Dr. Al Danenberg ● Nutritional Periodontist
May 9, 2021
Our society is sick. It’s not our genes. It’s something else.
Years ago, my son owned a 125-gallon saltwater aquarium. It was a visual beauty. There were live plants and beautiful sea anemones living at the bottom of the tank. It also was home to a magnificent Lionfish, a majestic Emperor Angelfish, and a stunning Clown Triggerfish. The salt concentration, pH, electrolytes, and water temperature were meticulously maintained. My son provided the recommended processed foods for these animals. And for years, these fish thrived and gave us pleasure.
One day, it seemed that the anemones were getting weak. Eventually they died. Then the Clown Triggerfish began to succumb to something. Sadly, all the fish became ill and died over the course of 3-4 months.
There was nothing inherently wrong with each of these living creatures. Their genetics did not cause them to perish prematurely. Something happened to their environment – something polluted their sea. They began to live in a sea, which was becoming polluted ever so slowly.
Sadly, we had no idea the aquarium was becoming a toxic environment. We didn’t know what we didn’t know.
Our Polluted Sea
Today, humans are getting sick. It’s not a defect in the genetic makeup of humans. It’s the epigenetics – the diet and lifestyle choices – that are our nemeses. This is the sea in which we swim. And our species is getting sicker and sicker with incurable, chronic, debilitating diseases that are frequently blamed on our genetics. We are living in a polluted sea created by forces that are surreptitiously accumulating in our body. Most of us just don’t recognize the changes.
The CDC has published data suggesting that 60% of the US population has at least one chronic disease. And that 70% of all deaths are a result of a chronic disease. In addition, at least 72% of our society is overweight or obese. These are horrendous numbers. But from my observations, I think these stats grossly underreport the real facts.
None of these statistics were an issue with our primal ancestors. And the few primal societies alive in the world today do not experience chronic disease like this.
During human evolution, our species was living in a very dangerous world. But their metaphorical sea was not polluted.
It’s true their lives were hard. They had their hands full with trying to stay alive and avoiding rival tribes or beasts of prey. Broken bones and incurable infections would cause many deaths in those days. Childbirth and child rearing was at best precarious. Our primal ancestors had to deal with many challenges, which were difficult and sometimes impossible to overcome.
But they lived without the environmental pollution and damaged nutrition that modern man is living with today.
I want to show you a picture of a healthy lower jawbone from 300,000 years ago. It is reportedly the oldest jaw remains of our Homo Sapiens species.
The jawbone is intact with no signs of periodontal disease. All 16 of the lower teeth are in place with no decay. There is evidence of severe wear from chewing. But if you look closely at the tips of the blue arrows, there is “stuff” between the teeth at the bone level that is calcified dental plaque or tarter. These are the remnants of healthy bacteria around the teeth that were protecting the area where the teeth pierced the gum tissues and were embedded in sterile bone. These bacteria were in a state of balance creating no disease whatsoever.
Many jaw remains from 20,000 – 10,000 years ago show similar healthy jawbones, healthy teeth, and tartar around the teeth. But this is not the case for today’s population.
As a periodontist, I am intimately involved with the dental health of my patients. A study in 2010 suggested that 93.9% of our population has some form of gum inflammation or bleeding. And the World Health Organization has stated that over 92% of the population has had some type of tooth decay. These percentages are way beyond pandemic or epidemic proportions. These numbers should be screaming out to all of us that our sea is polluted, and we are succumbing.
It is obvious to me that things happened to the sea in which modern-day humans are swimming.
Many food choices we make are devoid of necessary nutrients and are not healthy to our garden of gut bacteria. Different irritants from our environment get into our food, our guts, and our individual cells affecting every cell in our body. As our guts become unhealthy, our immune system suffers. Toxic elements from our gut can pour into the blood system through the gut lining, which breaks down and is called a “leaky gut”. Inflammation begins to course through the entire body affecting all cells and organ systems – including the mouth. Chronic diseases and autoimmune diseases begin to manifest. Gum disease and tooth decay become prevalent.
Ever so slightly, our polluted sea is damaging our bodies – often to the point of no return.
The intricate human machine, which has thrived over 2.5 million years of evolution, begins to malfunction slowly. As this happens, we have no idea that we are declining in health.
We were oblivious, and most of us are still oblivious.
Those who realized the change were unable or unwilling to understand the real causes. Our medical professions and the pharmaceutical companies scrambled to create protocols to treat the symptoms. The origins of these chronic diseases were never uncovered or explored.
The reality is that significant profits could be made from treatment; relatively little money could be made from prevention. Our polluted sea is perpetuated today by the incentives for financial gain.
But now, we must learn from our past errors and correct the problems. We must purify the sea in which we live. Those who can connect the dots will discover the real causes of illness today. Those who are proactive will be able to make appropriate changes.
Getting healthy should not be an entrepreneur’s dream; it should be a health-preserving strategy.
In Part 2 next week, I’m going to offer my Solutions for our Polluted Sea.
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