In this episode, I am speaking with periodontist Dr. Al Danenberg about oral health, how it is related to gut health, and the easy and natural ways to improve your oral (and overall) health.
Table of Contents
In this podcast, Dr. Al and I discuss:
- The relationship between oral health and gut health (and why we have to take care of both)
- The biggest myths and misconceptions when it comes to dental health and gum disease
- The potential harms antibacterial detergents have on your oral health
- The pros and cons of flossing (and the best way to do it)
- How to prevent tooth decay and cavities without fluoride
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Ari: In this episode, I’m speaking with Dr. Al Danenberg, who is a periodontist, a gum health specialist for over 40 years in private practice. He is one of the leading thinkers in the world around this topic. We get into a deep conversation, first of all, on his story of his bone marrow cancer, his incurable bone marrow cancer that was diagnosed several years ago. We talk briefly about why he thinks he got that cancer, which I think you’ll find insightful. Then we shift gears into talking about his area of expertise, which is, of course, oral health and gum health in particular.
Dr. Al has a lot of novel and certainly contrarian and certainly unconventional ways of thinking and approaching optimizing your oral health. I think you’ll get a lot of valuable insights from this podcast. Enjoy.
Welcome to the show, Dr. Danenberg. Such a pleasure to have you.
Dr. Al: It is an honor. Thanks for the opportunity.
How Dr. Al has been successfully treating his incurable cancer
Ari: First of all, I want to comment on your personal story. You just posted yesterday on your Facebook profile, which I follow, that you’ve been cancer-free. Well, I’m going to let you tell the story here. We’re going to focus on oral health, but your personal story in recent years is so profound. I’d love for you to just share it with people.
Dr. Al: Sure. Of course. It’s a long story because I’m almost 76 years old, but practicing periodontics for 44 years. In September of 2018, I developed some strange pain in my shoulder, which eventually went to my back and my chest. I thought I had pulled a ligament. It turned out that I was diagnosed with incurable bone marrow cancer. It is a type of bone marrow cancer called multiple myeloma, very specific type. It can be treated and actually brought under remission with some type of chemotherapy drugs sometimes, but it’s incurable. The chemotherapy drugs create side effects which decrease the quality of a person’s life, as I see it.
When I had this diagnosis in September 2018, my world was turned upside down. My oncologist wanted me to start chemo the next day, and I had some questions to ask. One of them was, “Why would I do chemo if it’s going to destroy my immune system, which is already damaged and I only have, which he gave me, three to six months to live?” He said, “Well, you’re going to live longer if you were on chemo, but the chemo would only work for a short period of time, we’d need to do a new round of cocktail chemotherapy drugs, more caustic.” I wasn’t a good candidate for stem cells.
On and on, eventually, the chemicals would not work and I would die from the complication of multiple myeloma. All along, my body would be going downhill and my quality of life certainly would suffer. Longevity is not part of my goal. My goal was quality of life. I rejected chemo, created, not created, but I did a lot of research on what could be natural to help my immune system regain the robustness as best as possible, knowing that I never would be cured per se, to help my body heal so that the quality of life could be maintained. That’s where I am. I’ve been doing that.
I’ve had some significant setbacks. Actually, I was in hospice a year later in 2019, literally ready to die. Obviously, that didn’t happen. See, here I am. I’ve shocked my oncologist, done a few things that maybe are out of the ordinary, but certainly within the realm of not only human science, but human nutrition, which is critical. Human nutrition and lifestyle changes. All cancers are a disease of lifestyle. There’s very few wild animals out there that have cancers. Some do, but very few. There are very few primal societies in existence today that have gum disease or tooth decay or chronic diseases or cancer.
There are some reasons for that. It has a lot to do with nutrition, has a lot to do with lifestyle, and certainly, it has a lot to do with not being exposed to toxic elements including excessive exercise or sleep habits, and interestingly, chronic emotional stress. All these factors play into chronic disease, which cancer is one of those. Here I am. I would say I was thriving. I am not in remission. I have not cured cancer. If you look at some of my blood work, certainly it tells the oncologist I have multiple myeloma, but it’s not getting worse, it’s not getting better, and the quality of life is good.
I have good ability to write and think and do the things I want. My big physical limitations basically are related to the cancer eroding the internal surfaces of my bones so that my bones are very brittle like a person with severe osteoporosis. I have quite a number of pathological fractures. Right now, I’m dealing with two rib fractures. It’s a very painful process, but I know what is happening. It’ll heal. In three or four weeks, it’ll be fine, and I’ll go about my normal business. The only thing is I have to be careful.
Ari: Wow. Just a couple quick questions more on this topic before we move to oral health. I’m curious, how would you portray your lifestyle prior to getting cancer? Were you generally health conscious or not very health conscious?
Dr. Al: For the six or seven years prior to my diagnosis in 2018, I was basically eating a paleo diet and living a paleo lifestyle. I was relatively healthy. As a matter of fact, I considered myself the senior poster boy for health. No one ever said that to me, but I thought I was very, very healthy. I was lecturing around the country, writing books, seeing patients, quite a good high level of energy.
Nothing ever indicated I was getting sick. You don’t get cancer the day before you get diagnosed. Cancer takes decades. I do believe my cancer stems from some toxic element exposure, which was quite significant when I was in dental school. We can go into that if you want later on. Basically, I was very, very healthy until I thought I had a torn ligament or something, and it turned out to be this malignancy.
Ari: Wow. I was actually going to ask you if you thought that toxic exposures from the practice of dentistry itself might be related to this.
Dr. Al: I think the practice of dentistry probably contributed to the initiation of the damage in dental school because in dental school, I was in six years of school, four years of dental school, two years in graduate studies to become a periodontist, I was exposed to two main toxic elements. One was free mercury. Unfortunately, even today, dentists not only learn, but are required to put mercury fillings in teeth. We’re playing with and exposing ourselves to free mercury. We would actually play with it and throw it on the floor and see these little beads of metal get smaller and smaller and disappear. Obviously, they vaporize.
The dental schools, certainly in the United States, were probably the most toxic facilities in the entire country. In addition to that, I was exposed to [unintelligible 00:08:31] those ionizing radiation literally every day. Those are dental X-rays. Now, dental X-rays are important. You’re not going to get cancer from seeing your dentist and every now and then they take a dental X-ray, but I am exposed to that literally every day of the clinic because we had 4 dental students that shared 1 dental X-ray, and we had about 120 dental students in the clinic. There are a lot of dental X-ray machines going on and off all the time.
You don’t hear them. You don’t smell them. You don’t feel them. There’s just a little red or green light that goes on or goes off. Who knows how much radiation I was walking through? In those days, we weren’t really as conscious about protecting ourselves as certainly dentists and dental students are today. There was a study that actually was published maybe three or four years ago, maybe a little longer, about dentists in my age group compared to the male population. Dentists in my age group had a significantly higher level of cancer, specifically multiple myeloma, than the general male population.
That didn’t describe why. I’m just explaining why I think the why is there. That toxic exposure, of course, continued with dentistry. Now, when I was a periodontist, we didn’t work with mercury fillings, but we did use X-rays, but not very, very much exposure. We were very careful in how we could protect ourselves and our patient. I think the initial cause was in those years in the late 1960s, early 1970s. All it took was one plasma cell in my bone marrow to become malignant and start to grow and get out of control. Maybe I was involved in such a lifestyle that kept it at bay, I don’t know, but eventually, 44 years later, manifests into this disease.
Ari: Very interesting. I’m very happy to be here with you right now and celebrating–
Dr. Al: I’m happy to be able to breathe and say the same.
Ari: You’re going on how many years now? Is it five years?
Dr. Al: It’s almost five years. December of this year will be five years, yes.
Ari: Since you were diagnosed and given three to six months to live?
Dr. Al: Right.
Ari: Awesome. Keep up the great work, my friend.
Dr. Al: I’m going to try. I think I know how to do it, too, by the way.
The link between gut health and oral health
Ari: Yes. Do you want to give any quick insights into that before we move on to oral health?
Dr. Al: It’s very interesting. What is insightful to make me healthier is the same thing that will help the mouth be healthy because I will tell you, as we get into dentistry and oral disease, that I believe, and from the research I have put together and tried to connect the dots, I believe that dysbiosis in the gut, which means a overpopulation of unhealthy bacteria in the gut– We have 38 trillion microbes in our gut. We’re only made up of 30 trillion human cells. We’re much more microbial than human. These microbial cells serve many, many purposes, but they have to be diversified, meaning there are many, many species with many, many numbers of different species.
When certain species overgrow, they can become pathogenic, they can damage the gut membrane, and penetrate [unintelligible 00:12:16] leaky gut into the bloodstream. Once that systemic chronic inflammation occurs, it can affect every cell in the body, certainly every organ system, and it will change the microbial community in the mouth. We have bad bacteria in the mouth that are under control because they’re in balance with a lot of other good bacteria. Once we allow the bad bacteria to overgrow, we get gum disease, we get tooth decay. If we’re eating the foods that actually cause these pathogenic bacteria to grow more, the disease progresses.
When you’re treating gum disease, tooth decay, you must look at the disease in the gut. If you treat the mouth and you don’t treat the gut, you’ll never get a resolution complete. If you treat the gut and not the mouth, you’ll never get a resolution either because it goes both ways at some point. You have to be cognizant of the bacterial community in the body. You don’t want to kill all these bacteria because you’ll kill the good ones as well as the bad ones. You want to bring the bad ones back into a state of balance so that the whole garden becomes happy in and of itself.
Your microbiome in your gut is as unique as your fingerprint. What is in my gut, if it were healthy, would not necessarily be healthy in your gut. My goal would be for a person that’s in a situation like me, understand the nutrients your body needs to acquire from the proper foods, make sure you don’t have toxic elements in your diet, and your lifestyle doesn’t support toxic elements exposure, and make sure you develop a diverse microbiome in your gut. Then other things like good sleep, good exercise, emotional stress control. These are critical, too.
It’s a lot. You can’t take a pill. You cannot take a pill to get healthy. That’s the big problem that we have in our society today. There are too many doctors out there that I used to have respect for that now sell lots and lots of supplements and they push a lot, a lot of supplements. No different than a physician that writes a lot, a lot of prescription drugs. That’s not the answer, in my opinion. If you have an imbalance in nutrients, maybe that’s a short-term solution, but you must change the diet and you must change the gut microbiome.
The most common myths and misconceptions on dental and gum health
Ari: Yes. Got it. Okay. From here, we’re definitely going to get more into the diet and microbiome aspects of this. I want to ask you a broad question about dental health. First, let me say that this is an area I’ve been doing a deep dive into for the first time in my life, in really just the last three or four months. I’ve spent many, many hundreds of hours digging into the scientific literature around dental health and periodontal health.
My perception, after spending those months doing this, is that there’s an enormous gap between what we know in the scientific literature and what common dental practice is and recommendations are. I think that there’s a lot going on there, especially when it comes to the oral microbiome. I’m curious, from your perspective, what you think are some of the biggest myths or areas of misunderstanding when it comes to dental health and gum health.
Dr. Al: I’m very controversial, so some people are going to turn this podcast off when they hear what I say. I don’t know that you have to have your teeth cleaned every three or six months. I don’t know that you have to remove your dental plaque or calculus. I will tell you that there are skeletal remains of Homo sapiens, the first Homo sapiens 300,000 years ago in Morocco, that the jaw of that individual has all of his teeth. The chewing surfaces are relatively worn down, so he’s got to be in his at least late 20s, early 30s to get that much wear.
There is no tooth decay on X-ray of the jaw. There’s no bone damage in the jaw. There’s no active periodontal disease because there’s a lot of junk between the teeth that’s calcified, which is dental plaque has become tartar or calculus. Tartar and calculus, plaque is not harmful. As a matter of fact, dental plaque is healthy. It is a healthy biofilm until it’s not. It doesn’t become unhealthy until, number one, the gut microbiome goes haywire and changes it or there is damage to certain teeth that irritate the gum just like a splinter would irritate the skin of your finger if you stuck it with it, but the oral microbiome is in balance.
The dental plaque around the surface where the gum meets the tooth does three very important jobs. One, it’s a gatekeeper that allows nutrients, certain minerals from the saliva, to penetrate and go into the root to remineralize if necessary. In other words, prevents tooth decay or hardens the tooth. It has chemical buffers in the dental plaque to keep the pH at 5.5 or less acidic.
You can’t get tooth decay unless the acid level gets more than 5.5 for a period of time, so the dental plaque actually is anti-caries or anti-decay functioning. In addition to that, the dental plaque, which is made up of several 100 microbes, produces hydrogen peroxide that literally kills potentially pathogenic that is floating in the mouth that wants to get into where the gum and tooth margins are, but it can’t because the peroxide kills it. Dental plaque is very healthy until it’s not healthy. That’s a big myth.
Ari: Let’s dig into some aspects of this. First of all, the conventional paradigm around periodontal disease, around gum disease, is one that’s very much centered around the development of plaque and the notion that as plaque develops around the gum line, it’s stimulating inflammation around the gums, and that this is creating these pockets and allowing for the infiltration of bad bacterial species, anaerobic bacterial species to go under the gum line, which results in now plaque biofilms being formed by these anaerobic bacterial colonies, fusobacterium nucleatum, and tannerella forsythia, and P. gingivalis and a number of others. First of all, how can we reconcile that conventional paradigm which is talked about in many, many of the studies that I’ve been reading over the last several months with the paradigm that you’ve presented here?
Dr. Al: Unfortunately, those stories, those studies are looking at the continuum of infection. The beginning of the infection, like the Big Bang theory, if you wanted to believe in that, started out with a bang, and then all of a sudden cosmos forms and is continuing to form. The big bang is occurring in the gut, and that gut is creating an inflammatory element to allow the microbial community to change. Now, dentists are the first medical healthcare professionals to see this change, and it makes sense when you see this change, you say, “Oh my God. The gums are unhealthy and infections are spreading into the bloodstream, therefore the gums are the cause.”
The gums are somewhat of the cause, but it’s along the continuum of disease. If you want to know where it started, look at the gut, got into the mouth, and now look at the mouth. All of this stuff that is changing in the mouth is being caused by the gut, for the most part, and now it is creating infection and inflammation to pour into the bloodstream, to pour into nerve canals, to go into fascia between muscles and getting into other areas of the body without affecting the circulatory system. Yes, all that is true, but that’s not necessarily where it started. Dentists want to kill all these bacteria.
It makes logical sense to think that way, but that’s not really what should be done. If the bacteria is out of control, and you need localized medicaments to get it under control, and you’re going to kill some bacteria to do that, that’s okay as long as you understand what the collateral damage is and take precautions to protect that, meaning regrow the bacteria in the mouth into a healthy state and regrow the gut microbiome and heal the gut lining. You don’t want to kill and sterilize the mouth, which never should be sterile. Does that make sense?
Ari: It does. There’s one other layer to the story of is plaque healthy or not that I think is important. You said it’s healthy until it’s not.
Dr. Al: Yes.
The link between metabolic health and gum disease
Ari: We’re living in a population where roughly 80% of the population is pretty metabolically unhealthy, is overweight or–
Dr. Al: It’s even higher now. The study was shown that it was 88% three years ago. More recent studies showed that it’s 92%, so we’re a very sick society. Do we have unhealthy dental plaque or not, or healthy dental plaque? The far majority is unhealthy. There is a study that was published in the early 2010 range where it showed that the adult US population, 92% have gum inflammation or gingivitis. That’s an epidemic. Why is that so? It’s because the plaque is unhealthy because the gut is unhealthy because we’re metabolically unhealthy and our diet and toxic elements and other issues that I mentioned are out of whack.
The impact of antibacterial detergents on the microbiome
Ari: You’re saying, basically, in let’s say, a young person who is metabolically healthy, who is eating a pristine diet, who has a healthy lifestyle, if they have some dental plaque formation, that plaque should not be pathologized and is actually would be considered, essentially, healthy plaque that’s performing normal healthy roles in the mouth. Is that accurate to say?
Dr. Al: Yes, absolutely. As a matter of fact, if you look at those individuals, which are few and far between, if you were to remove the dental plaque, there’s no gum inflammation, there’s no bleeding, there’s no alveolar bone or jawbone damage, there is no infection. The dental plaque is serving a purpose. What happens, for example, in the COVID crisis where you had to clean your hands with alcohol rinses 8, 10, 20 times a day? What happened to the skin of your hands? Generally, for many people, it got red and chapped and chafed and it was painful.
Ari: I actually developed eczema that was started by excessive use of alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
Dr. Al: Do you know why? You destroyed the microbiome in your skin, which is not very big compared to the gut microbiome. When you’re killing the natural bacterial barriers of our body– These are natural, healthy biofilms. We were created with that. We think bacteria are the culprits, but only the pathogenic ones that are overgrowing are culprits. They need to be brought back into balance. You don’t want to kill P. gingivalis to the point where it’s not there. Every healthy mouth has P. gingivalis. Every healthy mouth has strep mutans. P. gingivalis being one of the big bacterium to cause periodontal disease.
Strep mutans is one of the big bacterium that causes tooth decay. Everybody has it. You don’t want to kill these bacteria. You want to let them stay in balance because they actually create other bacteria to stay in balance. You kill the really potentially pathogenic bacterium and other commensals can overgrow and become other problems. You’ve got to understand there is a balance here. Let’s get the balance back in order and don’t start killing it.
You don’t want to use mouthwashes and toothpaste that are antimicrobial. You don’t want to use xylitol that stops the formation of dental plaque because then you don’t have this protective barrier. You won’t have dental disease, but you will have lots of other changes in the body because the mouth bacteria serve a purpose. That’s hard to get to people that are in the know that can treat people and educate people when they’re in a different paradigm.
Ari: One of the areas that is apparent to me, as I’ve done this deep dive into this topic for the last few months, is the oral microbiome. I’ve spent a lot of time trying to find information on the oral microbiome. Interestingly, there’s hardly anything available online in as far as written stuff written by experts with specific guidance around specific information and research. These bacterial species are doing this function. Here’s how we support those bacterial species. Very little exists. There’s some information that I found in the scientific literature that has not made it to general public awareness yet. It only exists in the scientific literature.
In general, I think there’s that whole field of the oral microbiome seems, by my estimation, to be in its infancy, even relative to the gut microbiome, which I think is probably a hundredfold more advanced. Probably, the gut microbiome, our understanding of it is probably still in its infancy now. Now, having said that, there is one really interesting area which doesn’t make any sense to me. That is when we look at the gut microbiome right now, everyone knows that it’s a bad idea to be using agents in the gut microbiome that are sterilizing agents that kill off lots of species of bacteria.
We know that the use of antibiotic agents is one of the biggest factors that leads to dysfunctional gut health and leads to leaky gut and dysbiosis and ongoing gut problems. Yet when we are engaging with the oral microbiome and dental health, all of the sudden, what has become normalized in conventional dental practice and recommendations and all of the standard recommendations that we see for dental hygiene from all the so-called experts, is to chronically use sterilizing agents in the mouth.
My prediction is that 5 or 10 years from now, we will look back at what we’re recommending for decades, using all of the chlorhexidine and alcohol and hydrogen peroxide and all these different sterilizing agents in the mouth chronically, we will look back in horror that we ever recommended this when we– I think that will be the case when we actually understand the oral microbiome. Do you agree with my assessment of that?
Dr. Al: 100%. Absolutely. Chlorhexidine has other problems because it creates genetic malfunctioning. It is damaging to the nuclear membrane and damages the DNA.
Ari: Now, I want to suggest something else. This is something I learned from Mark Burhenne, I think is his last name. I think you know him.
Dr. Al: Burhenne?
Ari: Burhenne. Yes, Burhenne.
Dr. Al: Burhenne.
The potential downsides of essential oil and colloidal silver in oral health
Ari: He runs a website called Ask the Dentist and a podcast under that name. I know you did an interview with him a while back. He talks about how not only are all the conventional dental paradigms around this wrong, with the recommendation of the use of all these sterilizing antiseptic compounds in toothpaste and mouthwashes and all this sort of stuff, but he even argues that basically, all the natural products have got it wrong, too, by recommending the use of things like essential oils and colloidal silver.
Dr. Al: First of all, colloidal silver and essential oils are not natural for the mouth. Colloidal silver is highly antimicrobial. Essential oils are highly antimicrobial and indiscriminate, so they kill everything. Some kill more than others, but they kill everything. Why use it?
Ari: This was kind of a revelation for me because I thought as a natural health-minded person, I had been using products with essential oils for many, many, many years, but I always had in the back of my head, well, how do we know that these– They have these antibacterial properties, which are advertised as a good thing, but how do we know that they’re selectively antimicrobial to only the harmful pathogenic species, but not the beneficial species?
Dr. Al: Let me ask you a quick question. Why use anything in the mouth to start with? What’s the purpose of the mouthwash or toothpaste to start with?
Ari: It’s crazy that you’re asking me that because that’s the question I asked myself for the first time in my whole life a week ago.
Dr. Al: If you want a nice flavor in your mouth, eat raw honey. Oh, by the way, raw honey kills some of the really pathogenic bacteria, by the way. You can brush your teeth with raw honey and you’ll do very, very well interestingly. If you want to have a minty taste–
Ari: That’s a shocking statement for most people. Brush your teeth with raw honey–
Dr. Al: I can show you statistical medical literature regarding that, and I’ve written numerous blogs about that.
Ari: Yes, I’ve seen blogs and the research.
Dr. Al: You want a nice minty taste? Take a mint leaf and chew on it if you really want that taste, but do you need any of that? No. You don’t need toothpaste to brush your teeth. If you have unhealthy dental plaque, you don’t need toothpaste. I work with a company that is very natural in a toothpaste and I like it as taste goes, but do I need to clean my mouth with toothpaste? No. Do you need to clean your mouth? Well, I think so. We are living in a society where lots of toxic elements are in foods.
We’re eating foods that we think are healthy that are loaded with anti-nutrients that bind to minerals in the mouth and create oxalates and lectins that damage the gut microbiome. We can talk about that later if you want, but if we’re going to clean our mouth, and we have some unhealthy dental plaque, use a mechanical method to remove the unhealthy dental plaque. It’s easy to do. Use a soft bristle toothbrush. Use a little bit of water, maybe some Himalayan salt in the water.
You want to use something to neutralize the acid in your mouth for some reason because you’re eating something that’s very acid or you have some coffee stain or stain on the enamel tooth, use a little baking soda, but you don’t have to use those. Just dip the toothbrush in a little bit of water with some Himalayan salt and brush your teeth. The bristles, when you’re cleaning the gum correctly, will remove that soft, unhealthy dental plaque. It’ll leave the pellicle, which is the base of the dental plaque, so new, healthy dental plaque will grow on it, and you’re good to go.
Brush your tongue, clean between the teeth with the little brushes that are designed to do that, brush the gum surfaces on the inside the cheek area and the tongue area, and you will have a healthy mouth if your gut is healthy. If you’re unhealthy in your gut, no matter what you do in your mouth, you’re going to have a disruptive or dysbiotic garden of bacteria in your mouth. The reason there’s not a lot of research is because everybody has different types of bacteria with different concentrations.
Like I said in the beginning, your gut microbiome, which is much more diverse, is unique to you as your fingerprint is. How can everybody have the same gut microbiome to be healthy? That doesn’t work. As a matter of fact, there’s something called fecal microbial transplants where a person that’s very healthy, their fecal material is injected, in one way or another, to an unhealthy person with an unhealthy gut microbiome. Some people get very healthy. Some people get sicker because that microbiome is not compatible with their overall health and wellness signature. You need to make sure that what you should have grows bigger and better and not being disturbed by any toxic elements.
Ari: How do we balance the almost two elements of what you’re saying? The downplaying of the common practices around dental hygiene that people say are so important. You need to brush your teeth with the toothpaste and floss two times a day and remove all this dental plaque, combined with this other aspect of what you’re saying, which is do you really need to do anything? Why do you even need to use a product? Why do you even need to remove what’s going on there because plaque is healthy? How do we synthesize everything you’re saying? Should we be focused on scrubbing and removing the plaque from our teeth or not?
Dr. Al: We should be focused on the way we’re eating and how we’re contributing to a healthy gut, number one. Number two, yes, brush and floss and clean your teeth because it feels good. Is it critical from a health standpoint? Probably not if, that’s a big if, you’re eating a nutrient-dense, anti-inflammatory diet, and your gut is healthy and diverse. If those things are in play, you’re in good shape. The primal societies today in this world, which are not very many, have very, very few dental problems or chronic diseases, and they’re not brushing their teeth with toothpaste and over-the-counter toothpaste, and they’re not rinsing their mouth with chlorhexidine.
How come they have healthy mouths and healthy gum tissue, no bleeding? It’s because they’re not infected. Why is your skin nice and clear? If you take a swab of your skin, you’re going to grow, in a petri dish, all kinds of bacteria and yeast and all kinds of stuff, but it’s in balance. Start rubbing your hands with alcohol, like you said before, and you develop eczema or something of a skin rash because you have damaged the protective layer of your microbiome.
Don’t damage it. Just allow it to be what it’s supposed to be. You’ll wash your face, but you’re not going to wash your face with chemicals that are going to kill bacteria. You don’t use a deodorant antimicrobial soap. You don’t even have to use soap to clean your body. Nice, hot water, and a nice scrub brush or whatever, and a washcloth, and you can clean your body very well. You don’t have to kill bacteria to do that. That’s not the right way to clean your body, or your mouth, or your gut.
Ari: I’ve actually gone periods of several weeks at a time without using any soap when I shower, just using water, and I don’t smell. I’ve confirmed it with other people, not just my own perception. It’s not a case of everyone likes their own brand. I’ve actually asked many people if I smell bad, and it’s fine. It’s very interesting to see that we’ve developed this whole line, this whole culture around all of the use of all these personal care products from shampoo and conditioner for our hair, to soaping every aspect of our body, to multi-product protocols to clean the skin on our face, to perfumes to smell a certain way.
Dr. Al: We want to smell not like humans. We don’t want to smell like a human. I don’t understand that. You can wash your hair with honey. It’s a humectant. It keeps the natural oils in place, but it cleans. Honey is phenomenal medicine that only used for only 5,000 years. Honey is not a gimmick today. Raw honey has lots and lots of medical medicinal purposes, but it tastes great, and it’s not a sugar dessert, although you can use it as a sugar dessert.
Ari: What do you mean it’s not a sugar dessert? It’s not just a sugar dessert?
Dr. Al: I mean it’s not like powdered sugar on strawberries, which is all refined carbohydrates. This is raw honey. It’s not refined in any way. It’s not like you would make a cake. You’re not going to bake a honey cake. You’re going to eat raw honey. It has the purpose, because it may taste sweet, may have the purpose of satisfying a dessert taste that you have or desire, but the medicinal purposes, biologically, are numerous. There’s over 200 biologically active chemicals in raw honey. Different honeys have different properties as you know. In general, honey is a miraculous food and medicine. If you had a cut on your skin, didn’t want to heal well, put honey on it, maybe put a little piece of gauze because it’s kind of sticky, it’ll heal very nicely.
Flossing – the right and the wrong way to do this
Ari: Talk to me about flossing. I’ve heard you express some views on flossing that are also somewhat contrarian or that suggest potential for harm from flossing, at least in flossing in certain ways. What’s your take on that? You’ve also mentioned the use of interdental brushes and picks.
Dr. Al: Yes. Dental floss makes all the sense in the world to remove fibrous material that’s stuck between the teeth where one tooth touches another tooth called a contact area. If you’re eating, let’s say, a piece of meat or whatever, and you get something stuck between the teeth where the teeth literally touch one another, dental floss is great to remove that. Dental floss, if you floss up and down slightly, if there is some heavy plaque, it will remove that a little bit. Dental hygienists recommend, for the most part, take the floss all the way down under the gum so that you’re getting under the gum, and floss up and down.
When you try to floss under the gum, most people are very aggressive. That floss will cut the gum like a hot knife will cut butter, and you will cut the gum. Every time you floss in that same way, the gum will heal with a cleft or a scar that now is a nidus for other bacteria to grow. You can actually create more gum disease if you do that. When you want to clean between the teeth where the gum and the tooth meet, the best method is to use a little interproximal brush.
Now, many companies make those brushes. One is called TePe, T-E-P-E. Another is called GUM, G-U-M. The TePe, I like because it doesn’t break easily. It’s with silicone bristles. You literally move it in and out between the teeth at the gum line. Those multi-silicone bristles can remove excess dental plaque, but doesn’t strip the plaque clean off the tooth. That’s the most effective way to clean.
Ari: It doesn’t go beneath the gum line so there’s no risk of-
Dr. Al: It does not go beneath the gum line.
Ari: -cutting, creating that scar tissue. I guess a dental hygienist would say, “But there’s some plaque beneath the gum line, so we need to get down in there.”
Dr. Al: The plaque is healthy if it’s healthy. If it’s not healthy, now we’re dealing with disease. We have to change our therapeutics now. If you have gum inflammation and infection, but no damage in the bone, it’s called gingivitis. You can cure your own gingivitis. If a broken tooth or a bad filling exists, that has to be taken care of. Let’s say your teeth are virgin, meaning it doesn’t have any restorations or fillings or breaks or whatever, and you have gingivitis, you have inflammation and or bleeding of the gums, if you change your diet and you get your gut healthy, the gingivitis will go away without any other treatment. Once it goes beyond gingivitis, and it gets under the gum, and the bacterial signature changes, more anaerobic bacteria getting into the gum surface where now there’s bone structure, and now it’s causing bone to melt away, now the disease is called periodontitis. It will not go away if you’re cleaning your mouth properly, and it will not go away if you just make your gut healthy. That needs to be treated therapeutically. Generally, if you have periodontitis, meaning there is alveolar, or jaw bone damage, you need to do something to kill the very virulent bacteria and help the bone to grow back, and help the gum to seal back to the tooth.
The method that I use, and I’ve used it six or seven years before I retired, which was phenomenal, is a laser procedure, which is very patient-friendly, called the Laser-Assisted New Attachment Procedure, LANAP, L-A-N-A-P. There is a very specific wavelength of the laser that is specifically designed to kill P. gingivalis, which is interesting the way it does it, and it stimulates bone cells, stem cells in the jaw bone to regrow some of the bone that’s been damaged. It’s not a cutting procedure, patients, the next day, can go about their normal routine.
Dr. Al: If they’ve not– If they have a bad habit or bad diet and poor gut health, the disease will come back, but if they concurrently treat the gut and change the diet, along with treating periodontitis, you’re going to get a great result. In addition, you will treat the systemic inflammation that causes all kinds of autoimmune diseases, Alzheimer’s, hyperthyroidism, eczema. All these diseases are related to the gut, and the damage to the gut epithelial barrier or the Leaky Gut. It’s amazing what you can do if you do it in the right order.
Is fluoride necessary?
Ari: Yes. Okay. Are there any other myths around this topic of dental health, dental hygiene that you think are important to address?
Dr. Al: Yes. You need dental flora, and you need the application of fluoride on your teeth every six months to prevent tooth decay.
Ari: Or every day. It’s in a lot of toothpastes and mouthwashes, and the drinking water supply in the United States.
Dr. Al: Totally incorrect. Well, the drinking water has no effect other than damaging your body, but the topical fluoride can create a barrier at the root surface. This barrier is like taking Rust-Oleum paint and painting it on a iron pipe that’s already rusted. Doesn’t make sense. That’s not the way to stop tooth decay. Yes, it hardens the root of the tooth. Okay. It’s a barrier, so it’s going to do science of shield, but it’s not natural. You want to stop tooth decay. You have to eat the foods that prevent pathogenic bacteria from overgrowing. You have to have a healthy gut, and you don’t want to eat foods or drink liquids that are very acidic.
Because once the acid level drops below 5.5, and it stays there, the tooth root and the enamel dissolve. You don’t want to do that. You have to eat the right foods, and if you eat something that’s very acid, wash your mouth out with some water to get that acid level to get diluted, but you don’t need fluoride for sure. When I was in practice, and I was a periodontist [unintelligible 00:49:06] a general dentistry practice, I remember moms would come in and literally scratch her head and said, “I do not know what’s wrong with my son.
He’s got all kinds of tooth decay. He eats so well, and I just don’t know”, and she’s drinking a can of Mountain Dew. The kid’s drinking Mountain Dew, not to say Mountain Dew is bad, but Mountain Dew is not healthy, like any other carbonated sugary soda. They drink it all day long, they drink it like water. They drink it with their food, they drink it as a liquid to hydrate themselves, which is not true, and this creates tremendous acid as well as sugar, that feeds the potentially pathogenic Strep Mutans to overgrow and cause tooth decay.
You don’t need fluoride, but you have to understand how to prevent tooth tooth decay naturally.
Ari: What do you think of Hydroxyapatite? I know that-
Dr. Al: Oh, great question.
Ari: -Mark Barini is high on it, and I’ve personally started using it [crosstalk]
Dr. Al: I’ve had this conversation with him. He’s not high on it-
Ari: Oh, really?
Dr. Al: Hydroxyapatite, yes, but there’s two forms. One is nano-hydroxyapatite, which there are some medical studies that shows that it invades the nuclear membrane and can damage the DNA and the nucleus of individual cells in different parts of the body. I would not even want to put that in my body if there’s a potential for damage. Them there are micro-crystallized hydroxyapatite, which is basically ground bone from grass-fed cattle, for example, that do the same thing without the smallness of the particle to penetrate the cytoplasm and damage the nuclear membrane of the cell. Mark and I have had this conversation and he understands is an agreement that MCHA, micro crystallized hydroxyapatite, might be the better of the two hydroxyapatites to put into toothpaste.
If I were manufacturing toothpaste today and I wanted to substitute something for fluoride, which I certainly would want to, and I wanted to have a toothpaste, I would consider MCHA, not nano-hydroxyapatite. There are people that will totally disagree with me, but if you read the literature and you see in other literature that shows nano-hydroxyapatite has the potential to be cytotoxic to cells, why would you do that? Would you drink a glass of water where somebody said, “Oh, there’s a little arsenic in it, but it tastes great. Drink it.” I don’t think you’re going to drink it. Why use nano-hydroxyapatite when something else is more efficient? Why use anything–
Ari: Just to play devil’s advocate there, I have looked at the research and there are many studies. It seems to be that there are more studies, because I’ve tried to look at the comparison between the two. There are more studies on nano-hydroxyapatite showing very clear positive effects on remineralization of the tooth surface. [crosstalk]
Dr. Al: If you look at fluoride studies, everyone will tell you that it’s the best thing that you could put on a tooth and it doesn’t harm the body-
Dr. Al: -yet it causes quite a number of potential side effects.
Ari: I saw some obscure animal experiments that involved ingesting huge amounts of nano-hydroxyapatite or where it was injected directly into the bloodstream but I haven’t seen any research that would lead me to believe that there’s a safety concern over using very small amounts in the mouth as opposed to ingesting large amounts.
Dr. Al: The question is, does dose matter? If it does matter, and it has potential cytotoxic elements to it, why do it? Why are you rolling the dice?
Why the dose makes the poison may not apply
Ari: Let me maybe place this in a context. I’m not necessarily disagreeing with you because maybe you’ve read the research on this or different research that I haven’t found yet, but the same kind of logic could be used for any innocuous substance. Let’s say you drink water, everything’s got an LD50. We could look at LD50 as lethal dose 50. It’s half of the amount that kills you. We can establish that lethal dose for every ingredient that exists. Even things like salt or water or caffeine or lots of other things, including many things that are associated with health benefits, or necessary for health like water or salt. Water, if you drink two gallons of it in the next 10 minutes, you can cause permanent brain damage and put yourself into a coma. If you drink– [crosstak]
Dr. Al: Oh, let me ask you a question. Are you going to do that?
Ari: Hold on one second. Let’s say you drink a full cup of table salt in the next, I don’t know, two minutes. I don’t know what the exact LD50 of salt is. I forget off the top of my head. If you take enough salt in a short enough period of time, it can be lethal. It can be very harmful. The studies that I saw on nano-hydroxyapatite were like that. They were like huge amounts that were injected directly into the bloodstream of animals or something to that effect. It didn’t seem analogous to using very small amount amounts in the context of toothpaste. Having said that, that’s just how I’ve interpreted the data, but I in general would agree with a bias towards something natural like ground-up bone as opposed to a synthetic compound like Nano-hydroxyapatite.
Dr. Al: You’re going to use Nano-hydroxyapatite, which may have a potential, and I think I have some studies that show kidney cells being damaged and a few other cells, human cells being damaged. Nonetheless, potentially there, and you’re putting them in toothpaste that you’re using probably at least twice a day, probably swallowing some of it, and it’s beginning to accumulate day after day, year after year, decade after decade. That’s the problem. Even if you’re going to drink a lot of water, are you going to do that day after day?
No. Even if you drink too much salt water, are you going to continue to do that day after day? No. Are you going to use the toothpaste because it has a great flavor, it just has Nano-hydroxyapatite, which has no taste, and you’re going to swallow it because it really tastes good and the toothpaste will tell you, “Oh, it’s so good you can even eat it.” You’re going to eat it. Why not. You’re a kid, you’re going to swallow it. How many tubes of toothpaste with fluoride have poisoned children because they ate it like food?
Ari: Yes. I think– [crosstalk]
Dr. Al: I think that’s a problem.
Ari: That’s a useful context to interpret it is, the other compounds with known– With I think much more well-established cytotoxicity that are already in conventional dental products and natural dental products. We know that fluoride, as you said, is highly neurotoxic, and it’s ubiquitous in conventional dental products, and there’s data on essential oils showing toxicity to fibroblast in gum tissue.
Dr. Al: All you have to do is give it time, because Nano-hydroxyapatite is new. Nanomedicine is not new, but I’m not so sure nanomedicine make sense. I don’t know if you want to go into something like this and get your podcast censored, but there’s something called a COVID vaccine that uses nanoparticles. Lo and behold, these nanoparticles that have not stayed in the arm have gone to every organ system in the body. Why? Nanoparticles have the potential to penetrate all cytoplasm in the cytoplasmic membrane in every cell. Why do that when there are more healthy alternatives?
Let’s say there’s no alternative for tooth decay other than Nano-hydroxyapatite. Okay, I’ll give you that, but that’s not the case, so why use potentially toxic elements. That’s what happened to me. Why would I do this? Would I do this to myself? If I knew that free mercury and ionizing radiation that I was exposed to on a daily basis could even have caused multiple myeloma, maybe I wouldn’t have gone into dentistry. Maybe. Let’s be honest with ourselves. How much risk do you want to take? If you’re a risk taker, do it. I don’t care. If you’re smart enough to say, “I want to control my risks. I’m not feeling so great anyhow. One more toxic element could put me over the load. Am I going to do that to myself?” I think no, and I can tell you, I have better ways, easier ways, less expensive ways to treat tooth decay and prevent tooth decay than putting Nano-hydroxyapatite in a toothpaste that you may eat on a daily basis.
In 10 years, the research will finally show. How many physicians in the 1930s and ’40s recommended Camel cigarettes to their patients and they provided Camel cigarettes to all the veterans of war. How long did it take the industry to convince the public that is causing lung cancer? Today, it’s a no-brainer. Just why do it? I don’t understand. Why do it? If the argument is maybe it is or maybe it isn’t that side of toxic. Okay, what’s the degree you want to stop at? I’m not going to drink water that is in rusty pipes. Maybe it doesn’t have [unintelligible 00:59:48] [crosstalk] that might be unhealthy. [crosstalk] I’m not going to take the risk.
Ari: Again, I think all of that same logic should be also applied to fluoride, to sodium laureth sulfate-
Dr. Al: I agree, and that’s why [crosstalk]
Ari: -and to essential oils.
Dr. Al: I agree. That’s why I don’t think it’s necessary and should be used. I don’t recommend that to anybody. That’s why a lot of people think I’m off the wall, because I don’t sell these products. I don’t want to sell these products. I don’t want to recommend these products. Activated charcoal, bentonite clay. Why? Activated charcoal, people use it to think they whiten their teeth. It dissolves the enamel better than anything and it doesn’t come back. Bentonite clay binds the minerals in the saliva. Why do you want to do that? Because the minerals are important to get under the gum tissue. Why do you want to do that? Bentonite clay has its purpose. If you’re poisoned, it needs maybe something to bind the poisonous material, but it’s therapeutic for a short period of time. Not to be used on a daily basis.
Ari: At 76 years old, do you have good dental health?
Dr. Al: Yes, no gum disease whatsoever. It amazes everybody. Because I should have such a terrible immune system and a terrible gut that my gum should be bleeding all the time. Do you know what the term alpha diversity means? It means the degree of variety of bacteria in your gut. Since I’ve done what I’ve done and I’ve had my alpha diversity tested, I’m in the 97th percentile. Meaning only 3% of the entire healthy, whatever that means, human population has a better microbiome in their gut than me. Here I am with multiple myeloma and curable bone marrow cancer with a healthier gut than the majority of the people that are out there that are supposedly healthy. No gum disease, no bleeding gums, no tooth decay.
Dr. Al: It’s not excellent. It’s a matter of understanding the cause and to treat the cause is not difficult. To believe in the cause is the difficult part. I try to get the word out. A lot of people think I’m crazy. I have nothing in the game except my health.
Can we enhance the oral microbiome?
Ari: Regarding the oral microbiome, again, this was something I really found a paucity of literature online among popular health experts and even in the scientific literature it was quite hard to find any good solid evidence-based recommendations about specific actions that can be taken to enhance the oral microbiome. I did find a few things, but I’m curious what you know on that subject.
Dr. Al: To enhance the oral microbiome almost says how do we put certain bacteria in the mouth to live? That’s not your job. The job of the oral microbiome was created when you were born. The job now is to maintain that garden of bacteria that works for you. What is supportive of that oral microbiome? Not using oral probiotics to grow new bacteria in your mouth. It’s to make sure nothing in the mouth is disturbed and allows this normal garden bacteria to become as diverse as possible. Again, we come back to the foods that we’re eating and I am an animal-based individual and I don’t eat steak and eggs every day, but I eat meat and I eat a lot of fat and I eat a lot of organs and cartilage and bone marrow and blood, things that maybe people are opposed to.
This is the way our species has evolved for at least 300,000 years and there are papers that show 2.5 million years. Why am I going to change? If you do those things, the microbiome takes care of itself. If it’s sick and infected, you might need to be helping it. If you had your eczema, maybe you needed to have some medical treatment to get it back into proper order and then go back to the normal lifestyle with not damaging your microbiome to let it heal and stay healthy. If you need a systemic antibiotic, which is probably a terrible thing to do, but if you have such an infection, that’s a life-death situation or could become one, use the systemic antibiotic, but understand the methods to regrow that gut microbiome and not because I think certain bacteria need to be in the gut. I just want to have the normal varieties regrow to become as diverse as possible. Does that make sense?
Ari: Yes. Are there specific foods that you feel have an impact on bolstering specific bacterial species that are known to perform key functions?
Dr. Al: Well, I’ll go in the other direction, I think that there are foods that damage the gut microbiome. It doesn’t allow the normal bacteria to grow. I would call these in general, antinutrients. These are chemicals that are, many are in plants that are protective mechanisms of plants. For example, if a lion was chasing you, I don’t know how great you are in killing lions, but you might want to run away from the lion, but you have the ability to run away from a disaster because you have energy, you have feet, you have muscles.
A plant can’t run away from an animal that’s going to eat it. It makes chemicals in its roots, in its stems, and its leaves so that if an animal starts to eat it, it may get sick and it won’t eat all of it or all of the species of that plant.
Eventually, when it creates seeds, it can propagate their seeds throughout the land. Makes sense, right? This is the way it is. These chemicals generally are called antinutrients, some more damaging than others. Some will damage animals, some will damage humans. We don’t have the enzymes to break down these antinutrients, but we eat the foods all the time. Some of them include oxalates, some of them include lectins, some include phytates. Certainly, gluten has lots of lectins in it. It’s a refined carbohydrates. These are the foods that can damage the gut microbiome.
When the gut microbiome becomes damaged, the immune system says, “This isn’t going to work.” It gets activated and it tries to repair. That damage to the gut microbiome can damage the layer of the, one-cell layer membrane of the gut causing it to break down and allow junk that’s normal for the gut, you’ll normally defecate it, but it could seep into the bloodstream and create problems. The secret here is to support a healthy gut microbiome, you need to make sure you’re not damaging your gut microbiome. The foods that have antinutrients in my diet are no-nos.
The foods that don’t have antinutrients, but have nutrients that are highly bioavailable and offer every nutrient my body requires are animal-based. I do eat honey, raw honey, which actually is an animal-based product and I eat some fruit because fruits have very, very little lectins or oxalates. These are the seeds that the plant wants us to propagate anyhow for them. Plants have a lot of problems.
Are plant foods beneficial for health?
Ari: Okay. There’s a few things. How would you make sense of the fact that, for example, foods, consumption of foods that are rich in lectins, for example, beans and lentils are consistently linked with positive health outcomes and lower rates of various diseases?
Dr. Al: Sure. When you take a unhealthy diet, like the standard American diet, and you substitute foods that are not high in lots of chemicals, you’re going to get healthier. I’m not a vegan and I don’t support a vegan diet, but it’s much healthier than a standard American diet of fries, a soda, and a burger from a quick restaurant, fast food restaurant. It’s degrees. I would say you need to understand what health is. There is an interesting correlation, theoretically, with the Blue Zones, it’s been discussed many times.
The blue zones, if you look at these people, some of them are very old and they’ve lived a long time, but if you look at the real reasons they’re living, they have good social structure, they’re happy, and they’re not creating lots of chemicals in their diet, but if you look at these people, many of them are toothless. That’s a very important statement. We should not lose our teeth. Animals don’t lose their teeth unless they’re knocked out. You don’t lose your teeth unless you have active periodontal disease, unless you have an accident. You only have active periodontal disease to that point because you’ve had severe gut dysbiosis.
Certain elements in their diet have damaged their gut and created disinfection, and these 80, 90-year-olds and older are partially edentulous, meaning they have maybe quite a number of teeth lost, or maybe they’re totally edentulous, they have no teeth. That is not a sign of health. I can show you pictures of 80 and 85-year-olds with every tooth in their mouth and no gum disease that have eaten a healthy diet. I can show you people that are 100 years old that are chunky fat. They have 100 years behind them, but they have poor dental health. They have gut dysbiosis. The question is, what does it take to live a long time? If that’s your goal, you can have longevity and still be sick.
I can stay sick with multiple myeloma and do chemotherapy over and over and over again and get quite debilitated, but I’m still alive, so I’m a success. I don’t think I’m a success. Yes, beans are associated with some people that have health, but you have to define health because 88% at least of the US population are metabolically unhealthy. There are those people that are considered healthy, which comes to the, another point of view, and that is the ranges of medical tests that are healthy and unhealthy. Those medical tests have been studied on people that are relatively unhealthy, even though they think they’re healthy when these tests are standardized. It’s a big dilemma here.
Ari: We could probably spend in several hours on this discussion alone. I don’t want to get too sidetracked here, but there are many interventional studies. There are thousands of epidemiological observational studies from around the world showing higher consumption of, for example, beans or legumes, vegetables, are linked with positive health outcomes more than any other food as far as being linked with–
Dr. Al: I can show you the exact opposite with animal [unintelligible 01:13:18]. All you have to do is look at those studies.
Ari: Well, first of all, I’m not arguing that animal foods are harmful, but I am arguing that plant foods are not harmful as a generalization.
Dr. Al: No, I’m not saying plant foods are unhealthy. I’m saying the plants that have high oxalates and lectins and phytates are more unhealthy. Don’t forget, observational studies require individuals years later to write on a inventory of what they ate and what they didn’t eat. How many are smokers? How many are alcohol drinkers? How many have other lifestyle habits that are good or bad?
Ari: Well, there are studies where researchers just survey different culture, different populations that eat more or less of certain foods and don’t require that. Also, I would say there are many interventional studies where they assess the impact of, for example, adding more nuts into one’s diet, which are rich in phytic acid. Phytic acid is as you said, an anti-nutrient that will cause maybe actually some problems in the mouth, but also has been shown, for example, to have anti-cancer effects.
Also, I think relevant to this is almost every gut– This is an interesting dimension to this discussion. Almost every gut microbiome expert that I’ve ever spoken to would emphasize the importance of consuming a huge diversity of plant foods as being the central thing to support optimal gut microbiome health.
Dr. Al: Yes, that’s interesting. I went to a seminar. I won’t tell you the seminar because you might pick the name of the person that spoke, but he’s very well known, and he was talking about the extreme health of a plant-based diet. He was wearing a Hawaiian shirt because he had such a big belly that he couldn’t put a shirt hurt under his pants, and he’s considered healthy. Yes, I get it. I understand. It’s all a matter of degree. Let’s just put it this way. If you’re healthy and you feel healthy, do anything you want, go to fast food restaurants, breakfast, lunch, and dinner, and you stay healthy, genetically, you’re unique and you’re great, and go on your merry life.
If you have a disease, if you have a lack of energy, if you have problems with cognition, if you are unlucky enough to get a diagnosis of cancer, don’t aggravate it with known toxic material. Phytates are soluble in water, so you can soak nuts to get the phytates out, but you can’t get the lectins and oxalates out. You can’t get the high levels of linoleic acid, which is an unhealthy omega-six fatty acid, in higher concentrations or ratios that are significant, the newest research is showing these linoleic acids could be worse than refined sugar and other carbohydrates for our chronic disease population, and it’s in everything we eat.
What I’m saying is, if you are sick, potentially sick, even in an incurable state, don’t add to the problem. Let’s try to improve your immune system. If you’re healthy, like you are, at least you appear to be healthy, and you want to eat all these foods and it doesn’t bother you, go for it. I am saying that there are individuals that are so far gone that another toxic element throws them over the edge. Why play that game of risk unless you like to be a risk-taker? If you feel like you need to eat these foods, then eat them.
Ari: Do you see this, like it’s your belief that this is the optimal human diet, the traditional human diet? Is it more-
Dr. Al: There was a study that was written by–
Ari: Hold on one second -or is it that you see it more as a therapeutic intervention for people who are ill?
Dr. Al: I think it’s the human species’ diet. If you read an article by paleontologist and anthropologist Nikki Bendor, he published this paper, I think, in early 2020 or 2021 with many, many other elements to the paper showed that the human species has evolved to be the dominant animal on the planet because of an animal-based diet.
Ari: There’s all kinds of arguments around this, people citing remains of people from however many thousands of years ago that had remains of so and so food in their mouth, indicating that, we DNA tested these food particles and found evidence of so and so, they consumed pine nuts or they consumed grains or whatever. The best research, in my opinion, comes from Stefan Lindenberg, who was a researcher who traveled all over the world and wrote about the diets of traditional living peoples. I’ll briefly share one little screenshot of a presentation that you can find on YouTube of- Hold on one second. -of the Hadza diet. In some circles, it’s portrayed as being a meat-based diet. I’ve seen some people try to claim that it’s an entirely meat diet or almost entirely meat diet.
This is a presentation called Healthy as a Hunter-Gatherer: Diet, Activity, and Energy in Humans from professor Herman Pontzer. It’s on YouTube. It’s an hour and ten-minute presentation. I screenshotted this little picture of what the Hadza people are eating, where it shows, here, they’re eating lots of honey, certainly on some days, to your point, they’re eating quite a bit of meat, especially on some days it comprises the majority of what they’re eating, on other days it’s a very small portion of what they’re eating.
They’re consuming quite a bit of plant foods largely in the form of baobab fruits, and I think nuts. Also, I think they eat the fruit and the nut of the baobab, and berries, and starchy tubers in the ground. I think on average it was something like 62% plant foods or something to that effect. Anyway, this is just an example of one tribe. It happens to be a tribe that I’ve seen some people claim is eating predominantly animal foods. There are many tribes all over the world that have been studied in the South Pacific, and Papua New Guinea in Africa, and South America. With only the exception of I think the Inuit in Arctic circles where plants don’t really exist, it seems to be an anomaly that a tribe is not eating much in the way of plant foods. Maybe the Maasai they eat a lot of meat, and milk, and blood. I don’t know. I’ve spent a lot of time-
Dr. Al: You’re absolutely right. We’re omnivores. We’re not carnivores. We are not 100% animal-based. Like I said, our species has evolved on an animal-based diet, not a plant-based diet. We eat plants, but the plants are not damaged with toxic elements like glyphosate, they’re not damaged with other agricultural synthetic chemicals. We’re talking about all these toxic elements. The question is not just what you’re eating, but the toxicity you’re not allowing to get into your body. Some of these vegetables have high toxicity because of the anti-nutrients. I eat some vegetables, I eat a lot of fruit. I eat a lot of honey. By the way, the Hadza eat honey and some of them get a lot of tooth decay. The ones that got a lot of tooth decay, interestingly, from the paper I read, they ate the honey with the beehive itself, which is very sticky when they were hunting, so the stickiness got between their teeth.
They don’t floss, so the stickiness and the sugar over time changed the microbiome. That’s another irritant. When you talked about the pine nuts, the pine nuts in that society created serious tooth decay in a paleolithic society that never supposedly had tooth decay. The pine nuts were actually cooked and boiled and broke down to processed carbohydrates that stuck between their teeth and created tooth decay. We’re now talking about a unique situation and not every seed is unhealthy. Macadamia nuts are probably the healthier nut of the nuts and seeds. The question now is not just the lectins and the oxalates, it’s the linoleic acid. You have to be aware of that because it is damaging to the mitochondria, makes fat cells swell and it puts a lot of weight on people.
There was a human study that showed that individuals that were on the same calorie diets, but the calorie diet, one group was on a calorie diet that had basically animal fat, the other diet basically had polyunsaturated liquid oils. The liquid oils, same calories, gained weight, and had more oxidative stress than the other that had the same calories, but they ate animal fat. Linoleic acid has the potential to damage cells just like nanoparticles can damage cells. All we have to do is be cognizant of the risk we want to take. If I know I don’t need linoleic acid, why would I eat the foods that are high in linoleic acid? What makes sense to me does not make necessarily sense to you or others, but I don’t want to put risk into my diet.
Ari: In conventional heart circles, like you talked to a conventional cardiologist and they would tell you to avoid all the saturated fat you’re eating in the red meat-
Dr. Al: I understand that-
Ari: -and they would tell you that all the canola oil and corn oil and soybean oil-
Dr. Al: I understand that-
Ari: -all that stuff’s safe.
Dr. Al: -but they don’t know the literature like you just said. The literature is there and it’s not in the clinical environment. [chuckles] I can tell you my cardiologist is- Leaves a little bit to be desired [laughs], because he understands only what he’s been taught in school 35 years ago. He doesn’t understand saturated fat and its health properties.
Ari: Yes. Dr. Denenberg, I have to go in three minutes-
Dr. Al: I understand.
Ari: -to another call, but let’s wrap up with maybe leaving people with three final thoughts, that can either be a combination of new thoughts or a collection of maybe the three most important things you want to emphasize.
Dr. Al: I would say this, if anybody is sick, if anybody finds themself in a life-threatening situation, there are definitely things you can do, to change your diet and lifestyle to make you healthier. Number one, have a healthy mouth because that could be a major source of infection that you, and other medical doctors do not understand. Take the time to understand what you’re eating, and if what your diet consists of, also consists of toxic elements, no matter how you want to define them, in my mind, eliminate them and do whatever you can do to control the healthy diversity of the gut microbiome, which also includes healthy exercise patterns, healthy restorative sleep, and certainly control of emotional stress. We didn’t touch on emotional stress, but emotional stress may be the biggest element that is toxic to the gut.
Dr. Al: Continuous chronic emotional stress.
Ari: Thank you so much Dr. Denenberg, this was an absolute pleasure, Thank you for allowing me to also engage in a little bit of challenging you [crosstalk] on certain points. I personally like that and I enjoy people who can engage with me on that level. I appreciated the discussion.
Dr. Al: I love it. Thanks for the opportunity.
Ari: Yes. Absolutely. Where can people find you if they want to follow your work, and learn more from you?
Dr. Al: My website is easy. It’s drdenenberg.com. I don’t sell anything, no products whatsoever. The only thing I have are plenty of blogs you can look up and download if you’re interested, over 500 blogs. I do have consultation services, one-on-one or even a coaching program, but my website is available, you can contact me by email and I answer all my emails within 24 hours.
Ari: Beautiful. Thank you so much, my friend, this was an absolute pleasure and look forward to our next conversation.
(00:45) Guest introduction
(01:51) How Dr. Al cured his cancer.
(12:21) The link between gut health and oral health.
(16:16) The most common myths and misconceptions on dental and gum health.
(23:59) The link between metabolic health and gum disease
(25:04) The impact of antibacterial detergents on the microbiome
(31:43) The potential downsides of essential oil and colloidal silver in oral health
(43:03) Flossing – the right and the wrong way to do this
(48:38) Is fluoride necessary?
(54:43) Why the dose makes the poison may not apply
(1:03:36) Can we enhance the oral microbiome?
(1:09:47) Are plant-foods beneficial for health?