Where does it all begin? You might think it’s your plate, or maybe even your fork, but I’m going to say it all starts with the mouth. What on earth am I talking about? I’m talking about digestion. If you’ve heard me speak before, you know I have a love of and tend to focus on gut health because of its importance and impact on overall health. And while you might be picturing a messy hose of intestines or even your bathroom habits as I say digestion, how about we start at the top of this long tube that goes from your mouth, all the way through your body and out the other end? Rather than talk about what’s happening further down the tract as I’ve done in previous episodes, let’s talk about what’s happening in your mouth, and the impact that it has on your health.
I believe that’s where the food journey begins; from taste, to temperature, and foods’ aroma that wakes up your senses, to the ecosystem of good and bad bacteria, the approximately 32 teeth (with or without mercury fillings), the skin surrounding the teeth called the gums, all those nerves that you feel as you chomp down on ice cream or the pain of a sinus infection that you feel in your teeth, and let’s not forget your tongue, taste buds and saliva. There is A LOT going on in there that needs your attention, even if you think it’s all fine and dandy, there are a bunch of reasons why it may not be.
Today on EAT THIS with Lianne, your mouth – where the food journey begins and why you need to pay attention to what’s going on in there.
Oral health is not so high on the list of discussions to have as you think about your health, or all that happens in your mouth further to what you have stuck in your teeth. But all that’s going on in your mouth is associated with so many health conditions that I wasn’t even aware of, like obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, rheumatoid arthritis, autoimmune disease, inflammatory bowel disease, premature birth, and even dementia are all directly connected to poor oral health. Can you believe that microbes in the mouth get absorbed and then go up into the brain causing inflammation? No one needs that. We know that your risk of having heart attacks is higher if you have gum disease. And even your weight issues and metabolism are related to what’s going on in your mouth.
I often tell my clients that their stomach doesn’t have teeth and that digestion begins in the mouth, but I’m not always sure they totally get it. Teeth seem to be the obvious headliner of the mouth, and sure they have an important purpose that includes speech (along with the lips and tongue) and of course, chewing your food. Then there’s the interrelation of your saliva, the first digestive enzyme that your meal comes into contact with that’s essential for you to be able to digest and absorb your nutrients from the start line. Your mouth has a particular pH level that’s around 6.7 to 7.6. It drops down into the acidic level when you eat or drink. The pH, for instance, of a can of pop is about 3, and that is where issues with teeth can come from. Salivary amylase is what that watery liquid is in your mouth, and as soon as it touches food that’s getting torn up by your teeth, the journey of digestion has begun. If you’re someone who inhales their meal and chews just enough so you aren’t swallowing the full bite of pizza, burger, pasta or steak, your stomach has a hell of a job to do to break down what you’ve just swallowed and liberate the important vitamins and minerals, which is a large part of why you’re eating in the first place, right?!
I’m going to share some of the key aspects of your mouth that I think that you need to be aware of, and encourage you to ask more questions as you sit in your dentist’s chair ready to have your teeth scraped, drilled, filled or pulled.
First is that each one of your teeth lines up with an energy channel called a meridian (you may have heard of that if you’ve had acupuncture), and each tooth relates to an organ or system in the body. When an organ or system becomes diseased or infected, the associated tooth most likely will express some type of symptom as well. The reverse can happen if you have some dental work done like a root canal or extraction of some sort – either a cracked, infected or a dead tooth, a tooth that’s in the way or if you’ve had your wisdom teeth out. So for instance your wisdom teeth are related to your heart and small intestines. Your front two teeth are related to your bladder and kidneys. There is also a link between each tooth and emotions like anger and your front two teeth too. When you start looking into this, your teeth can tell an incredible story in relation to what’s going on in your body. Here is a tooth meridian chart from Maxwell Dental.
The typical issues are gum disease that can show as blood on your toothbrush or red or pink gums, for instance, and that has been linked with heart attack and cardiovascular disease – that’s because of the potential infection in your gums. It’s not surprising that gum disease or periodontal disease can be supported by taking a good level of vitamin C every day (at least 2000mg per day). And numerous studies have shown the positive effects of vitamin C and minimizing plaque build up in your arteries. Vitamin C helps heal all cells in the body, but particularly in your arteries where cholesterol is laid down as a Band-aid to protect against damage.
Then there are sores in your mouth like ulcers and canker sores. In episode 37, I talked about the effect of gluten and wheat sensitivity and also a lack of vitamin A. Those with weak enamel and those who have had to have a lot of dental work done can have undiagnosed celiac disease so have to avoid all gluten. To find that out can be life changing for overall health.
Then there are more serious issues like low grade infections, stealth pathogens (like Epstein Barr Virus, or staphylococcus) that are hard to detect because you don’t end up with a fever like if you get sick. It’s like a silent infection where there can be issues that you don’t even see on an X Ray, especially after having a root canal. This is a situation that can go totally undetected and yet wreak the most havoc on your body in areas that you would never have thought. Not only from the particular tooth on the meridian that is related to a particular system or organ but also like dementia, as I said off the top. If someone’s immune system can’t contain or fight off a bacteria or virus, it can get to the brain, so it’s not surprising that Alzheimer’s and dementia could be a part of this correlation.
Along with the bad bacteria present that can’t be glossed over, is the healthy microbiome in the mouth. There’s about a 45% consistency between the bacteria that’s in the mouth and the bacteria that is in your digestive tract. How’s this for a stat… You will swallow about 10 billion bacteria per day. And some of those bacteria, when you swallow them, can actually cause inflammation all over your body that can give you joint pain, inflammation in your heart or heart disease, and also in your brain. As with the gut, having more good bacteria in your mouth is key because it is tied to your immune system’s ability to fight off certain types of bacteria. Your individual immune response to the bacteria is really critical and the difference between good health or poor health and disease. Remember that inflammation is your body’s response to capturing something that it knows is not good. When you cut yourself, the inflammation that happens at the cut site is there to trap potential bacteria, and hold it there. It’s the most natural defence mechanism that we have. Everyone’s ability to deal with bacteria can be different, hence one person ending up having a heart attack from a root canal gone bad, to someone else who doesn’t have that same outcome.
Halitosis is bad bacteria smells. And it can smell bad. Wherever there is a smell, like having to use air freshener in the bathroom after a bowel movement, you know there’s bad bacteria around. So if you’ve got bad breath, wicked morning breath, or any time of day, it can be from that build up of bad bacteria and anaerobic bacteria in your mouth. There’s more science behind this so to keep it simple – bad breath can come from a dry mouth that happens from breathing through your mouth, snoring overnight and a lack of saliva in your mouth can really contribute to nasty breath. Foods like onions and garlic are smelly already because of their own sulfur compounds. Refined and processed foods act as food for bad bacteria in your mouth and gut. Protein rich foods like dairy, meat and fish also feed your mouth bacteria, not in a good way. Coffee and juice make breath worse because they’re acidic so your pH changes to acidic too and that’s where bacteria love to breed.
A quick mention about mercury or silver fillings – the FDA released a warning in September 2020 that said that mercury fillings were not acceptable for pregnant women and babies and kids. Well what about the rest of us? There’s no safe level of mercury, zip, nada, just none. Mercury is a known neurotoxin, and some people are better able to detoxify it and that comes down to genetics and others turn into the mad hatter like Alice in Wonderland. If you have them, please find someone who knows what they are doing to take them out. Then you need to get the mercury out of your body, safely. I had to have one removed that was actually breaking down and mercury has turned up in a hair analysis and other tests that I’ve had with doctors like Dr Broockeshire. It’s not good. Check out iaomt.org for more on this and to find a holistic dentist who could help you find out more about what’s going on in your mouth.
What can you do?
Let’s talk about what you can do and eat for good mouth health and see what knock on effect that has on your overall health.
This might seem obvious, but brushing your teeth but with an electric or sonic type toothbrush. My dentist always says to floss but I’m going to be honest and say, I don’t get to it more than once a month. I suck at flossing.
Watch the toothpaste that you use – sodium lauryl sulphate is in 85% of toothpaste, so read that label too. It can cause inflammation, dry mouth, gum irritation, and canker sores, so that’s not going to help keep your saliva production at it’s best and keep that bad bacteria at bay. I use toothpaste that contains Xylitol and I also have mints and gum that has the same main ingredient. Xylitol is a natural sweetener and actually makes the bacteria sluggish. My youngest daughter had a lot of issues with her teeth and cavities, so she had to chew the gum after each meal for a while and even at school. Amazingly it did help. I have heard Therabreath mouth rinse recommended by colleagues but I haven’t tried it for myself yet.
What I have done though is oil pulling with coconut oil that I’ve mixed with peppermint oil. It can help to capture bad bacteria and so help just about everything that I’ve mentioned. Coconut oil is an antioxidant unto itself and has anti-inflammatory powers. Its lauric acid helps kill bacteria related to bad breath and tooth decay. If you’ve been trying to mask your bad breath with mouthwash, know that it tends to kill all bacteria – good and bad – and dry out your mouth, which we know can contribute to bad breath and help the bad bacteria breed. Whereas coconut oil removes bad bacteria and keeps good bacteria, and supports your saliva in keeping your mouth fresh.
How to oil pull – take 1 teaspoon of coconut oil and put it in your mouth. It’ll melt and then you swish it around like mouthwash, but for 20 minutes. This is a good one to do as you get into the bathroom while you’re in the shower, drying your hair, shaving or whatever. Finding 20 minutes to do this can be tricky but it doesn’t have to happen every day, but once a week at least. After 20 minutes, spit the oil out into the garbage, NOT down the sink. I rinse my mouth out with salt water and spit that into the garbage too. It’s toxic stuff and can clog your drain too, so better in the bin. Brush your teeth and off you go.
Another obvious one is to limit or avoid sugar, processed foods and eat more colourful fruits and veggies. The superfoods with all the colour really helps oral health and your teeth. Vitamin D3+K2 (like from my Take This by Lianne liposome spray supplement) helps to keep your jaw bone strong – because it can also be susceptible to osteoporosis as any other bone in your body and as it’s holding your teeth in place, gotta keep your jaw healthy.
Eat more fibre because that’s good for further down the digestive tube (your gut) and take a probiotic, like my Bio Boost.
I can’t emphasize enough to pay attention to what’s going on at the dentist. If you see blood when you’re brushing your teeth, get out that vitamin C stat. My Alka C also has minerals like zinc and magnesium in it, so it helps your cardiovascular and immune systems too.
Feel like going to brush your teeth now? I sure do. I hate that filmy and furry feeling in my mouth so will whip out my toothbrush at will sometimes. I totally notice when I’ve eaten sugar because it doesn’t take long until my mouth feels off. So there you have it. What happens in your mouth affects your overall health from not only the nutrients that you get out of your food, but also how the bacteria in your mouth can really affect your overall health. If you can, find a holistic dentist if this has intrigued you.
Please subscribe and share this far and wide. People need to know more about this to take their health into their own hands. The more you know, the more you can do. Thanks for being along for the ride, thank you for your ratings and comments, and thank you to Chris for your input and of course producer genius! Oh and of course, please remember to EAT THIS, one mouthful at a time!