The following is a guest blog post from a professional friend of ours, Dr. Al Danenberg. Dr. Al is a wonderful resource because he is a dentist who specializes in the treatment of gum disease AND has awakened to the foundational impact that diet has on our oral health. You can learn more from Dr. Al by visiting his site, DrDanenberg.com. With that, we’ll turn it over to Dr. Al…
I recently had a patient who had bleeding gums, but it wasn’t caused by dental plaque or poor oral hygiene. It was the result of unhealthy food choices and an unhealthy gut, which led to a compromised immune system, which led to a breakdown in his mouth. After changing his nutrition, he was able to resolve his bleeding and sore gums.
I am in a unique position. I am a periodontist who has been in practice for 40 years, but two years ago I had a paradigm shift. I learned about ancestral nutrition. Who says you can’t teach an old dog new tricks?
Today, I incorporate cutting edge periodontal treatment using the PerioLase® laser along with the health benefits of ancestral nutrition. I have changed my personal health through ancestral nutrition, and I teach ancestral nutrition to all my periodontal patients to enhance their healing, to create a healthy gut microbiome, and to improve their overall health.
Human skeletal remains have been discovered as far back as 400,000 years ago. Dental remains from approximately 20,000 years ago have demonstrated that our primal ancestors hardly ever had gum disease or dental decay. How could that be? They had no toothbrushes, no floss, no fluoride, and no dental cleanings every 6 months. Then how could they have healthy mouths? The answer is they ate nutrient-dense foods and had healthy gut bacteria!
Here are 19 pearls for you to consider for a healthier mouth and a healthier body:
Foods to avoid:
1. Grains can initiate inflammation and a leaky gut, through which undigested foods and bad bacteria can leak into the bloodstream. Not good! This creates a cascade of events that can cause various chronic diseases and obesity. Our guts never evolved to digest grains completely, and they need to be eliminated from our diets.
2. Unnatural sugars contribute to unhealthy bacteria and chronic diseases as grains do. All added sugars like fructose, agave, and high fructose corn syrup should be avoided.
3. Polyunsaturated vegetable oils (like canola oil, sunflower oil, soybean oil, and safflower oil) are unstable and break down easily as a result of commercial processing and normal cooking. Ingestion of these fats damages metabolic processes causing harm to individual cells. Also, chemically altered trans fats and partially hydrogenated fats are toxic to the body. All of these need to be avoided.
4. Legumes have anti-nutrients that irritate the intestinal lining and prevent the proper absorption of many minerals. Legumes are not essential for health and only offer a low level of nutrients per gram. These include beans, soy, peanuts, and lentils. They should be avoided.
Foods to include (organic is best):
5. Saturated fats that have been demonized are essential for cell membranes as well as many biological functions. We need to eat all forms of healthy fats, which also include many essential micronutrients. Healthy fats made up as much as 60% of our primal ancestors’ diets. Consider the healthy fats from avocados, coconut oil, wild caught fatty fish like salmon, organ meats like liver and brain from free-range animals, and butter from grass-fed cows.
6. The micronutrients in non-starchy vegetables provide essential building blocks for our individual cells. If you look at a plate of food, at least 1/2 of it should consist of non-starchy vegetables. A great way to “eat” your veggies is to “drink” some of them in a smoothie. Here is a link to my favorite green smoothie.
7. Fermented foods like sauerkraut, kimchi, full-fat plain yogurt, full-fat kefir, other fermented vegetables, and kombucha (fermented tea) offer healthy bacteria that can support a healthy gut. Include these with your meals as often as you can.
8. Grass-fed and grass-finished meats, shellfish and small fish like sardines and anchovies, free-range chickens and their eggs, and free-range hogs contain essential amino acids, vitamins, minerals, and healthy fats that need to be included in your diet.
9. Homemade bone broth offers unique nutrients for your body and especially your gut. Here is my favorite recipe.
10. Sea vegetables are also unique because of their abundance of trace minerals. Here is my favorite recipe for seaweed soup using bone broth as a base.
11. Filtered water provides minimal toxins and necessary hydration. At least 6-8 glasses a day should be adequate.
12. Nuts and seeds provide healthy nutrients, but they also contain anti-nutrients. It is best to soak all nuts and seeds overnight to remove the anti-nutrients.
13. Fruits are generally healthy, but they contain fructose and should be eaten in moderation. The best choices are all berries (like strawberries, blueberries, blackberries, raspberries) and citrus.
Supplements you may want to include:
14. Fermented cod liver oil combined with high vitamin butter oil is anti-inflammatory and includes an abundance of naturally occurring fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E, and K among many other nutrients. An online source is Green Pastures products.
15. Organic kelp powder provides many trace minerals including iodine, which is synergistic with the fat-soluble vitamins. An online source is Oregon’s Wild Harvest. (Note from Will and Susan… When considering sea vegetables, we find it really wise to know the quality of the source. We do not know anything about this company. We personally enjoy sea products from here.)
16. Probiotic supplements help increase available healthy bacteria for the gut. Soil-based probiotics provide a variety of beneficial microorganisms that are difficult to get with a regular probiotic supplement. Here’s an excellent primer on the benefits of probiotics, why they help, what to look for in a probiotic supplement and how foods can provide us with probiotic benefits too.
17. Coconut oil is antibacterial, antiviral, and anti-fungal. It is effective as a mouth rinse (called “coconut oil pulling”). Place 1/2 teaspoon of coconut oil in your mouth and swish. After 10 minutes, spit out and rinse with water. You can use this as often as you want. (Here’s a link to an article that details the benefits of oil pulling)
18. Use an electric toothbrush dipped first into coconut oil and then into baking soda. (Instead of the baking soda, you could place 2-3 drops of OraWellness Healthy Mouth Blend® onto the brush head that has been dipped in coconut oil.) Place the bristles of the electric brush into the space between the teeth and gum on the cheek side and then the tongue side of the teeth. The idea is to let the bristles clean into the gum space between the gum and the tooth just like you would clean the angle where the wall meets the floor with a scrub brush.
19. To clean between the teeth, you could use floss. Another way to clean between the teeth is with a tiny-bristle brush that would clean like a bottlebrush cleans the inside of a bottle. A popular brand is called a Proxabrush® available online.
Remember how your Mom gave you chicken soup to cure all your ills? Just maybe the old ways were some of the best ways!
Alvin H. Danenberg, DDS
Certified Functional Medicine Practitioner
Dr. Danenberg divides his career into two periods: before and after the laser coupled with the dynamics of ancestral nutrition. The laser-based LANAP® protocol and the importance of ancestral nutrition, he believes, are revolutionizing the treatment of gum disease. LANAP is an acronym for Laser Assisted New Attachment Procedure and requires no scalpels or sutures.
Dr. Alvin Danenberg received his dental degree from the Baltimore College of Dental Surgery in 1972, and his Specialty Certificate in Periodontics from the University of Maryland, School of Graduate Dentistry in 1974. Currently he practices periodontics from offices in Bluffton, Beaufort, and West Columbia, all located in South Carolina.
Dr. Danenberg received advanced training in ancestral nutrition from the Kripalu Center for Yoga and Health as well as The Center for Mind-Body Medicine in 2013. In July 2014, he received a CFMP (Certified Functional Medicine Practitioner) designation from Functional Medicine University and also launched his website, DrDanenberg.com, from which he can provide telephone and Skype consultations.
If you’d like to know what questions to ask to find a dental team who will work with you on your journey to greater oral health, feel free to download our FREE Guide to Safe Dentistry.