Fighting off recurring infections: Part 3 – Oral Health

This is the latest addition to our series on managing recurring infections without the use of antibiotics. Our focus this time is oral health, oral protocols for hygiene and the relationship between your mouth and systemic health.

I’m going to get straight to the point – your gumline provides entry into many important vascular channels including, but not limited to, the pharyngeal, maxiliary, facial, lingual and palantine arteries. Furthermore, the pathogenic activity in your mouth is intrinsically linked to the activity in throughout your gut, therefore the health of one affects the health of the other. Since your digestive tract is the primary playground for microbial activity, activity which is apparently problematic in those with the persisting issues, we need to make observations and apply efforts to every aspect of that tract.

Preparation

This one is simple. You shouldn’t brush immediately after eating food, as your teeth will be more easily damaged if your mouth is very acidic. Rinse with water after you eat and allow some time for saliva to be produced.

Mechanical

The first, and most obvious, aspect to oral health is removing the food in your mouth. We understand that certain types of bacteria, such as streptococcus mutans, feed on glucose utilizing a metabolism which damages tooth enamel. This is in line with the observation that many types of pathogenic activity are glycolytic, therefore this gives us yet another reason to keep glucose intake or, at the very least, residual glucose prevalence, to a minimum.

Let’s address a very simple issue – what comes first? Brushing or flossing? Most seem to floss after brushing, but this is nonsensical. If you make the effort to wash over the surface of your teeth by brushing a foaming paste and rinsing it out of the mouth, such an effort is wasted if you immediately follow that up by breaking out all the bits of food that managed to stay hidden between those teeth. The correct choice is to floss first and THEN brush and rinse all the food out of your mouth completely.

Rinsing

Is it necessary to use a harsh rinse to destroy all the bacteria in the mouth? It depends – If your bacterial activity is under control and you have a healthy oral ecology, then it’s probably not necessary and can even be detrimental. The individuals this series pertains to, however, have higher risk of bacterial issues therefore it’s possible their oral microbiome favours higher numbers of the buggers that have been feeding on sugar and damaging teeth. If you have recurring periodontal/gum issues, then it may be favourable to include the use of an anti-bacterial rinsing component as part of your oral health protocol. In most other cases, however, it is best left out, especially if it is only being maintained in order to control “bad breath”, which will be best rectified by the last component addressed in this article.

On that note, if you have decided to rinse – what should you use? There are many options, including alcohol-based, eucalyptus-based, chlorohexidine-based and oxidizer-based rinses (such as peroxide and chlorine dioxide). The fact of the matter is that they will all kill bacteria, but they have different properties which make some more desirable than others.

Alcohol-based and eucalyptus-based rinses are effective at killing bacteria, but leave the mouth dry, delaying saliva and enzyme production, which is conducive to bacterial regrowth.

Oxidizer-based rinses are also effective at killing bacteria, and have the additional benefit of penetrating a bit deeper below the gumline, which can be beneficial for those aiming to control periodontal issues without the utility of more targeted approaches of administration, but oxidizers can be harsh to the enamel if they aren’t diluted enough. Since oxidizers can be potentially more damaging than other rinses, it may be wise to follow up the rinse with a small sip of some antioxidant tea (preferably something light, which won’t stain teeth). Oxidizers tend to be most active on the more acidic side of the spectrum, therefore they should be followed up by the last component (oil rinsing).

Chlorohexidine-based rinses are equally effective at killing bacteria, but are associated with tooth-staining through interactions with other compounds and oral tissue sensitivity. Chlorohexidine rinses tend to be found on the more alkaline end of the spectrum, therefore they might be more preferable in situations where the last component (oil rinsing) cannot be used.

Oil-rinsing

The last component to oral health is one which seems to be poorly understood, and that is of oil-rinsing. There is a lot of rhetoric on this subject, with much of it being referenced through the label of “oil-pulling”. This is, perhaps, a misnomer, and part of the problem: the idea touted by alternative practitioners is often explained as being used to draw toxins (toxic metals and poisons, such as dioxin), and pathogenic organisms, out from the teeth, gums, saliva and surrounding tissues. I’m sorry to say, but there is no scientific evidence for this, although there seems to be some new scientific studies from India which propose modes of action which were previously not thought of which might explain the potential to draw out some toxic metals (the irrefutable evidence is still missing, however). That doesn’t mean this process is completely useless, however. In fact, it might be an extremely essential component for two reasons: the antimicrobial effect of certain fatty acids, and the catalyzing of a healthy “homeostatic” environment in the mouth.

Antimicrobial effect: certain fatty acids have been proven to have antibacterial, antifungal and antiviral effects – this is further facilitated by the fact that the viscous nature of the oil will cause it to remain in trace amounts for quite some time after rinsing, keeping bacterial regrowth at bay for an extended period.

Homeostatic facilitation: The fatty acids themselves and the pH of the certain oils helps to stimulate enzyme-rich saliva production, which is necessary to induce a healthy microbiological demographic in the mouth as well as the repair of tooth enamel.

Balanced/Clean Mouth => Flossing => Brushing => Anti-bacterial Rinsing (optional)=> Oil-rinsing

Seems like a lot of work, but, if optimal cleanliness and recovery is required, then it is the best protocol that can be recommended, in my opinion.

Fighting off recurring infections: Part 2 – Gut

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Our first criteria is the most obvious: gut flora.

You make decisions everyday which influence this area (dietary and even based on your activities), and you are able to make constant observations from your bowel movements, energy levels, perceived visceral activity, gas, and so on. I’m going to emphasize the following statement: every piece of food you put in your mouth is either moving you towards or away from your goal. I understand that we humans don’t generally like to make dramatic changes to our habits until we suddenly are unable to enjoy a lifestyle or activity that we have become accustomed to – but let’s go ahead and assume that we DON’T need to let things get to that point before we finally have the impetus to make the changes we need. If we make those changes now then we’ll be better able to enjoy ourselves later (and avoid depression and disease – sounds like a good trade).

Sometimes doctors and nutritionists will tell a diseased patient that part of their well-being relates to being able to eat what they desire – but this is an incomplete part of the picture. If you are used to eating sundaes, then perhaps your reward system is based on those sundaes – but making SACRIFICES also produces a feeling of reward and modulates your value system such that your future decision making will be more conducive to your health and function – this doesn’t mean you are going to become depressed without your sundaes and will, in exchange, be healthy. It means what makes you feel good always changes, so we should be steering ourselves towards reward systems which make us stronger. There’s no way around it – so start applying it, become stronger and then we’ll all do a better job of helping each other in this strange proposition (called life).
Now that we have the psychobabble out of the way, let’s talk about factors which influence our microbiome.

 

What factors influence this demographic?

 

Workload:

You bust your ass at work (or endure it), slaughter yourself in the gym, do your best to maintain a fulfilling yet volatile relationship, spend enough time out with friends to not become a social pariah, do your best to digest enzyme-intensive and inflammatory foods and stay up a bit too late each night to watch some of your favourite shows. One might be inclined to believe that some of these enjoyable activities are stress relievers, but when they incessantly derail your efforts to maintain a consistent schedule which allows for the development of congruous oscillations within your circadian rhythm then they are actually functioning in the opposite capacity. Activities you enjoy can impose stress on your body, and a deep period of rest doesn’t just allow for its directly related segments to be enacted (endocrine secretion/anabolism, calibration of sympathetic/parasympathetic nervous functions, interaction of pineal gland with your immune function, etc), but the level of rest you achieve also influences a range of other factors from neurochemical balance to brain permability (okay, these are related to one another, but you know what I mean). Yes, you need to rest, or you become weakened, dysfunctional and more susceptible to infection.

 

Exposure:

We’ve all been made paranoid that each surface we come into contact with is potentially infecting us with some new lethal microorganism. Well, let’s get straight about this. You ARE a gigantic, trendy hot-spot for microorganisms to meet up and engage in all sorts of blasphemous promiscuity. This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be washing your hands, but you should keep in mind that you eat and breathe SHIT all day long (or often enough). Your kitchen sink is comparable to your toilet bowl and the air you breathe isn’t empty space – it’s an ocean of anomalous materials that you (and all those tiny squatters inside) are filtering and mediating. It’s possible that sometimes you can get sick from coming into contact with something new, but statistics on infections are heavily reliant upon what essentially comes down to “word of mouth”. All of those flu numbers don’t come from lab reports – they come from people who had respiratory infections during “flu season”. You figure it out. In any case, chances are that maintaining a stronger system is more important than avoiding the handrail of the bus, so you’re better off trying to improve your health rather than your capacity to carry around antimicrobial gels.

 

Circulation:

This is a really simple one to understand, yet one which is easily overlooked. You see, things need to keep on moving, or we run into problems. Your blood needs to circulate or your tissues are not nourished or cleaned. Your cholesterol needs to move in a manner that is efficient or we get problems in the endothelial wall of arteries which lead to oxidation of different materials (mostly polyunsaturated fatty acids and minerals, mind you) and eventual atherosclerotic plaque. Your stools need to move through your colon or you become backed up and promote development of diverticulae. The food in your mouth needs to keep moving to avoid it being eaten by bacteria which produce acids that damage your dental enamel. We can find lots of examples, but the general sentiment remains the same – keep things moving!

I’m going to go a step deeper here, however, and put out the idea that muscoskeletal dysfunction and poor posture affect much more than athletic ability – they have the potential to inhibit organ function. There are plenty of examples of athletes whose muscular dysfunction at the pelvic floor lead to acute symptoms in the prostate and bladder. Some medical professionals might scoff at this idea as a whole, but there are plenty of sports medicine doctors and physiotherapists who would beg to differ. Organ dysfunction is a higher risk factors in the obese and it’s sometimes thought that this is due to the simple fact that there is a greater volume of tissue to work through – but more specifically, there is a lot of “non-functional” tissue (stored fat) which directly increases relative pressure on organs and promotes muscular dysfunction – you use muscles to inspire, expire and evacuate the bowels. Our bodies are built as structures connected to structures and everything pulls and pushes on everything else – so leave some room to BREATHE, and DIGEST. Most of us have far too much tension in certain muscles, most notably those involved in flexion, be it from neurosomatically programmed firing patterns from childhood abuse, overuse in sports, or simply too much sitting and eating at the computer. My experiences in training both competitive athletes and weekend warriors have shown me that everyone can benefit from corrective stretching and strengthening.

 

Diet:

I’ve already gone through this in another blog post, but I’ll quickly touch on this again. We eat probiotic foods to boost the allies in the internal battle within our digestive tracts. We need prebiotic foods (fiber) not just to help move things along, but to feed those little guys inside. We can obviously overdo it, and sometimes that’s the case (especially with insoluble fiber), but usually we’re overdoing the other stuff (processed foods/skewed fatty acid ratios, ingestion of contaminants, enzyme-intensive foods, massive blood sugar deviations and insulin overload, etc). When in doubt, simplify – choose things that are easy to digest and, if possible, eat less than you need. I’m not going to elaborate this section much more than that, for now, as we’re going to come back to diet in the last two sections of this series on Recurring Infections.

 

Inflammation:

When we think about the proliferation of pathogenic organisms, we tend to imagine that it is based on exposure but, as stated before, exposure isn’t necessarily as important a factor as pop culture may have lead us to believe. The next factor in their proliferation is their feeding – most pathogens seem to enjoy glucose (sort of like cancer – interesting, hmm?), but I don’t need to tell you that avoiding surges of blood sugar is in the best interest of your health. Okay, I’ll tell you anyway, eating lots of sugar is going to help keep feeding these pathogens – so avoid it when it isn’t necessary, or keep it to sources that provide other things you need from time to time (such as fruits and some healthy starches, rather than whole-wheat bagels and doughnut extravaganzas). Another manner by which pathogenic organisms can feed is through inflammation to cells. To keep things simple and brief, inflammation increase permeability, and damaged cells lead to materials and substrates which aren’t going to be properly used. Your internal ecosystem is a dynamic wonderland where everything can be reused and recycled – and if you aren’t doing the best job of this, those pathogens will do it for you. Chronic inflammation is going to help feed them, even when your blood sugar levels are under control.
What affects inflammation? We already discussed the importance of rest to regulate systemic functions, and obviously this will lead to reduced inflammation, so let’s touch on a few other areas. Other things to consider are ingestion of too much insoluble fiber, too much volume of food, foods which promote an imbalance of omega 3 to 6, foods which require a lot of enzymes to break down (lectins, saponins, phytates, etc), and foods which are contaminated (mycotoxins, dioxins, pesticides, etc). Cheap coffee with refined flour cakes, loads of whole wheat with milk, and even too many legumes aren’t going to do you much good if you are trying to control inflammation.

So start looking into the bowl and take a good whiff – if things look erratic and give off smells which you wouldn’t want to draw too much attention to, then perhaps it’s time to “clean house” 🙂

Stay tuned for Part 3..

Fighting off recurring infections: Part 1

Fighting off recurring infections

Fighting off recurring infections

Recently I was approached by an individual suffering from chronic infections. This person is fed up with antibiotics, as they believe that their incessant use has made it difficult for their body to fully recover and they don’t seem to be solving the problem. Confronted with a recent set of symptoms, they have expressed a desire to resolve them with an approach that would yield a more sustainable and progressive “homeostasis” throughout the relevant systems of their body.

Before we get started, let’s answer some initial questions: Will natural remedies provide the same antibacterial action of antibiotics?

To keep the answer short, No – but that is the point. Traumatic stimuli can sometimes provide the appropriate catalyst , but their chronic application is conducive to systems which exhibit static modalities of stress. If a system is suffering from recurring infections, then no doubt it has difficulty achieving a state to prevent them. Weakening such a system as a short term remedy will likely facilitate future infections and increase the requirements of healing in the interim. If the infection is not life threatening and not likely to cause permanent damage, then it would make sense to meet it with a more harmonious approach.

How do we know if the threat is likely to cause permanent damage?

A difficult question indeed. We can analyze symptoms and relate them to specific organs, neural pathways and muscoskeletal components, but there are factors which impede clear analysis. These factors range from fallibility of perception to elements which do not exhibit symptoms to competition of symptoms; that is to say, it can be argued that the nervous and immune system will all but ignore one set of symptoms to focus on another, hopefully because the latter is more significant.

What about professional analysis? There are pros and cons here – obviously there are methods of measuring biomarkers with which to produce analyses, and the right one can be of enormous use. The issue is that there are more than enough biomarkers to measure and choosing which ones to focus on all starts with the reporting of symptoms – it comes back to the patient. Furthermore, there are many examples of ailments whose treatments are both numerous and poorly understood – with conflicting ideas as to why certain biomarkers are relevant. The fact of the matter is that this individual’s preceding efforts to have such analysis done seems to always result in the same treatment: more antibiotics.

So, for now, let’s think of some alternatives.

Am I going to list a magic herb? No, that’s not the point – this isn’t about choosing an alluring and mysterious puzzle piece which will magically make everything better – that’s what the antibiotic is supposed to do. This is about changing perception and using a comprehensive approach to achieving stronger immune function while reducing the likelihood of pathogens to proliferate. To go about this, we must establish a predetermined set of relevant criteria and elaborate on each one. The criteria are as follows:

Gut

Mouth

Respiration (airway)

Respiration (muscoskeletal)

Inflammation

Metabolic

Antipathogenic compounds

 

 

…Stay tuned for part 2 of this series 😉

 

Ketone-promoting fat bomb

Ketone-promoting fat bomb

I see a lot of recipes being thrown around for keto-friendly chocolate peanut butter cups.

This thing is from scratch, has a much better Coconut Oil:Peanut Butter ratio and gives me a wonderful boost mid-day with my espresso.

3.5 to 1 CoconutOil:PB
1.5 tsp High-fat cocoa
Pure Vanilla Extract
Bit of ground flax
Up to half a packet of Stevia
I put some cinnamon in mine

Made me 3 hefty bombs