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Diet and nutrition: Can your pearly whites determine if you are heading for the pearly gates?

Your diet and nutrition determines your oral heatlhShiny, well-aligned, white teeth are a prized possession. But even with shiny white teeth there can still be problems lurking in that good-looking mouth that can change the course of our health. We are all going to die at one time or another, but can our teeth and their state of health determine if our health will suffer in other ways?

There are two ways that we see how the health of our mouth and our heart health are related. As you read on you will see the impact that diet and nutrition has on both.

Over the years there have been proponents that have argued that the state of your oral health can and will affect the state of your cardiovascular health. There are many who say that this is not true and argue that it has no bearing on your overall health and wellbeing. Oral health can and will affect your health and there are things that can be done to change that. The biggest thing is diet and nutrition.

Every day we are either nourishing our bodies or feeding disease. The biggest culprit to poor health, especially oral health is Sugar. Yes, the white sweet demon that we have been told has no affect on your teeth.

In 1938 a dentist by the name of Dr. Royal Lee said the following: “Candy, all white sugar and its products, and white flour, including its products such as macaroni, spaghetti, crackers, etc., should be absolutely barred from the diet of the child. All of these are energy producing foods that contain no building materials for the body. The consequences of their toleration are susceptibility to infections, enlarged tonsils, carious teeth, maldevelopment of teeth, unruly dispositions, stunted growth, rickets, and very often permanent damage to many organs of the body (especially the endocrine glands) that depend on vitamin supply for their normal function and development.”

That was a pretty bold statement but it came from a man who was observing the change in the children he was seeing as patients and it was in direct correlation to the advent and wide spread use of these type food products.

Sugar, fructose, and the white flour products were becoming a large part of the American diet and as a result dental changes as well as health changes ensued.

There are two reasons why the increase in sugar in the diet will affect both oral and cardiovascular health.

First, high sugar and fructose content in the diet can interfere with the absorption of calcium, magnesium, and vitamin D as well as a host of other important nutrients. These 3 are actual building blocks for bone and teeth.

Sugar impacts vitamin D by causing an increase of enzymes in the body that degrades one of the precursors to vitamin D and decreases one of the enzymes that helps synthesize Vitamin D. Sugar and fructose can enhance the breakdown of vitamin D in the kidneys while also impairing the body’s ability to synthesize it. The result is a reduction in vitamin D levels and vitamin D deficiency. This can have an impact on bone health and immune function. Calcium, which is important for skeletal health as well as cardiac health, is decreased when sugar and fructose are present in the diet because it increases calcium excretion by the kidneys. This inhibits the body’s reabsorption of calcium through the kidney tubules leading to a lack of dietary calcium for strong bones and cardiovascular support.

And lastly, magnesium is affected in the same way as calcium. It is not reabsorbed back into the tubules for use by the body. So these specific deficiencies can and will affect the health of your teeth as well as the health of your heart.

Secondly the mouth itself can be a problematic breeding ground to destroy your teeth and your health. High sugar drinks and foods will eave sugar residues on the teeth. The normal bacterium in your mouth eats away at the sugar creating a highly acid environment. The acid will begin to eat away at the enamel on the teeth making them weaker and more prone to cavities. This is essentially tooth decay.

The more sugar the more bacteria and the more the tooth decay, which can lead to periodontal disease. Little pockets that form in the gums and harbor more bacteria which can infiltrate the blood stream and lead to a more systemic problem such as coronary heart disease as discovered by Ryan T. Demmer, PhD and Moïse Desvarieux, MD, PhD in the Journal of The American Dental Association JADA, Vol. 137 http://jada.ada.org October 2006 . They stated that certain bacteria in periodontal disease can infiltrate the vascular system and directly affect the arteries and heart. Indirectly, because of the inflammation in the mouth can spread systemically, which will affect the vascular system and cause atherosclerotic Plaques.

So what can we do for our oral health to help prevent degenerative disease and keep away from the pearly gates too soon? We have to first admit that we need to cut back on the highly refined foods and sugars. That in itself won’t solve the problem but it will decrease the amount of stress we put on our bodies.

Once we reduce that oil on the flame, we need to put the right nutrients in to help repair and rebuild the damage that has taken place. The following are a few suggestions of ways to help your oral health and general health. These don’t replace the need for brushing regularly to reduce the debris that stays in our mouth, flossing regularly, and having regular dental cleanings.

Proteins are imperative for tooth structure, connective tissue development, and immune function. Proteins contain amino acid building blocks such as arginine that helps also to maintain good pH balance in the oral cavity. Phosphorus is necessary along with calcium to enhance enamel remineralization and prevent tartar build up and plaque. Omega 3 fats are important to help reduce inflammation that may be present in periodontal disease and help the connective tissue strengthen. Vitamin C in a whole food source, not just as ascorbic acid m, is necessary because it is part of the ground substance that makes up all tissues and cells. It helps collagen mature and maintains the integrity of the periodontal ligament. Folate is also a good nutrient for dental health and research has shown that low levels of folic acid are associated with periodontal disease.

Vitamins B and D are also important for remineralization of enamel and epithelial cell repair in the gums.

The best way to be sure that you are getting the proper nutrients you need is to make sure that your diet has a good balance of organic fresh fruits and vegetables, good sources of grass fed meats, good sources of fat from coconut oil, olive oil, butter or ghee, avocados, and nuts. Get plenty of good clean water and cut out processed or refined foods. Eat only the things that pop up from the ground or grow on trees and feed on the grass. And even when you do things that seem to be just right and you still are having problems, that is when you need to seek advice and find out what nutrients are missing and help fix that deficiency and improve the overall quality of your health.