I remember going to the Smithsonian Institute in Washington DC as a child. My favorite exhibits were the dinosaurs. I was in awe with the age of these beasts. Skeletons told a fascinating story to me as a child.
Today, skeletons still tell the story.
Human evolution dates back about 2.5 million years. During that period of time, our bodies slowly adapted to our environment and the foods that were available to us for nutrition. Our bodies developed a method of using nutrients for our growth and survival. It took 2.5 million years for our cells and organs to slowly evolve.
Human skeletal remains recently have been discovered in Spain dating back about 400,000 years. Today, DNA testing can actually look at dental remains and determine what types of bacteria existed in the mouths of these people. We now can determine how healthy our evolutionary ancestors were. Science is amazing!
The DNA taken from teeth of skeletons dating about 20,000 to 10,000 years ago showed bacteria that were not virulent. In other words, our primal ancestors rarely demonstrated tooth decay or gum disease. Then, from about 10,000 years ago (when grains were introduced into our diets) until about 150 years ago, the DNA became unhealthy, and decay and gum disease began to become the norm. Then, 150 years ago (when flour and sugar became a staple of our diets) the bacteria went crazy causing lots of decay and gum disease.
What was happening was the good gut bacteria that our species developed during 2.5 million years of evolution slowly began to change to unhealthy types because of the insult from these unnatural foods. Unfriendly bacteria began to breakdown our intestinal cells. Food particles and bacteria that were never supposed to leak into our blood system began invading our bodies. Today, our bodies have not had time to evolve to compensate for these rapid insults. Degenerative diseases that were never part of the human experience began to emerge.
Today, genetically modified foods that never have been tested over time in humans also have negatively affected our gut bacteria. In addition, toxic additives in processed foods have been accumulating in our bodies contributing to our problems. We are living longer with decreasing quality of life. Unhealthy gut bacteria and associated gut disorders have been implicated in cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, Alzheimer’s, ADHD in children, gastrointestinal diseases, allergies, autoimmune diseases, and on and on. And, our mouths are paying the price.
So what can we do today to get ourselves back in shape? We need to look at evolution and how our bodies were designed to function and thrive. We must work in concert with the needs of our bodies.
From a dental standpoint, brushing and flossing are important, but healthy food choices and friendly gut bacteria are more important. We should eat the foods that give us nutrition and not destroy our bodily systems. We need to repopulate our gut bacteria with friendly types that can ward off disease and maintain a healthy intestinal environment.
We also need to occasionally exercise our muscles hard, to sleep 7-8 hours a night, and to deal with life’s stresses more effectively. But, that is another discussion for another time.