What is myth and what is reality?

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Sometimes, we take things for granted as dentists. Sometimes, we don't question what we have been taught. And sometimes, because we don't question what we have been taught, we are proved wrong. The battle for health is figuring out what is myth or reality.

Alvin Danenberg, DDS.Alvin Danenberg, DDS.

I've done extensive research of peer-reviewed medical articles. Based on these publications and my personal experiences, I have come up with some practical conclusions. Each heading below used to be considered a reality by the scientific community but now has been determined to be a myth. The thoughts that follow the heading are mine.

When I treat my periodontal patients, I explain what's myth or what's reality. I help my patients understand that it is a myth to assume that flossing and brushing will guarantee a healthy mouth. The reality is that nutrition, lifestyle, and a healthy gut play a dominant role in making a mouth healthier.

Fat makes you fat

I tell my patients that carbohydrates make you fat because of excessive insulin production. Healthy fats satisfy hunger and provide fuel. Generally, ingested fat will not become storage fat unless insulin is excessive from too many carbs or not enough physical movement.

Running 5 miles a day

Running 5 miles a day is chronic exercise, because the body does not have enough time to recover. Chronic exercise produces oxidative stress, is unhealthy for the cardiovascular system, and discourages fat burning.

When my patients tell me they run every day, I sometimes suggest that a healthier exercise program might include a reduction of the daily jogging and include the following:

  • Lifting heavy things a couple of times a week
  • Sprinting once every seven to 10 days

Each would take only 10 to 20 minutes of time. In addition, a couple of hours of aerobic exercise spaced out during the week along with physical movement throughout each day will round out a healthy routine.

Breakfast is the healthiest meal

I tell my patients that the most important time to eat is when you are hungry. If your hormones are in balance, you may actually not need to eat until noon or later.

“I help my patients understand that it is a myth to assume that flossing and brushing will guarantee a healthy mouth.”

Just as important, when we do eat, each meal conceptually should be a plate of food partitioned like the following:

  • More than half the plate should include nonstarchy veggies either raw or sautĂ©ed in a healthy fat.
  • Less than a quarter of the plate should be some type of free-range or wild-caught animal protein, including its natural fats.
  • Less than a quarter could be made up of some nuts or seeds, a deeply colored fruit (such as berries or citrus), or a small starchy vegetable.

Whole grains have plenty of nutrients

Grains contain elements that irritate the gut and interfere with normal absorption of necessary minerals. Grains came into the human diet only about 10,000 years ago, but the human gut never developed sufficient enzymes to digest them properly. In contrast, all the nutrients our bodies need come from eating vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, and animals from head to tail.

Processed vegetable oils are healthy

Processed vegetable oils are mostly inflammatory and are chemically unstable. When eaten, they potentially create serious health problems. In contrast, fats from coconut, avocados, olives, animals that are pastured and/or allowed to eat that natural diet, and butter from grass-fed cows support healthy cell function.

Artificial sweeteners are good for you

Artificial sweeteners are toxic to the body. In addition, the brain senses the sweetness of these sweeteners, which could stimulate insulin production. Sometimes my patients will express surprise when I tell them that these sweeteners will not help them lose weight.

Gut problems

Many times when my patients and I are having a conversation about their health and I ask about gut problems, they respond that since their stomach does not hurt, they believe their gut is fine.

Most disease begins when the intestinal lining becomes overly permeable (called a leaky gut), and materials that should never enter the blood system start invading. A person does not have to have digestive symptoms such as gas, pain, constipation, or diarrhea to have a leaky gut. To help prevent, control, or eliminate chronic disease, one must make the gut healthy first.

A version of this column first ran on Dr. Danenberg's blog. DrBicuspid.com appreciates the opportunity to reprint it. His book Crazy-Good Living from Elektra Press is available here.

Alvin Danenberg, DDS, practices at the Bluffton Center for Dentistry in Bluffton, SC. He is also on the faculty of the College of Integrative Medicine and created its integrative periodontal teaching module. He also spent two years as chief of periodontics at Charleston Air Force Base earlier in his career. His website is drdanenberg.com.

The comments and observations expressed herein do not necessarily reflect the opinions of DrBicuspid.com, nor should they be construed as an endorsement or admonishment of any particular idea, vendor, or organization.

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