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This may come as a shock to you!
Because up and until now, indulging grains has never featured anywhere as a culprit for tooth decay…
But studies suggest so!
You see, when you were young, you may have been warned against indulging candies at the corner store due to their cavity-inducing ingredients…
But there’s much more to your cavity problem than you’ve been told!
The truth is, when you eat carbohydrates such as grains and refined sugar, a specific type of oral bacteria digests the particles or ‘residue‘ that remain on your teeth after you eat.
The bacteria mixes with your saliva to form plaque, which eats away at your tooth enamel, causing cavities.
And looking back into the history of cavities and tooth decay, research shows that while cavities did exist in the prehistoric times…they only became common once grains, such as wheat and barley were introduced into our diets.
In one study, scientists tested for the oral bacteria that causes cavities in various human skeletons, ranging from 100-6000 years old.
When they analyzed the DNA in the mouths of the skeletons, they found that the rate of the problematic oral bacteria increased significantly in the skeletons from the era that humans first began to farm grains.
This was due to a significant change noted in this era’s “oral ecosystem”, which allowed gum disease bacteria to flourish!
Ever wondered why cavemen didn’t need dentists?
It’s because cavities became common when grains were introduced into our diets.
Fast forward several hundred years, and our oral ecosystem shifted again as we began to consume refined sugar and flour–this time providing the most enabling environment for the bacteria that cause tooth decay.
So, how and why did grains cause the initial decline in our oral health?
It has to do with a nutrient that’s off-limits on the Paleo diet at all times–Phytic acid.
If you follow the Paleo diet, you know that grains and legumes are off-limits because of the protective coating they contain, known as phytic acid.
Phytic acid is a compound found in plant-based foods, such as grains, nuts, and seeds. It helps plants store phosphorus–a mineral that allows them to grow.
And while phytic acid allows plants to survive, its effects on humans is quite different!
Instead, phytic acid has the ability to bind to essential nutrients, thereby hampering their absorption.
Among these nutrients are zinc, iron, magnesium, as well as one of the most important minerals for building healthy gums and teeth..and preventing tooth decay: Calcium.
Furthermore, phytic acid has been shown to interfere with vitamin D absorption, which is needed to absorb calcium.
As a side-note, you may be wondering…”If nuts and seeds contain phytic acid, why are they allowed on the Paleo diet?”
Well, soaking or sprouting grains and legumes can help reduce the phytic acid that causes cavities.
The Paleo diet recommends soaking nuts and seeds before eating them in order to eliminate some of the phytic acid.
Since nuts are extremely filling due to their high fat content, they’re generally not eaten in large enough quantities to cause the same problems grains and legumes do. For instance, one serving size of nuts or seeds is a small handful, whereas a serving size of grains is around 1 cup.
If you’re not a primal-eater and do include grains and legumes in your diet, soaking, sprouting, and fermenting them can help reduce the phytic acid…
Which is the primary reason why grains cause cavities because they interfere with vitamin D and calcium absorption–the two critical nutrients for preventing tooth decay and gum disease.
It may fascinate you to discover that a low-fat diet can also contribute to the onset of cavities!
Following a low-fat diet increases your risk of fat-soluble vitamin deficiencies: Vitamins A, D, E, and K. Theses vitamins need fat to be absorbed.
Vitamin K has been shown to support oral health through its antioxidant properties, and its production of the protein osteocalcin, which promotes healthy bones and teeth.
Vitamin K acts as a saliva buffer against sugar and other oral bacterial acids that break down bones and cause tooth decay.
On the other hand, Vitamin A helps keep mucous membranes in the mouth healthy, which can help prevent gum disease and cancer.
If you follow a Paleo diet, you most likely eat healthy fats from avocados, coconuts, small amounts of nuts (ideally soaked), seeds, olives and olive oil, animal fats and meat, and in some cases, grass-fed butter or ghee.
Including these fats in your diet each day can help you efficiently absorb the most important nutrients for dental health.
So, the bottom line is, you need fat in your diet to efficiently absorb vitamins A, D, E, and K, which aid in calcium absorption, and play a key role in oral health.
The great news is there are natural strategies for preventing or reversing cavities.
One of them is going Paleo, which will significantly reduce the amount of phytic acid you consume.
Paleo is full of healthy fats and minerals needed for your health. Foods such as bone broth, leafy greens, and grass-fed meats are highly recommended.
Better yet, mineralizing toothpastes can help replenish minerals in tooth enamel to prevent tooth decay.
You can make your own mineralized toothpaste at home with coconut oil, trace minerals from a trace mineral dropper, such as phytoplanaton, baking soda, and food grade essential oils.
Ever heard of Oil Pulling?
It’s yet another way of preventing cavity.
Oil pulling is an ancient Ayurvedic remedy for natural detoxification, which helps remove harmful bacteria from the mouth.
By drawing out toxins and bacteria from your teeth and gums, oil pulling prevents such toxins from entering your GI tract, which benefits the rest of your body.
Oil pulling is also known to help prevent bad breath as well as whitening teeth.
And it’s simple and easy to do. All you need is a tablespoon of coconut oil. Before brushing your teeth in the morning, swish the oil around your mouth for 20 minutes.
Be careful not to swallow the oil because it absorbs the bad bacteria in your mouth, and the last place you want that bacteria to end up is in your stomach.
Once you’re done swishing the oil, spit out the mixture, rinse, and then follow with your usual brushing routine.
You can do this every morning for best results.
You can never learn just enough about oral health…
Your level of confidence has a lot to do with your oral health–take great care of it.
You might not have read these titles, yet they go a long way in enhancing your oral health knowledge!
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This article is an educational guide that provides general health information and does not, therefore, substitute one-on-one consultation with your professional healthcare giver.