|Posted on March 17, 2013 at 11:45 PM|
I am sure that the word “fluoride” popped into your head when you read the title of this post, along with flossing, brushing and avoiding sugars. These are important factors to consider, but there is another issue worth a look. Phytic acid.
Phytic acid is found in grains, nuts, seeds and beans, and represents a serious problem in our diets. It is the principal storage form of phosphorus in many plant tissues, especially in the bran portion of grains and seeds. It contains the mineral phosphorus tightly bound in a snowflake-like molecule. In addition to infringing on phosphorus availability, the “arms” of the phytic acid snowflake shaped molecule readily bind with other minerals, such as calcium, magnesium, iron and zinc, making them unavailable as well.
Phytic acid not only grabs on to (chelates) important minerals, but also inhibits enzymes that we need to digest our food, including pepsin (needed for the breakdown of proteins in the stomach), trypsin (needed for protein digestion in the small intestine) and amylase (needed for the breakdown of starch into sugar).
There is a powerful anti-nutritional effect of a diet high in phytate-rich grains with many health problems as a result, including tooth decay (demineralized enamel), poor jaw development (creating tooth crowding), osteoporosis, anemia and digestive problems (the enzymes are inactivated). All resulting from the binding effect of phytic acid to our essential minerals.
Although the health effects are systemic, for now I will focus specifically on teeth. When enamel is poorly formed and the diet isn't adequate in nutrients, the enamel dissolves and decay sets in. Tooth decay is an opportunistic infection that takes advantage of poorly built or maintained teeth. If the diet remains inadequate, the tooth will demineralize, forming a cavity that will need to be filled.
Dr. Weston A. Price, a dentist who traveled and studied isolated populations and their native diets around theworld, was surprised to discover that many native people eating a diet devoid of modern foods had perfect dental structure and little tooth decay. Their teeth were well spaced with plenty of room, and were white and healthy. He studied people all over the world with widely different genes and found the same common factor. When these people were removed from their native environment and switched to a western diet, they would get tooth decay, bone loss and other health problems at the same rate as people already living in the western industrialized countries.
Other doctors have researched this phenomenon and after years of study, it was determined that the health of tooth structure is largely determined by diet. There were three main factors: The presence of enough minerals in the diet. The presence of enough fat soluble vitamins (A, D, E and K) in the diet. The bio-availability of these nutrients and how well the body is absorbing them. This bioavailability is largely influenced by the presence of phytic acid in the diet.
It may be almost impossible to eliminate phytic acid from the diet, since it is found in many of our favorite foods. What should be considered is taking care to minimize the foods that contain the highest amounts. Some food preparation, like soaking and fermenting grains, seeds and nuts before use, can reduce the phytic acid content and should be practiced if the foods are going to be consumed; but in many cases, it is better to avoid these foods completely
Nuts, for instance, have a high phytic acid content which can be greatly reduced by soaking them in salt water overnight and then rinsing and dehydrating in the oven. The same can be done with beans. While this step can be time consuming, it is easily done. However, this procedure can be difficult with grains. (The grain quinoa comes to mind, as I have heard of many digestive problems after eating, when the grain was not properly soaked before cooking.) Grains can be soaked, sprouted and fermented, if consumed at all, but this process will not completely eliminate all phytic acid.
Photo credit Creative Commons: adashofsass
If a dietary program to heal/prevent cavities were designed, it would incorporate the successes of Dr. Price and others' research. It would look something like this:
- Rich in animal foods, particularly full-fat pastured dairy products. Also include meat, organs, fish, bone broths and eggs. Fat soluble vitamins A, D and K are essential.
- Fermented grains only; no unfermented grains such as oatmeal, breakfast cereal, crackers, etc. No breads except true sourdough (avoid lactic acid on ingredients list). Or even better, no grains at all.
- Limit nuts; beans in moderation, only if they're soaked overnight or longer in warm water.
- Starchy vegetables such as potatoes and sweet potatoes as a substitute for grains.
- Cooked and raw vegetables.
- Sunlight, high-vitamin cod liver oil or vitamin D3 supplements.
- A generous amount of pastured butter.
- No industrially processed food.
- A limited quantity of fruit (one piece per day or less), but no refined sweets.
This diet would maximize mineral absorption while providing abundant fat-soluble vitamins. It probably isn't necessary to follow it strictly. For example, if you eat more mineral-rich foods such as dairy and bone broths, you can probably get away with more phytic acid. Or you might be able to heal cavities eating like this for only one or two meals a day, as Dr. Price had demonstrated in his research.
Bottom line, it seems that the secret is to having cavity-free teeth is to have a mineral rich diet, a healthy fat supplement system and a minimal amount of phytic acid foods. This way the teeth can remineralize easily. In essence, cavities can be reversed.
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