Periodontitis: Healthy Gums Through Natural Nutrition

Gingivitis goes down by almost 50 percent in people who eat natural foods after a Stone Age diet. New studies show the influence of diet.

Brushing your teeth helps fight plaque and bacteria – and keeps your teeth and gums healthy. Hardly anyone would disagree with that today. And yet, although they diligently brush their teeth, 98 percent of people in Germany suffer from tooth decay, and 90 percent from gingivitis. Every second adult even has an inflammation of the periodontium, so-called periodontitis, which can lead to tooth loss. Because the composition of the bacteria living in it seems to be more decisive than the amount of plaque. Our ancestors didn’t have a toothbrush yet, as hunters and gatherers they had a lot of plaque – and still healthy teeth.

Stone Age diet in periodontitis

In a study, scientists at the University Dental Clinic in Freiburg examined the influence of nutrition on dental health and, in particular, on periodontitis. The reason for this was the surprising results of an experiment in Switzerland: for a TV documentary, ten participants lived for four weeks as if they were in the Stone Age, subsisting on hunting and wild fruits. Brushing your teeth was taboo. Contrary to expectations, the gums of the participants were overall healthier than before, despite the apparent lack of oral hygiene.

In order to verify these surprising results, the Freiburg scientists divided their subjects into two groups: one group was to eat as they did in the Stone Age, with complex carbohydrates from vegetables and fruit, high-quality fats from nuts and seeds, and fish and only a little meat. The control group followed a typical Western diet: sugar, white flour products, soft drinks, sausage, and meat.

Gum inflammation was reduced by almost 50 percent

After four weeks, the Freiburg researchers saw that the inflammation in their study group had also decreased by almost 50 percent, although the plaque remained the same. The difference could therefore be attributed to the fact that the subjects had avoided sugar, white flour, sweets, and juices. Such simply processed carbohydrates are considered powerful inflammatory drivers. Instead, they ate complex carbohydrates high in fiber, which are more anti-inflammatory.

Changing your diet can help with periodontitis

Fruit and vegetables in particular, which are rich in so-called polyphenols, counteract inflammation. Color-intensive varieties contain a particularly large number of these antioxidant substances. But in addition to the polyphenols, vegetables – such as lettuce – also contain plenty of nitrates.

Salad juice with nitrate against gum inflammation

For a study by the Würzburg Dental Clinic, the researchers produced a salad juice drink with a defined nitrate content, which the subjects drank regularly, while the control group received a nitrate-free juice. After just two weeks, the gingivitis in the nitrate group was 50 percent less. A little later, the nitrate ingested with the food appeared in the saliva of the subjects.

The bacteria on the back of the tongue are able to metabolize nitrate into nitrite. And nitrite not only has an antibacterial effect in the mouth: in the stomach, it is split by the gastric acid into nitric oxide – and this helps the body to fight inflammation. Incidentally, unlike nitrate-cured meat and sausage products, vegetables containing nitrate do not contain any potentially carcinogenic nitrosamines, since the vitamin C contained in the vegetables prevents their formation.

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