What Went Wrong?

evolution rIf our primal ancestors ate nutrient-dense foods that allowed them to thrive with no gum disease or tooth decay, then what went wrong? Today there is a 47% prevalence of periodontitis among adults in the United States. Periodontitis is the advanced stage of gum disease where not only the gums are infected, but also the bone surrounding the roots of the teeth are infected and breaking down. For those who are over 65 years old, the prevalence of periodontitis jumps to 70%. When and why did the prevalence of gum disease go from almost 0% to 70%?
It didn’t happen in one day. It was progressive and cumulative.
The major change began with the emergence of civilization. Civilization allowed peoples to come together. Civilization brought many good things to humans – protection from the elements and protection from their enemies. Societies developed farming and agriculture, which brought an abundance of foods like grains to feed the masses. The timeline was about 10,000 years ago.
Unfortunately, some of the cultivated foods were processed into dense, acellular carbohydrates, which were concentrated (or dense) carbohydrates that had their cell walls broken down and removed. These were lacking in nutrients. In time, these acellular carbohydrates began replacing many nutrient-dense foods that used to be the dominant makeup of the human diet.
Healthy carbohydrates are contained in the living cells of plants. When these plants are normally cooked, the cell-to-cell links are broken down, but the cell walls that contain the healthy carbohydrates are not destroyed. When healthy plants are ingested, the body’s digestive system breaks down their cell walls and metabolizes their contents.
Dense acellular carbohydrates do not occur naturally in nature.
Two of the most powerful ways humans created dense acellular carbohydrates were to isolate and concentrate sugars from plants, and to grind dense seeds into highly compacted flour. In both cases, heat and pressure would destroy the original food’s cell walls, resulting in dense carbohydrates. These carbohydrates were dead. They did not spoil over time like healthy, cellular carbohydrates would spoil. The resulting flour and sugars were dense, acellular carbohydrates that caused unhealthy changes in the body.
There is a progression of damage that occurs when we eat dense acellular carbs. The lack of essential nutrients in these foods will starve the body’s cells of what they need to thrive. The acellular carbohydrates not only lead to unhealthy bacterial changes in the mouth and gut but also affect the lining of the gut.
Once the gut lining is damaged, harmful bacterial byproducts (called lipopolysaccharides or LPS) and undigested food particles can leak into the bloodstream. Our immune system reacts to these invaders into the bloodstream and creates cascading events of inflammation, which are highly destructive to many functions of the body. Chronic inflammation leads to increases in degenerative diseases of the whole body.
It was once believed that periodontal disease caused systemic diseases. However, the American Heart Association made a statement that there was no evidence indicating a causal link between periodontal disease and heart disease. The AHA suggested independent factors were causing both periodontal disease and heart disease.
Science now knows that the frequent ingestion of high-density, acellular carbohydrates in flour and sugar products (1) creates a growth of unhealthy bacteria in the mouth and gut, (2) damages the cellular lining of the gut, and (3) produces deficiencies in micronutrients. These unhealthy carbs most likely could be the real root cause of periodontal disease, cardiovascular diseases, and other chronic diseases of modern humans.
Hunter-gatherer populations today eat unprocessed foods, and these societies can thrive on a wide variety of macronutrient ratios (ratios relating fat to protein to carbohydrate), ranging from equatorial tribes like the Kitava of Papua, New Guinea, who consume 65 percent of their calories from carbohydrates, all the way to the !Kung in Africa’s Kalahari Desert who eat large quantities of nuts that are 60 percent fat. What neither of these tribes consumes are carbohydrate-dense, acellular foods. These societies rarely have degenerative diseases or tooth decay or gum disease that plague most modern people today.
Q: What went wrong?
A: Our food supply became dominated with dense, acellular carbohydrates that have led to unforeseen damage in the human body.

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