronic inflammation of gum disease.


If you have gum disease and diabetes, you need to be proactive. Schedule an evaluation with your dentist or periodontist and at least have a thorough deep cleaning performed to remove disease-producing tartar. Also, begin a Paleo diet with an emphasis in vegetables and fruits that have high levels of lycopene.


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Science Gives Green Light to Low Carb

evolution rDiabetes is a huge problem in the US. The 2014 National Diabetes Statistics Report identified that this disease affects 29.1 million people in the US (9.3% of the population), and it is estimated that 86 million adults have prediabetes (1 out of every 3 adults). In contrast, today’s hunter-gatherer societies dispersed worldwide rarely experience degenerative diseases like type 2 diabetes.
Type 2 diabetes just doesn’t happen overnight. First, there are years of nutritional incongruities. Then there are years of progressive clinical manifestations of metabolic syndrome. Eventually, there is a diagnosis of type 2 diabetes and later possibly a diagnosis of cardiovascular disease.
The manifestations of metabolic syndrome, which are frequently precursors to type 2 diabetes, include:

  • High blood pressure
  • Increased triglycerides
  • Decreased HDL cholesterol
  • Increased visceral fat around the waist
  • Increased fasting blood glucose

Richard Feinman and 25 additional authors wrote a critical review citing evidence of the benefits of a low-carbohydrate diet on Type 2 diabetes and various metabolic syndrome markers. It was published in Nutrition on January 31, 2015. In this article, the authors summarized 12 points of evidence that strongly support the health benefits of a low carbohydrate diet.
The article points out that a low carbohydrate diet would consist of less than 130 grams of carbohydrates per day, which should translate to less than 26% of the total energy (calories) consumed in a day. In 2000, the average daily consumption of carbohydrates was 330 grams for men and 230 grams for women.
A primal or Paleo diet is a lifestyle of eating nutrient-dense foods. It could be a low-carbohydrate diet if fruits, nuts, and starchy vegetables were consumed in limited quantities.
Here is my summary of the article’s pertinent points that translates to an overall healthier body:

  • Reducing dietary carbohydrates is the best way to decrease blood glucose levels.
  • There has never been any other dietary intervention for weight loss that has been superior to reducing dietary carbohydrates.
  • Replacing carbohydrates with protein in a meal is generally helpful with the exception of those people with existing kidney disease.
  • Healthy fats that are consumed from food do not increase the risk of cardiovascular disease.
  • Plasma saturated fatty acids, which contribute to cardiovascular disease and insulin resistance, are increased with consumption of carbohydrates. Healthy fats in food consumed by humans do not contribute to unhealthy levels of saturated fatty acids in their plasma.
  • Reducing dietary carbohydrates will reduce serum levels of triglycerides, increase healthy levels of HDL cholesterol, and improve all factors of metabolic syndrome.
  • There have never been human studies that have shown that lowering carbohydrates will have significant negative side effects.

A lifestyle that incorporates a low-carb eating plan is not just for type 2 diabetics. It is a healthy plan for the entire family, for the entire body, and for the entire mouth. I encourage you to read this review paper where you also will find all the references for the various studies to support the authors’ statements.