Tag: oral health

Beyond Sugar and Soda: Nutritional Cures for Damaged Teeth

This is another special guest post from our favorite study-dismantler, Denise Minger. Read all of her previous Mark’s Daily Apple articles here, here, here, here, and here, pay her website a visit, and grab a copy of her new book Death by Food Pyramid: How Shoddy Science, Sketchy Politics and Shady Special Interests Ruined Your Health. Enter Denise…

When you’re a teenager, a tad cocky about your flossing-and-brushing prowess, and a proud worshipper at the altar of Colgate, the last thing you want to hear is that you might need dentures by the time you’re thirty.

Unfortunately, that’s the exact situation I found myself in one fateful November day. I was seventeen. It’d been a full year since I’d become a strict, low-fat, fruit-noshing raw vegan — led there by a cocktail of food allergies and dewy-eyed trust in people from the internet (bad idea is bad). Perhaps too distracted by my constant brain fog, perpetual shivering, and the clumps of hair making a mass exodus from my scalp, I’d failed to notice the prime victim of my lopsided diet: my teeth.

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How to Take Care of Your Teeth (Hint: There’s More to It Than Brushing)

I get a lot of questions about dental hygiene and health, and for good reason. Dental records of our paleolithic ancestors show a fairly low incidence of caries when compared to modern teeth. Exceptions exist, but the general trends suggest that Grok had better teeth than the average contemporary human. Of course, when cavities struck back then, they hit hard and got really ugly, because there were no dentists, drills, or x-rays to fix the problem, but most never got to that point. Also, the adoption of agriculture is generally associated with the emergence of poor dental health, so much so that many researchers use the appearance of dental caries in a population as strong evidence for the presence of farming. Maize/corn is particularly bad, as is wheat, but the same relationship may not hold true for rice agriculture in Asian records.

Okay – let’s take a look at a couple common questions I get about dental health:

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Caveman Breath

When I first tell people I’m on a Primal Blueprint diet emulating our ancient ancestors, the witty ones are usually quick with a clever comment or two, usually referencing the Flintstones, heavy brow ridges, monosyllabic grunts, or some combination of the three. A hearty laugh is shared (mine being exceedingly polite), and they’ll go on to ask if I’ve experienced increased hair growth, whether or not I met my wife by clubbing her over the head, and if I’ve got caveman breath (always accompanied by a theatrical, exaggerated step backward). What would I do without such comedians?

I gotta admit, though, they might have a point about the caveman breath. Although I don’t have a problem with it personally (unless my wife has kept quiet all these years), bad breath is a common complaint I hear about low-carb dieters. Strangely enough, I rarely hear it from actual low-carbers, but rather from overly critical skeptics. Still, bad breath does happen to everyone, and I for one would be wary of engaging Grok in a close heart to heart talk over some fermented mammoth milk. Even on our own comment boards, reader madMUHHH complained about having constant bad breath. Of course, he was also eating loads of garlic and onions, which are notorious causes of bad breath (regardless of the overall diet), but it does go to show that just because we’re eating healthy Primal foods, it doesn’t mean we’re immune to the ravages of bad breath.

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Sports Fans, Fish Eyes and Dental Hygiene

Ah, yes. Another mishmash of random yet relevant contemporary science news updates is upon us. This week’s offering includes news that engaging in sports (or even just being a fan) can improve one’s mental faculties; that though a diet rich in oily fish is supremely beneficial to your overall health, just a once-a-week fishy fix can protect your eyesight in old age; and that a link between gum disease and heart disease has been established. Interesting enough, but how do these studies relate to – or even support – the Primal Blueprint? Read on to find out.

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Dental Decay Before Birth?

Though Americans have access to some of the finest dental care on the planet, American babies are showing increasing rates of dental decay. There are a number of causes. First, the tremendous popularity of bottled water has played a part in higher cavity rates (bottled water is typically not fluoridated). Ironically, tap water is healthier than the pricey bottled options. Second, the prevalent reliance on juices, sweet drinks and milk for children – all high in sweeteners such as sugar and high fructose corn syrup – has contributed to the decay problem. And, finally, studies indicate that dental decay likely begins before children even have their teeth. Infants’ mouths and gums should be wiped clean and gently stimulated with a washcloth several times daily, even before their first tooth breaks. Interestingly, decay can begin in the womb. It turns out that a mother’s dental care regimen has a direct impact upon the developing dentition of her unborn baby. So, if the mother isn’t flossing, rinsing, and brushing consistently, or is following a diet that encourages bacterial growth (e.g. one high in grains and sugars), this can create early dental problems in the child. Though baby teeth are “disposable”, poor prevention and early decay impacts the strength, straightness, and health of the permanent teeth. Moreover, early gum problems can set the stage for systemic illness down the road.

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New Natural Bad Breath Cure Also Relieves Stress (Plus Bad Breath Tips)

Magnolia bark extract is a traditional Chinese medicine that alleviates fever, headache, and stress. Recent research has also shown that magnolia bark nixes the germs that lead to ulcers. Now, magnolia bark extract has been shown to be effective against bad breath, as well!

When Wrigley researchers added the extract to gum, trial chewers experienced fresher breath. This natural antibacterial treatment works by killing the bacteria behind most bad breath. The actual source of bad breath – outside of your wild nights with garlic – is the sulfur that results as a byproduct of bacteria breaking down proteins in the mouth.

Tips to Tame That Dragon:

1. First, proper dental care. Brushing after meals is important, but flossing is essential, too.

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The Tooth Bone’s Connected to the Heart Bone…

An interesting little study reported in Reuters today discusses the connection between dental health and cardiovascular disease. In short, things like gingivitis, tooth loss due to cavities, and poor dental hygiene significantly increase the risk for heart problems down the line. Being that heart disease is one of our top killers, it’s an important issue to consider.

This is one of a number of recent studies linking dental health with heart health. While at first glance it might appear surprising – and researchers are quick to point out that no causality has been established – I think a general observation about our Western perspective on health can easily be made. It’s not so much cause-and-effect as connection. The Western approach, while radical in its own way (I’m talking about life-saving surgery techniques and the advent of drugs like penicillin), also has its flaws. Treatment tends to focus on parts, not the whole, and care tends to emphasize tinkering, not prevention.

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8 Essential Aging Hacks

We face eight key health challenges as we age. The steps you take to prevent and mitigate these challenges can make the difference between just hobbling through your golden years and actually thriving. There’s just no reason not to enjoy energy and vitality well into your seventies, eighties and beyond. Everyone’s into hacks: life hacks, brain hacks, productivity hacks, tech hacks, budget hacks, house hacks. I’m into aging hacks. Let us hack. Here are the top health issues we all must face when we descend to the other side of the hill, and the smart steps you can take – now – to stop them. Although I think it’s worth stating that the hill metaphor of life should be chucked entirely. “Over the hill” doesn’t make sense in this day and age with all the amazing scientific and nutritional advances of which we can take endless advantage. So I prefer to think of life as a gently sloping valley that gets a bit steeper the closer you get to the other side. You just need a few more tools to ace the slope. 1. Obesity and Metabolic Syndrome This is the biggest cause of preventable death, because it’s linked to virtually all the other major causes of death (cancer, diabetes, heart disease). 75% of adults over 60 are overweight or obese. Obesity and poor health go hand in hand. It’s almost impossible to live a long, healthy life if you are seriously overweight. No wonder we’ve got such a massive health care tab and drastically reduced quality of life among seniors. Though I ought to quibble with the BMI, for the purposes of this post I won’t. The general guideline is to make sure your waist is less than 40″ if you’re a man and 35″ if you’re a woman. I don’t recommend focusing on LDL cholesterol to the detriment of other crucial factors like raising your good (HDL) cholesterol and keeping your triglycerides and inflammation under absolute control. The four simple steps required: – Eat smart protein that contains good fat: grass-fed meat, wild fish, DHA-enhanced eggs, fermented tofu (and take a fish oil supplement, too). – Cook with olive oil or walnut oil. – Absolutely avoid all refined foods that contain processed grains, sugars, corn syrup, starch, flour, etc. – Move a little. A daily walk is sufficient if you do your best to make it brisk. 2. Arthritis Half of us will get it. I even have osteoarthritis from my time as a pro runner. We’re also prone to joint troubles thanks to our primal past – er, the fact that we walk upright hasn’t quite registered with our DNA. Hence, we experience knee and back issues like they’re going out of style (only as of yet, they are not). Of course, obesity is a big culprit. Losing just ten pounds can cut your risk in half. I manage arthritis successfully by doing the following: – Taking at least a gram of fish oil daily. – Reducing … Continue reading “8 Essential Aging Hacks”

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Wine Prevents Cavities

A new study out today confirms the antibacterial power of both red and white wine. Apparently, researchers have proven that wine destroys the bacteria responsible for cavities and throat infections. Interestingly, it’s not the alcohol that kills the germs, but rather acids in the wine.

Imagine the possibilities here:

– Stop fighting the nightly battle with your toddler and the toothbrush. Just get ’em tossed instead. Sure, they’ll be a little hungover at preschool, but you can never be too careful when it comes to your child’s dental health.

– Until cough syrup comes in a believable-tasting grape, wine has won points for flavor. Now we see that “Grandpa’s medicine” really is medicine. Because if you’re calling in sick, you might as well be drunk.

No wonder bums have such great teeth! I’m being facetious, of course. I don’t know if replacing your toothbrush with a wine glass is such a bright idea.

This is Kjaergaard’s Flickr Photo CC

The study was a test-tube run, and when the active acids were removed and tested on their own, they killed germs better than the wine. So while wine is a naturally antibacterial beverage, other properties in the wine probably cancel out any benefits. The study also illustrates the fact that just about anything can be promoted as having a health benefit.

For example, because wine contains the antioxidant resveratrol, it’s touted as being healthy. While there’s plenty of evidence to suggest modest amounts of alcohol may exert some protective cardiovascular benefit, to reap serious antioxidant benefit, you’d have to drink enough jugs to put Gallo out of business. I think wine, in moderation, has healthful properties. But don’t expect wine to save your arteries if you’re not also living a healthy lifestyle. You’re better off eating fresh fruits and vegetables and supplementing with a multivitamin that contains antioxidants.

The moral here is that even scientists can justify that Dionysian dinner tab as a business expense.

Further reading:

How to Eat More Chocolate and Drink More Wine Every Day

[tags] health benefits of wine, antioxidants [/tags]

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