I just came back from a 2-day seminar at the University of Toronto presented by the Faculty of Medicine. The speakers were world renowned doctors,biochemists, researchers, and authors in the field of Integrated Medicine. They were presenting 300 of the most current and relevant scientific studies on evidence-based use of nutrition and supplements in the prevention and treatment of diseases of the 21st Century. As a Mississauga Dentist, I spend most of my time treating tooth decay and gum disease using restorative dentistry, root canal therapy, gum surgery, implants, and veneers, so you may wonder what I was doing at this seminar on nutrition. Most of you know that nutrition plays a key role in oral health. Sugar is our number 1 enemy, and fruits and vegetables are our number 1 ally. When I see a lot of tooth decay in a patient and I have determined that diet is the major cause as opposed to poor oral hygiene or 'bad genes', my thoughts immediately turn to the effects that this poor diet is having on my patient's general health. It was extremely interesting to note that the hot topics were Vitamin D, Calcium, Magnesium, and Sugar; the very same topics I have been reviewing in my previous blogs.
I am simply going to present the major findings in list form and I hope you will incorporate some of the suggestions in your diet:
1. We have a significantly increased risk of developing modern degenerative diseases such as cancer, cardiovascular disease and osteoporosis, if we eat too much sugar and starch, and not enough vegetables and fruits, whole grains, nuts, and seeds.
2.We are not slaves to our genes !! A healthy diet can help our immune system effectively 'turn off' unhealthy genes , thereby not allowing those unwanted genes to cause our modern day degenerative diseases.
3. Mushrooms, lightly steamed broccoli, curry, and red wine (one glass a day), and dark chocolate 70 % cocoa all have exceptional abilities to help prevent degenerative diseases.
4. Protein is the only food group that Canadians get more than enough of.
5. We require sufficient amount of fat in our diet to get enough omega 3 and omega 6, which are essential fatty acids that our bodies are unable to make on its own. It is important that we consume approximately the same amount of each of these fatty acids, however Canadians typically get 3 to 4 times more Omega 6 than they do of Omega 3. So we need to eat more flaxseed, walnuts, dark green, leafy vegetables, and fatty fish like salmon.
6. Having some fat (preferably polyunsaturated fat) at every meal, ensures that the essential minerals and vitamins and nutrients will be fully absorbed by our bodies.
7. We need to take supplements in the 21st century because : a) food grown in depleted soil is lower in vitamins and minerals. b) smoking, alcohol consumption, and city living all put tremendous stress on our bodies c) unhealthy diets are not providing essential minerals, vitamins and nutrients. d) many prescription and non-prescription drugs such as anti-depressants, blood pressure pills, antacids, anti-epileptic medication, all rob us of many of our essential nutrients, vitamins, and minerals.
8. Everybody should consider taking a multivitamin everyday. If it contains molybdenum, vitamin K , and 25 mg. vitamin B6 , then chances are it is a good multivitamin.
9. There is more than enough evidence to suggest that Canadians should take 3000 to 4000 i.u of Vitamin D daily. The goal is to achieve a blood level of 100 to 150. (this number is nmoles of 25 hydroxy D which is the true marker of the amount of Vitamin D in your blood.) Most Canadians are in the range of 25 to 50. Insist on having this blood test at your next annual physical examination. There is a fee for this blood test unless you have osteoporosis. The actual amount of Vitamin D supplement you need depends on your particular genes . You will have to vary your intake until you reach the optimal level of 100 - 150.
10. Optimal blood levels of Vitamin D (100 - 150) will help prevent osteoporosis, cardiovascular disease, many cancers including breast cancer, prostate cancer, colorectal cancer , multiple sclerosis, and depression and anxiety.
11. Our bodies can make Vitamin D when the full body is exposed to mid day sunlight for 20 minutes without the use of sunscreen. In Canada, this can only happen during the summer months. The harmful effects of the sun's UVA and UVB rays must be considered.
12. Dark-skinned people, obese people, cancer patients, and veiled-women are all more prone to Vitamin D deficiency and should be even more aware of their blood levels of Vitamin D.
13. Vitamin D should be taken with a meal and is best absorbed by the body when taken with fat (piece of cheese, avocado, olive oil)
14. Optimal levels of Vitamin D are essential in pregnant women for the well-being of the fetus. Blood levels should be taken to determine if supplements are necessary. If mothers who are breast-feeding have low levels of Vitamin D, their babies will not be receiving the Vitamin D levels that they require. Many people suggest that breast fed babies should be receiving Vitamin D supplements. Particular care should be taken by veiled mothers.
15. Calcium is important for the health of our bones and teeth but it must be in balance with the amount of magnesium we consume. Without sufficient Vitamin D , the calcium we consume will not be deposited into our bones . The excess calcium will be absorbed by our blood vessels leading to hardening of the arteries; will be absorbed by our kidneys leading to kidney stones; will be absorbed by the breasts leading to mammogram recalls. This can be prevented by having optimal levels of Vitamin D, by balancing the calcium with magnesium, and by avoiding excess calcium from supplements.
16.Canadians generally get one half the required amount of magnesium , yet magnesium is essential for so many functions including all energy-requiring processes in our cells, protein synthesis, nervous tissue functioning, the making of hormones and neurotransmitters, muscle relaxation, and so much more.
17. The best sources of magnesium are nuts and legumes ,dark green vegetables, whole grains, seafood and meat, and chocolate.
18. We are low in magnesium because our levels are easily depleted by a) excess alcohol b) excess dietary fat c) excess salt and phosphoric acid (found in soda), d) profuse sweating from exercise, menopause, or hyperhidrosis, e) diuretics and other drugs f) physical stress, sleep deprivation, pain, g) environmental stress like noise, pollution, allergies, heat, cold h) emotional stress excitement, anxiety, depression, stress from school exams
19. The consequences of magnesium deficiency are: a) inability to utilize B vitamins and Vitamin D b) depression and anxiety c) diabetes d) collagen disorders e) high blood pressure
20. The signs of magnesium deficiency are a) vascular headaches b) increased urination c) leg cramps and restless leg syndrome d) muscle tension e) irregular heartbeat f) high blood pressure
21. The best way to supplement for magnesium in order to achieve the required 300 - 450 mg daily is by starting with 100 mg. of magnesium glycinate before bed. Every 4 days, increase the amount by 50 mg. until just before your stool gets so soft that it loses its shape. If you develop diarrhea, then you have taken too much. This is the best way to determine your specific and ideal amount of magnesium required for balancing the calcium in your blood, and for the many functions listed above.
22. It goes without saying that we need to reduce our salt intake dramatically.
The old adage definitely holds true. We are what we eat. Changing your diet at any age is well worthwhile. We should all be aiming for "optimal health" as opposed to 'not being sick yet' . We all have the power to alter our diets and we should be motivated to do so if our aim is not only to live a long life, but a long life with quality living until the end. We must realize that our bodies are in a constant state of turn-over and our bodily functions and immunity depend on what we feed our bodies TODAY.
So, why not make today the first day of the rest of your life ... eat healthy! Your body will thank you and so will your teeth........