Oral Systemic Health
As health-centered providers, we are always educating patients on the ill effects of gum disease and attempting to motivate patients to improve their plaque control so that this harmful inflammatory process can be reversed. One of our challenges with motivation is that gum disease doesn’t typically cause pain and although bleeding gums and inflammation are indicative of a disease process, without discomfort, many people lack concern.
Would it create motivation to know that oral inflammation and disease strongly correlates with disease elsewhere in the body?
Scientific research continues to validate this “Oral Systemic Link” between chronic oral infections from periodontal (gum) disease and systemic health. It’s well substantiated that periodontal disease and oral inflammation increases one’s risk for heart disease, stroke, diabetes, arthritis, Alzheimers and even pregnancy risks. There are specific harmful periodontal pathogens (bacteria) that have a direct harmful effect on the vasculature. However, more recent science demonstrates the oral inflammatory products themselves may pose a higher association with systemic risk. Therefore, treating inflammation may not only help manage periodontal diseases but may also help with the management of other chronic inflammatory conditions.
How Dr Schweifler and his team are helping patients reduce their inflammatory risks:
- Taking Blood Pressures
- Paying Attention to Health History/Rx’s
- Partnering with Preventive Medical Providers
- Nutritional Counseling
- Sleep apnea screening
- Diabetic screening
- Effective Periodontal Program
The Obesity and Type II Diabetes Epidemics
Obesity rates in the U.S. doubled from 1980 to 2000. More than one-third (36 percent) of adults are considered to be obese. Almost 3 in 4 men (74 percent) are considered to be overweight or obese and the prevalence of obesity is similar for both men and women. Obesity is of critical health concern as the leading causes of morbidity and mortality are associated with it- diabetes, heart disease, stroke, cancer, arthritis, sleep apnea.
Not coincidentally, the prevalence of Type II Diabetes in the U.S. has also increased at a rate similar to that of obesity. An increase in sedentary lifestyles and the Standard American Diet are largely responsible for the increasing prevalence of both obesity and Type II diabetes.
The Sitting Disease
Industrialization has had profound effects on humans. With modern day lifestyles and modern day conveniences, we have generally denied ourselves or ignored some very critical pieces to what it means to be a healthy human being. Only 6.5% of Americans meet the recommendations set by the Center for Disease Control (CDC), stating that an individual should participate in a minimum of 150 minutes of moderate exercise per week, or 75 minutes of a more vigorous regimen.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), 60 to 85% of the population worldwide does not engage in enough activity, making physical inactivity the fourth leading risk factor for global mortality. The average American sits for 11 hours per day.
The Standard American Pro-Inflammatory Diet
Perhaps an even stronger contributor to our national health problems is our STANDARD AMERICAN DIET. Approximately 60% of the American Diet is Processed, Refined foods and only 11% comes from fruits and veggies.
These refined calorie sources (which really don’t qualify as food) didn’t even exist on Earth until much more modern times. Despite tasting good, the bitter truth is that these calorie sources have little to no nutritional value and actually, represent “dietary injury” to the body that promotes inflammation, potential pain and eventual chronic disease. To make matters worse, the foods created by these calorie sources are actually addictive.
How can processed food create inflammation?
When refined, pro-inflammatory foods are consumed, they create a spike in blood sugar (hyperglycemia) and free radicals are produced. These free radicals enter our body’s cells and set up a cascade of inflammatory chemical activity. Some of these inflammatory mediators (cytokines) are associated with the production of C Reactive Protein (CRP) in the liver. CRP tends to aggregate in various tissues, in particular, blood vessel walls, where it contributes to atherosclerosis and eventually raises one’s risk for a heart attack or stroke. CRP levels can be measured with a simple blood test and tend to increase when chronic inflammation is present, as is true with conditions such as heart disease, stroke, diabetes, cancer, arthritis and Alzheimer’s disease.
Lipopolysaccharide (or bacterial endotoxin) comes from the cell wall of gram negative bacteria. LPS is the driver of many common bacterial infections AND overt infectious diseases. The consumption of refined food products ALSO cause the gram negative bacteria in the gut to release LPS (endotoxin) and circulate throughout the body, stimulating more inflammatory chemical activity. This diet-induced endotoxemia has been studied in great depth and is greater in patients with diabetes.
Dysbiosis is a term that refers to the shifting in gut population to one that is more pro-inflammatory and endotoxin-rich. The antibacterial function of HDL cholesterol (which is commonly referred to as “good” cholesterol) is compromised. Research has shown that refined products reduce HDL cholesterol, thus reducing the detoxifying and elimination of endotoxin.
Body fat is another source of low-grade inflammation. Adipocytes are fat cells and we all have them. In heavier people, they’re just larger and more pro-inflammatory. Adiposopathy refers to the release of additional pro-inflammatory cytokines, as if there was a low-grade infection or autoimmune disease. These cytokines circulate and contribute to the inflammatory burden.
We can literally eat ourselves into an inflamed state that eventually requires medication. It’s also true that medication isn’t required at the earlier stages of eating pro-inflammatory foods. There’s a delayed response that prevents us from seeing the cause/effect relationship between a pro-inflammatory diet and inflammation or pain.
By the time someone attains a significant level of inflammatory activity, they may be 20+ pounds overweight and this may be the only sign that there’s a problem. But, if such an individual goes to see their physician, maybe that physician runs some tests that indicate pro-inflammatory changes in blood glucose, triglycerides, HDL cholesterol and blood pressure. The physician may recommend several Rx’s and mention the benefit of diet and exercise. BUT, modifying a pro-inflammatory lifestyle is easier said than done. As we age, we’re busier with work, family schedules, and it’s hard to engage the mental effort required to make meaningful lifestyle changes.
Pro-inflammatory vs Anti-Inflammatory Diet
When many people are confronted with the idea of eating healthier, they conjure up negative, radical images of veganism- sprouts, quinoa- super “earthy” foods that are perhaps not very appetizing. Healthy is often thought NOT to include red meat, bacon, eggs and cheese. As the table shows, you can eat these things (IN MODERATION) and still stay in an anti-inflammatory state. We are really biologically wired to eat these things.
- Refined Sugar
- Refined Grains
- Grain Flour Products
- Trans Fats
- Refined Omega-6 Seed Oils(corn, safflower, sunflower)
- Grass-fed Meat, Wild Game
- Wild Caught Fish
- Omega-3 Eggs
- Tubers/Roots (potato, yams, sweet potato)
- Omega-3 Seeds (hemp, chia, flax)
- Dark Chocolate
- Olive Oil, Coconut Oil, Butter, Cream, Avocado, Bacon
- Red Wine, Stout Beer
- Coffee, Tea
The Truth About Cholesterol
For several decades, the population has been receiving an erroneous message that cholesterol is overproduced because of too much dietary saturated fat from foods such as bacon, eggs and cheese. Cholesterol, as a word, seems to have a negative sentiment behind it, but let’s not forget that it’s an indispensable chemical for body health:
1) It’s a key structural component in all human cell membranes, allowing cells to communicate;
2) Sex hormones are made of cholesterol, without which women couldn’t be women, men couldn’t be men and pro-creation wouldn’t occur;
3) Cholesterol makes cortisone that help control inflammation and without which, we would all live in chronic pain;
4) Our bodies also make vitamin D from cholesterol. When our skin is exposed to sunlight, the body converts cholesterol into vitamin D- Vit D regulates about 1000 genes and without it, numerous diseases would develop (rickets, osteoporosis, osteoarthritis, heart disease, cancer);
5) Cholesterol is also involved in digestion- in the gall bladder, bile acids are made from cholesterol and digest fats;
6) Both LDL and HDL remove bacterial endotoxin from body circulation and thus are antibacterial, helping the body maintain a symbiotic relationship with gram negative bacteria in the gut.
Modern science has shown that dietary cholesterol is not related to blood cholesterol and it’s actually the consumption of processed foods that “free radicalizes” and inflames cholesterol, leading to atherosclerosis. Contrary to popular opinion of both our healthcare system and food industry, LDL cholesterol CANNOT build up on artery walls and clog them… The true “clogging process” is an inflammatory process.