Dr. Al Danenberg ● Nutritional Periodontist
March 9, 2019
To my amazement, I have become the target of vitriol. Harsh and cruel lashing out. I have been called “stupid” and “ignorant”. My writings have been branded “rubbish”. And all this because I described the way I eat to stay healthy. Here is a link to my article that started this labeling by complete strangers: https://drdanenberg.staging.wpengine.com/i-eat-meat/
I shouldn’t be surprised. We live in a world where heroes are denigrated, and thugs are lauded. We exist in a world where gun violence is on the rise and people are scorned because of their color, ethnicity, or their station in life. Our social fabric is allowing prominent people to indulge in criminal behavior with impunity. Therefore, I shouldn’t be shocked by some people throwing verbal daggers at me because I say things they don’t like.
But I am surprised, and I am shocked.
What happened to the days when a person’s experience and opinions presented an opportunity to learn? I realize as a society we are bombarded with so much information, misinformation, and fake news. These might become overwhelming. But we still are able to filter, focus, and accept what makes sense. And we still have the ability to reject what does not make sense. In the United States, we are not forced or coerced into habits and actions in which we don’t believe are in our best interest. At least this is true for the most part. We are not living in a dictatorship where we must succumb or suffer the ruthless consequences.
Source of Vitriol
Amazingly, this hatred is coming from within the group that views healthy eating as a priority. It is not coming from those who eat the Standard American Diet, which is grossly unhealthy and has directly influenced the burgeoning levels of chronic disease in the US.
Followers of a group that proposes various methods and diets to live a heathy life should be rallying around the common causes of health. These educated people should be sharing information, debating the methods that work or don’t work for them, and researching new science that provides further understanding about the inner workings of the human body. If we have the power, our common goal should be to change the quality of life for ourselves, our families, and humankind. To dismiss the thoughts of a member of this health group with hateful and slanderous remarks makes no sense to me.
I Am Who I Am
Those who know me, know that I am a periodontist – a dental specialist who treats various forms of mouth disease and trauma that affect structures surrounding and supporting the teeth. Clinically, I have been treating patients for 44 years. I incorporate the importance of diet, environment, and lifestyle into the way I treat my patients. I base my knowledge on professional training, medical research, and years of experience.
Today, I appreciate the numerous factors that go into what makes us healthy or unhealthy. I also realize that I don’t know everything – far from it. But I teach an awareness that biological and nutritional factors play supportive and critical roles in the health of the entire body, which obviously includes the mouth.
I am open to any and all discussions of the scientific facts and anecdotal stories surrounding health. I might disagree with some people, but I never would call a colleague or patient “stupid” or “ignorant”. I would never brand their opinions as “rubbish”.
I share my writings with anyone who wants to learn my thoughts, and I invite constructive criticism. I cite published scientific articles in peer-reviewed medical journals to support my thoughts.
If you would like to have PDFs of any of these writings at no cost, get in touch with me. This is my way of “giving back” and “paying it forward”. Just send your request to my email: Dr.Danenberg@iCloud.com.
I am now done with my rant.
Well said. I enjoy your blog. Never mind the knowitalls and there are a lot lately. I get similar comments when I react to something. You can’t save all 🙂
Dr. D, I’m sorry you have been bombarded with vicious attacks for making your own decisions on your health. It’s your journey. It is well thought out, and I hope the outcome will help other people find their way through the confusion of serious illness and treatment options. Those on the attack are playground bullies, nothing more. I’d suggest they mind their own business. I’m glad you are calling them out.
Continued prayers for you and your family.
I love your blog. I love that you’re emphasizing quality of life and I love that you’re a voice for the importance of nutrition. Thank you for sharing your journey.
People who are closed minded, are not worthy of our time or thoughts.
Their hearts cannot be changed by our words, care, empathy, or even love.
This was a hard lesson for open hearted persons such as myself (and obviously you as well), but one I’ve had to learn to protect myself (sad isn’t it).
But after my own battle with my health, I realized I needed to become a bit selfish.
Dr. D, I encourage you to be a bit selfish, and purge the damage these closed minded individuals have created, so you are able to continue on your healing journey without that negativity lurking in your heart.
I’ve been following you, and I’ve purchased and read your book (among many others), and I look forward to a new book from you once your health has stabilized (remission?), with a detailed account of your journey into, through, and out of this health crisis.
Please continue to be there for those of us who do want to learn!
With deep respect
Al, you know you’re making headway when the response becomes shrill. You’re helping so many people—and just when they (and we) need it most.
Dr Al, I appreciate your ‘positive, considered response’ to the mindless, negative ‘reactions’ to postings of your challenging journey…your essence. Brings to mind question of their motivations. Keep on….more of us are ‘with’ you.
Just want you to know I’m a follower of yours and you inspire me. It’s sad that you are a target, and I suspect it comes partly from the fact that people feel that the anonymoty of the internet allows them to rant and spew. Please stay strong and go forth. You are an amazing person.
P.S. I love your cashew nut bread!
Dear Dr Danenberg, Thank you for your post. I agree with the comments above, from people smarter with words than I am. Best wishes from far away.
There is no one size diet that fits all! Instead of seeking to understand why someone would choose to eat meat or dairy (for instance), some folks (who can hide behind anonymity online) take the ‘my way and beliefs are the only right ones’ approach and attack. Keep on doing what’s right for you! It’s working!!
This reaction is not surprising at all. Many of us who choose a Ketogenic diet are the victims of garbage comments routinely. They do not ask why you are doing it, they merely call you names, and fail to consider a medical condition may be the reason for Keto. I am never surprised when yet another “medical study” comes out with headlines that are not proven in the story, may not even be remotely related to the story, but they got you to read it….or they may have someone using the headlines as fact, when they never read the story.
Please don’t let the criticism of those who don’t have critical thinking skills discourage you. It seems that the ability to think scientifically and independently isn’t valued (especially by those who only “parrot” current mainstream views). Obviously, understanding evolves with new information, discovered by those who can think outside the box.
You certainly cite a wealth of studies, as well as personal experience, with any information you’ve shared. Your personal health crises have encouraged you to problem-solve for those conditions, both decades past through the present. You must’ve treated several thousand patients in your career as a periodontist.
I very much appreciate your information! I have practiced dentistry for almost twenty-five years, in a small, solo “boutique” general practice, as well as six years of part-time public health dentistry (working six days a week until age 30, to juggle both). Since I perform all the clinical care for my patients, including the hygiene/periodontal care, I know them very well. Of course, the mouth reflects what is happening in the rest of the body, so I try to inform my patients about new health data. I have advised a handful of patients previously undiagnosed with diabetes that their sudden, aggressive root caries (gingival crevicular fluids reflecting high blood sugar), coupled with excess weight carried around the waistline, lifestyle and dietary factors, that they likely are diabetic…they need to have their A1C checked for a diabetes diagnosis.
After verification of diabetes, and the patient changes his or her diet, not only the caries improve, but also the oral tissues and periodontal health, followed by overall health improvements. I joke with them that their compliance with eating fewer carbohydrates will reward them with fewer needs in the dental arena—fewer “cavities” and better “gums!”
I’d take notice when a couple in their nineties would come in, reporting their medical updates and medications, their lifestyles and habits; from a longevity perspective, they’re doing something right! One gentleman, about ninety-three mused, “My wife’s cholesterol is twice what mine is, even with medicine, while I eat steak and eggs for breakfast, and she eats only “birdseed!”
I’d noticed that patients who consumed snacks such as nuts and “jerky” were leaner and healthier than their carbohydrate-consuming peers.
Personally, I was consuming every whole wheat product I could find, only getting heavier and having worse GI problems all the while. Conversely, I had an assistant who seemed to live on meat and cheese alone, having to be encouraged to eat greens, who was lean and glowing.
A patient with Celiac disease actually suggested to me that I was likely gluten intolerant. It took me a few months to figure out all of the hidden sources of gluten, such as maltodextrin, before I felt a drastic difference. This occurred only five years ago. A year later, it was like someone “flipped a switch” in my son’s GI health—he became gluten intolerant seemingly overnight. The elimination diet quickly confirmed our educated guess. Members of his paternal side of the family also had previously been diagnosed as gluten intolerant, so he didn’t stand a chance.
I am personally acquainted with a brilliant, recently retired allergist. She’d first visited my office in 1994, then myself in hers, when I kept developing more allergies as an adult. My first food allergies surfaced in the mid-to-late 1980s, just after the genetic modification of wheat. I developed fruit allergies and a preservative allergy (thimerasol—in the contact lens products then made my scleras blood-red and eyes swollen—also timed nearly simultaneously with my first amalgam restoration) in my teens. I kept having additional immune issues in adulthood, particularly in the months following an immunization update at age thirty, which contained the preservative to which I had been diagnosed as allergic; the medical office obviously neither referenced what thimerasol was, nor what their vaccinations contained, prior to injecting me. I discovered it only in hindsight, after weeks of facial and migratory joint swelling, weeks of sinus drainage, ultimately ending in walking pneumonia, new allergies simultaneously developing (mold, latex), and finally weeks of dosing with steroids to calm the hyperactive immune system. I’d taken “rounds” of antibiotics, because the primary care medical doctor thought the primary cause must be infection. Once I had the walking pneumonia diagnosis, I did have a fever.
I’m sure it wasn’t helpful that I was breaking down my good gut flora tens of times daily at work with surgical soaps. I also seldom had any vitamin D exposure; long hours at work, short lunches, and little vacation time, combined by residing where we seasonally only have a handful of guaranteed sunny months. I couldn’t afford to take much “sick time,” as head of household and a solo practice owner with plenty of overhead expenses.
Receiving a dental polish with fluoride is my patients’ choice at my practice—we have several polish offerings. We only use prescription-level fluoride judiciously; I don’t hesitate when a patient is in hospice care, or when quality of life is being seriously reduced by out-of-control caries, when the patient hasn’t or can’t control the dietary factors, or hasn’t improved their oral microbial flora. The bottom line is that since I haven’t participated or been made aware of a controlled, VERY long-term study, I’m not going to dose every preschool-aged child at tens of thousands of parts per million of fluoride varnish. Maybe a study exists that demonstrates very long-term safety of prescription fluoride exposure levels, and I’m not aware of it. I explain to the patients that our community fluoridation at 0.7 ppm is effective in assisting the standard American diet and caries prevention. At home, we personally have used only Brita purification to remove large contaminants such as lead.
Dr. Danenberg, your information has been extremely relevant to my life and my family’s life. Your additional perspective as a dentist and specialist is crucial and particularly applicable to my life.
As a side note, I recently accompanied my son’s high school band on a trip to Florida. We drove separately from the band due to my son’s food intolerances and allergies, and we left a few days before the others to see a few things on my “bucket list.” This was the first time I’d traveled at the Christmas/winter/New Year’s holiday in my twenty-five year’s in practice. We stopped at The Biltmore Estate, a grave of a Revolutionary War Captain who is my son’s paternal sixth-great-Grandfather in rural South Carolina, Charleston, and Hilton Head, all in a few days. We drove through Bluffton, and in our rush, I didn’t remember to look for your practice. I’d previously searched the location on an electronic map, but just had that “why does this sound familiar” moment on our rush to get to the marching band’s destination. Ugh—my loss! It sounds like a wonderful place that incorporates everything you’ve researched in your lifetime!
I’m not as educated as you are, but in my “spare time” when not treating patients, cooking for our special diet, or parenting, I intend to follow your lead with my journey, in lifestyle and professionally.
I am grateful that you share, I’m re-reading your book, and want to encourage you to continue to think outside the box in your own health journey to wellness! Thank you, and remember that any groundbreaking information creates controversy!
Meat is part of our culinary tradition and people are fortunate they have a choice whether to include it in their dietary style or not. All the best.
People want to force feed their lifestyles,including their diets onto everyone and become militantly hostile when they aren’t accepted or someone just questions their opinion which they believe is fact. They must not know that a “one size fits all” approach in that arena of life us actually a form of bigotry. Decorum is out the window and so is the unbiased analysis of scientific study (in many cases). These folks don’t want to get it,and that is the sad part. You are a scientist who has a hypothesis and tests it, then, with the gathered information, forms a proper theory. This is much different than going at things based on emotion first, then some science thrown in for good measure. Please keep doing what you’re doing, as I believe(as a fellow scientist), your method will be proven correct. As Jesus said, you will be rejected even in your own house, but have faith that I have won the world for you and you will triumph over all! Keep up the good fight, for your reward will be great in heaven!!!