Dr. Al Danenberg ● Nutritional Periodontist
January 27, 2020
Well, you definitely should not be devouring an egg sandwiched between processed cheese on a muffin, drinking a glass of orange juice, and finishing with a donut for breakfast. And then sipping on a 20-ounce Venti of coffee loaded with sugar to get your day started. This “energy breakfast” is not healthy at all. On the contrary, it’s practically all carbs and added sugars that will damage your gut bacteria, compromise your immune system, and create chronic systemic inflammation. And ultimately, this “food” would change the bacteria and acid levels in your mouth to start the ball rolling in the direction of gum disease and tooth decay.
So, what should you do about breakfast? What about the rest of your day? What are better choices for your mouth? Should you just think about removing bad stuff, or should you replace bad choices with appetizing substitutes, which will continue to satisfy you? Let’s get into this discussion.
First, take a deep breath. You could ease into any dietary changes that may interest you. You don’t need to jump all in at once with both feet. Take your time and make changes appropriate for your personality, comfortable for you family, and eventually effective to get you to your end goal. If you seem to get off track, that’s also OK. Just review what you want to accomplish; get back to your program; and proceed at your own pace once again.
My Patients’ Nutrition
When patients come to me interested in proper nutrition and wanting to make changes in what they have been doing, I provide a program to help them. Initially, they and I need to understand what they actually are eating. I give them a 3-Day Food Journal, which they will complete over the course of 3 continuous days. It’s amazing how people believe they are eating healthy until we go over their detailed Food Journal. They also fill out a health questionnaire. I review their food choices and other health issues with them, and I comment about what’s good and what’s bad about their current eating habits. We’ll also discuss what might be missing in their meals that is necessary for a healthy mouth as well as a healthy body.
In addition, I give them a summary of the general food groups that are not healthy choices. I specifically recommend substitute foods to replace their unhealthy choices, which they have included in their Journal. Then, both of us create a plan to make necessary changes – slowly and methodically. Whatever time it takes for them to change their eating lifestyles is perfectly OK. Whatever works for each patient works for me.
You can email me, and I’ll send you a PDF of the 3-Day Food Journal with my written guide to assist you in interpreting your personal 3-Day Food Journal by yourself. The PDF also includes some tasty substitutes to replace specific bad food choices in your daily diet. Dr.Danenberg@iCloud.com
Generally, a healthy diet will eliminate as many processed carbs and added sugars as possible. Be especially aware of sodas and juices. These contain strong acids that can demineralize your teeth and start the tooth decay process. Sodas and juices also contain a huge amount of sugar that feeds bad bacteria in your mouth, which are initiating factors causing tooth decay and gum disease. Also understand that the artificial sweeteners in zero-calorie drinks can damage your healthy gut bacteria, which affect your overall health as well as your mouth. So, consider eliminating sodas and fruit juices of all kinds and find satisfactory substitutes that you can enjoy. Water, teas, seltzers, and coffee may be ideal substitutes for you. If you need a sweetener, use organic stevia or monk fruit that do not cause tooth decay and are not artificial.
I recommend various ways of eating as long as they are doable for the patient and meet the strict criteria I encourage – no foods that are inflammatory to the body and all foods that nourish the body.
This is important: Don’t think that a “diet” is a temporary way to eat and then you would go back to old habits. My concept of a healthy diet is truly a lifestyle change in eating protocols that may take time to institute – something that eventually happens comfortably and without constant thought, stress, or effort. Diets like the Mediterranean Diet, a Low-Carbohydrate Diet, the Paleo Diet, the Ketogenic Diet, and even the current Carnivore Diet may be excellent lifestyle changes to investigate. If any of them appeals to you, make plans to transition into it at your own pace. Here is a short description of each of them:
Mediterranean Diet: This type of diet consists of eating: (a) high levels of vegetables, fruits, cereals (mostly whole grains), nuts, and legumes; (b) low levels of saturated fat, sweets, and meat; (c) high levels of unsaturated fat (mainly olive oil); (d) medium-high levels of fish; (e) moderate levels of wine; and (f) medium-low levels of dairy products (mainly yogurt and cheese).
Low-Carbohydrate Diet: Restricting processed carbohydrates and sugars avoids high blood sugar levels and high blood insulin levels. Low-carb improves the garden of beneficial gut bacteria. Processed carbohydrates can be replaced with resistant starch (ex: oats, raw potato starch, cooked and cooled rice, green bananas).
Paleolithic Diet: A paleolithic (paleo) diet today mimics the diet of our ancestors during the Old Stone Age. This style of eating was prevalent during the course of human existence. A paleo diet today consists of: (1) High consumption of fruits, vegetables, and various herbs and spices; (2) Moderate-to-high consumption of meats, organs, fish, and eggs; (3) Moderate consumption of nuts and seeds; and (4) Exclusion of all processed foods, legumes, grains, pasteurized dairy products, and processed vegetable and seed oils (except olive and coconut oil).
Ketogenic diet: Ketogenic (keto) diets represent an extremely low-carbohydrate diet. A keto diet reduces carbohydrate intake to less than 50 g/day. At this level, insulin is kept to low levels and cortisol levels are slightly elevated. This will induce the production of ketone bodies in the liver, which will be used as the main energy source for the body.
Carnivore Diet: The carnivore diet is an extreme of the keto diet. The carnivore diet is similar to a ketogenic diet but with all fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds removed. A ketogenic diet reduces carbohydrates and increases healthy fats to a level where the body’s metabolism shifts away from burning carbs to burning fat and ketones for energy. The carnivore diet requires eating only wild-caught and pastured animals from nose-to-tail. Since the carnivore diet completely eliminates all plants, it importantly avoids the abundance of antinutrients (i.e. lectins, oxalates, and phytic acid) found in plants that have the potential to cause many gut problems.
My Personal Eating Plan
Prior to 2012, I was eating the Standard American Diet (SAD). My eating lifestyle was loaded with unhealthy carbs and unhealthy fats. In 2012, I shifted my SAD lifestyle to a paleo-type diet. Some withdrawal symptoms occurred as I eliminated excess carbohydrates. These included achy joints, deep cravings for carbs, stomach discomfort, and overall weakness like dealing with the flu. Then after three weeks or so, all those ailments were practically gone, and I was on a positive roll. I continued with my paleo diet with some tweaks along the way until 2020. On January 1, 2020, I transitioned to my modified carnivore diet. This has been perfect for me; maybe it could be perfect for you.
If you would like, I will send you PDFs on my healthy paleo-type diet and my healthy carnivore diet. Email your request to me at: Dr.Danenberg@iCloud.com