Naturally healthy teeth and gums have been on my radar of late. One of the “issues” I wanted to help fix when I decided to go paleo several months back was my own dental health. I think I have been relatively lucky for most of my life in this area. I don’t think I even got a cavity until I was pregnant with my third child and if you recall I had cancer while pregnant with him so my body was in serious crisis mode at the time. When I went vegetarian a few years back though my gums and teeth started to decline and at the time I didn’t think it was related. After I started reading up on grains though I started to think that may be the culprit. Even though I tried to avoid becoming a “grainarian” the simple fact is that I ate more grains and junk carbs as a vegetarian than I ever did as am omnivore. This is why I think I started to have issues with bleeding gums, plaque buildup on my teeth, and dental caries (cavities).
The book Cure Tooth Decay (which is completely awesome) discusses how it isn’t specific foods so much that cause decay but instead it is the fact that these foods replace the foods you should be eating for strong healthy teeth. Things like grains, sugar, and other processed foods lack the nutrients and minerals we need and tooth decay occurs because we are malnourished. Healthy teeth will not decay or break down and healthy teeth are created and maintained with a healthy diet.
This book highlights a lot of the work done by Weston A. Price with photos of his findings. If you are not familiar with Weston A. Price he traveled the world looking at primitive cultures and looking at how healthy they were and how healthy their teeth were compared to their counterparts who adopted more modern and westernized diets. The results are shocking. The Aborigines of Australia are one such group studied. Their primitive hunter-gatherer diet of roots, stems, leaves, berries, seeds, bugs, eggs, birds, aquatic animals, and native peas eaten with animal flesh such as kangaroo resulted in zero instances of dental cavities. When the same people started to eat modern, westernized diets… 70% of them had serous dental decay problems.
There are several other cultures featured in the book but they all have some things in common that show us what we need to eat for good dental health. All the groups with little to no dental decay had diets rich in fat soluble vitamins (A,D,E,K) and minerals like calcium and phosphorus. 30-70% of their calories were derived from fat and they ate things like things like grassfed diary, organs and head meat from fish and shellfish, and/or organs of land animals. Grains are generally not recommended because they lack many of these nutrients and they also have anti-nutrients inside them that prevent us from assimilating what nutrients they DO have. Also the modern versions of foods such as eggs are no longer going to cut it. The eggs you can buy at most stores for instance, are sourced from chickens that are fed grains and thus they are the byproduct of malnourished chickens. To get the best eggs we have to buy those sourced from chickens who are allowed to roam on pastures and eat grass and bugs. This is why we will also want grassfed/pastured meat and organs or wild seafood instead of farmed.
The book highlights each nutrient we need and shares the best sources for all of them. I copied the lists on my scanner so I can reference them often. I highly doubt I will ever buy or consume pig’s blood but I will make a special trip to get duck eggs which have about seven times the Vitamin D of chicken eggs. I can also see quickly that turkey liver has lots more Vitamin A than chicken liver. High up on just about all these lists is Blue Ice fermented cod liver oil so that is a must have for me.
The book Reversing Gum Disease is another gem that shows how we should be able to keep all our teeth for our entire lives. Gum disease though often stems from vitamin deficiency that causes bone loss in the sockets around the teeth and also unhealthy gums. When our gums get unhealthy they loosen and develop pockets that allow food to go down under the gum line and cause further bone loss. It recommends supplementing with vitamins and getting plenty of magnesium and zinc. The magnesium part is important because without magnesium we cannot utilize the calcium we need for stronger teeth. It also recommends eating more bone broth and using herbal rinses and toothpastes instead of the harsh chemical ones from stores.
You can also buy supplements specific to dental health like The Dental Essentials. They claim that taken daily, “The Dental Essentials” can help reduce the incidence of cavities by up to 95% in as little as 3 months and this is done with a blend of vitamins and minerals. They also claim that can you arrest decay and remineralize damaged areas without the need for drilling and filling, which I too believe is totally possible. The company sent me some of the pills and the drops to try so from the packaging I can see that they are essentially calcium, phosphorus, Vitamin D3, Vitamin K2, Magnesium, and Zinc. The drops are flavorless and odorless so they are perfect for kids because you can add them to their drinking water, milk, or smoothies.
I really like the idea of their products but I have to assume that the vitamins are synthetic and I would much prefer those sourced from real food. That is my only criticism though. I am taking them along with some other supplements while I try to find some good recipes for incorporating more organ meats.
After 5 months of ancestral eating and nutrients supplementation I have seen some amazing progress in my own dental health. Before I made the switch I was diagnosed with Periodontitis and had pockets of 3, 4, and 5mm. That is pretty severe for those not familiar and I had to have a deep cleaning. This week I went back and the pockets were all 1s and 2s with a couple 3s on my back teeth. My formerly bleeding gums are now pink and healthy looking. The dental caries that my dentist wanted to fill previously are now just being watched. My dentist and I are pleased as punch. My husband has also seen progress. Before going paleo he had a toothache every other month and was told he needed some root canals. He only held off because he hates to spend that kind of money. After going paleo though and eating more pastured meats and eggs and also taking the supplements I give him, he has not had one single toothache. I can only hope that this means they are healing.
Have you had any experience with curing dental decay and gum disease naturally? I would love to hear!
Related Reading: Oil Pulling for Natural Dental Health & Toxic Toothpaste for Children
As I mentioned in my Valentine’s post I am declaring Buddha Chocolate a new fave around here. I have always adored raw chocolate but since going Paleo late last year I am craving chocolate more than ever. Not the milk chocolate you find at most grocery stores either. I only want super dark chocolate, which is harder to find unless I drive to a health foods store. Not sure why I am experiencing these cravings but I feel comfortable just going with it. Buddha Chocolate sent me some of their offerings to review and I shared them with the husband this week. We both curled up on the couch for a good movie while the kiddies were at school and we noshed on chocolate. Does it get better than that? Nay.
Okay so what makes this chocolate better than what you can get at the grocery checkout? Well, it is raw & organic artisan chocolate made with pure Ecuadorian cacao beans. They sweeten it with raw, humane honey and the total ingredient list is very short with REAL food ingredients. Since the chocolate is not heated over 108 degrees all the enzymes and nutrients are in tact, which makes it a healthy, living food. They are dairy free, soy free, gluten free, and have no added sugar.
I was also blown away by the taste. The two almond butter cups they sent were my fave. A healthy version of the infamous peanut butter cup! The almond butter was creamy and delicious and the chocolate was rich and amazing. One of them (the red) has strawberries and full Goji berries in it. It was my #1 pick. All three chocolates have mesquite in them which gives them a lovely smoky flavor and they all have Pink Himalayan Crystal salt in them too. The salt factor gave them a real wow factor. The chocolate bar was generously sprinkled in the stuff. Insanely delicious!
The packaging is gorgeous and each piece has a Buddha quote on it for a bit of fun. I still have the little quotes on my desk. One was about quality of life and the other was about love. Both timely for Valentine’s Day I think. The owners of Buddha Chocolate are two adorable yoga teachers in New York City so this is a small business worth supporting too. As with most raw chocolate the price is up there but these are luxurious chocolates that are very rich and worth the price as long as they are an occasional luxury. If you love raw chocolate as I do, Buddha Chocolate is a must try. Enjoy!
TGIF! Have an awesome weekend everyone!
Occasionally I do a link round up to highlight all the cool stuff I have come across lately. It is also nice to do a more “fluffy” post when I am short on time and that I am right now. I leave this weekend for Detroit to attend Ford’s Innovation & Design Fantasy Camp and NAIAS, (#FordNAIAS). I was invited by Ford and they are putting me up while I am there. They also invited several of my green bloggy friends and we will hopefully get to pal around while there so I am very excited. I will get to see the entire design process from start to finish and see what they have planned as far as green technology goes.
Okay, so cool links…
Liked this short and sweet post from Ruth’s Real Food, Does Your Bathroom Stink? Don’t Buy Air Freshener. Change Your Diet. I have said to people before that if they are asking my advice about what natural deodorant to use that maybe they need to figure out what in their diet is making them stink in the first place. Sometimes I think that makes me come across a bit holier than thou I think… you know, like my you know what don’t stink. BUT honestly I find that I only smell bad if my diet has also been bad. The stinky bathroom issue is the same.
LOVE this link that shoes you how to make Upcycled Sweater Boots. Amazing!
Recently had a couple people ask me about what type of strainer to use for making Kefir since metal mesh strainers are generally considered a no-no. They are harder to find but you can get nylon mesh strainers. Here is one on Amazon.
A great article from Richard Louv: NATURE’S OWN STIMULUS PACKAGE: 7 Ways to Improve Our Lives in Tough Economic Times. When money is tight it is easy to feel like life sucks and we don’t have money to do anything fun. This is a very limited way to see things. “A nature stimulus package — may be just what the doctor and the economist ordered.”
I have been enjoying Simple Mom’s ebook One Bite at a Time – 52 Projects for Making Life Simpler. Perfect for the New Year! You can get it only for only $4.00 using code HAPPYNEWYEAR (till Jan. 10). It covers 52 common projects that many take on during the year, or attempt to, and helps you work through them in steps. It’s really a marvelous value for the price.
Others books I am reading include: Lights Out: Sleep, Sugar, and Survival and The Magnesium Miracle.
I made the primal meatloaf from this recipe and OH MY GOODNESS it was GOOD! There are apples in the meatloaf instead of crackers or bread. My kids devoured it and asked me to make it once a week at least. I am not big on using ground beef since my gall bladderless body can’t handle grease (ala no burgers for me) but this was not a problem with this dish. All the grease pooled around the meatloaf so I just pulled it out and let it drain a bit on a towel before serving. No tummy issues. On a side note I am wondering if I should be taking bile salts and digestive enzymes since I am eating a lot more fats and I have no gall bladder. This is something I need to research.
Soon we will be confronted with Thin Mints again. I appreciated this article Girl Scout Cookies or Chemicals? It has an ingredient list inside the post and boy oh boy are those babies bad for us. I think it is time we stop buying this processed crap and act like we are doing a GOOD thing for kids. Or maybe I am just bitter because I tried to get my daughter into Girl Scouts this year and was told they are full unless I want to become a leader and start my own troop.
Have a GREAT weekend all!
Many bloggers are listing their most popular posts of the previous year and I probably would not have followed suit but a reader asked me to, so here I go. In terms of traffic here are the most popular posts of the past year:
10 New Ways to Cook Quinoa - Over 20,000 people have visited this post and I didn’t write it until late summer. Wow! I hope it has provided Quinoa cooking ideas for lots of people.
Are You Eating the 30 Healthiest Foods? – I listed the healthiest foods selected by a popular magazine to see how many of them I was eating or not and why.
Six Benefits of Eating Locally Grown Foods – Why we should high tail it out of the chain grocery store and into the farmer’s market.
The Dangers of Soy – My horrendous experience with soy. I let my guard down and I started consuming a protein bar that had soy in it. It did devastating things to my health and it is the gift that just keeps on giving unfortunately.
Natural Sunburn Remedies – Tips and ideas for recovering from a sunburn.
Bringing Food Preservation Back To Our Kitchens – The lost art of food preservation.
Tips on Avoiding Food Waste – Most people in affluent countries waste food left and right but we can tame that beast with some creativity and planning.
Eco Friendly & Sustainable Dollhouses – Turning a classic toy and into a green toy.
Greener Tips for Healthy Skin – Reading this post again was a great reminder to break out the magnesium oil again. I need it!
Okabashi Recyclable Shoes and Flip-Flops – A greener shoe option that I reviewed.
Okay, so that is what drew the most readers in. My personal faves would include some of the above but I would also add:
Happy With What You Have – Feng Shui Tips for the Home – I am a big Feng Shui enthusiast.
Creating a Real Foods Kitchen – This was a very recent post but already gaining in popularity.
The Power of Reclaiming Domesticity
Living the Minimalist Lifestyle
Transitioning Kids to REAL Food
Here is to 2012!!
I got a great email question from a reader this week and decided to answer it on the blog. I think more and more people are wanting to transition from the Standard American Diet and easily available processed food to real, healthy, homemade goodness. The issue of course is that we find ourselves unprepared to cook real food because we are so used to heat and serve style meals. When we want to cook and bake from scratch we need the right tools so that we can stick with his new lifestyle and not decide that it is ultimately too much work. Our health will improve and so will our impact on the planet so it is important that we manage to set up our kitchen to make it easier to eat real food!
Here is what Danielle had to say:
Hello from Wisconsin. I have one daughter and trying for another. I have just recently become more aware of the choices I make for the my family and the impact it has on all of us. I started out by bringing my own bags to the grocery store, making my daughter her own baby food, getting rid of paper towels altogether, and a few other little changes. My goal for the new year is going to be making all our own food from scratch. Whether it’s snacks, dinner, smoothies, ect. With that being said, do you have any suggestions as to cookware and/or kitchen tools to help with doing so?
I have been trying to go back to a lot of your older posts and learning but as you probably know with having a little one I don’t get much time to do so. What are some of the best tips you could give me as to making my family and our house more green? As most of the people these days, we are on a budget. So I am hoping to make changes in small increments.
The following are some of the things I think a real food kitchen needs. As with anything you can start small and add things as you can. Also depending on what you are cooking some of these things may not apply to you but hopefully these ideas give you a place to start. Make sure to comment and add YOUR must have kitchen tool at the bottom of this page.
What You Need for a Real Foods Kitchen
Vita-Mix – My number #1 must have for the kitchen would have to be the Vita-Mix. I use mine literally all the time and have even joked that if the house were burning down I would run back inside to grab my camera and this amazing blender. We use it for making homemade nut butters, almond milk, butter, crackers, baby food (back in the day), popsicles, ice cream, sorbet, smoothies, mixed drinks, salsa, soup, raw cookies and desserts, and so much more. It is one of those gadgets that is always out on the counter because someone in the house will use it… at least 2 or 3 times each day. It is an expensive item but worth every penny and then some. If you have one you may not even need an immersion blender or a food processor plus you can buy a separate dry container for grinding your own flour.
I also have a Blendtec but I like the Vita-mix better.
A Dutch Oven – You can buy many different types of Dutch Ovens from the posh and stylish Le Creuset to the uber affordable Lodge Logic. The latter option works swimmingly so unless looking at that French version will make you super happy you can just go with the cheaper option. I use my cast iron Lodge Logic oven for making soups and stews when I don’t have time for a crock-pot. And as you can see below I also use it to make whole wheat sourdough bread on occasion.
Pressure Cooker – Okay, so you planned things REALLY badly and you need to cook up something really fast but you want that slow cooked for hours taste. You need a pressure cooker. If you’re are a meat eater you can also turn out really tender and juicy dishes using traditionally tough cuts of meat and you can do it 20 minutes instead of 2 hours. Some units can be used as a canner as well. I have no personal experience with these but I hear I am getting one for Christmas!
Crock-pot – These are perfect for meals with long cooking times… think chicken noodle soup, meatloaf, or chili. You can use a dutch oven or pressure cooker to get the job done faster but you may not want to heat your oven (summer) or you may need to cook while away from home. Since crock-pots plug into the wall and don’t require a stove they are perfect for slow cooking meals while you are working. You can also put them on a timer and have them start cooking while you are sleeping… ala overnight oatmeal.
I use my crock-pot more often than my dutch oven simply because I like to do all the food prep while my kids are at school. It can get hectic in the evening to have to chop all the veggies and such. For meals that only need 30 minutes or so, like my Potato Leek Soup, I use the cast iron dutch oven. Can’t wait to see how the pressure cooker works itself into the equation.
Bean Pot – These awesome pots can be used to soak and also cook your beans. I have an antique one that I got as a gift but you can also buy them new.
Dehydrator – I have an Excalibur food dehydrator and it is almost essential if you enjoy raw foods. In mine I have made cookies, crackers, dried fruit, fruit rolls, almond flour from almond pulp, and many other raw food dishes. They are also great for campers and hikers because you can make home cooked meals and then dehydrate instead of buying those freeze dried packets at sporting goods stores. Being able to dry fruit is a great way to preserve foods for winter time consumption.
Rice Cooker – If you eat a lot of rice or quinoa (raising hand) then having one of these saves loads of time and you don’t have to worry about burning. Most of these have non-stick coatings though so I suggest clay or stainless steel. They are pricier than your $30 rice cookers at Walmart but you don’t have to worry about cooking your food in nasty chemicals.
Pizza Stone – In my mind there is no reason to order pizza out. It is super easy to make your own pizza and it is MUCH healthier. My kids eat pizza loaded with fresh basil and spinach and you won’t find that at Pizza Hut. If you do make pizza at home then having a good pizza stone is nice. You can use them in the oven in winter and on the grill in summer. Easy!! You can also use these for things like biscuits and cookies.
Waffle Maker and/or Griddle - If you like waffles ( I recommend sourdough waffles) then you will love a cast iron waffle maker. Don’t buy the conventional ones with a non-stick finish. Same goes for griddles. A cast iron griddle is perfect for cooking eggs, pancakes, and even homemade english muffins.
Cutting Boards – Nourished kitchens see lots of veggie action. As a result of this I seem to have a bit of a bamboo cutting board addiction. I have 2 regular ones, a cutting block style board, and one that has a nifty colander built in for cutting and rinsing over the sink. I also have a plastic one from my non-green days and I keep it around for cutting meat. I won’t let meat touch my wooden boards. I also have a glass cutting board.
Colander – Typical kitchens usually have one but just in case I love the metal ones that are designed to fit over the sink. Love, love, love them! Plus you can use them as baskets when not in use to hold potatoes, fruit, eggs, etc.
Mixers – I have wanted a good mixer with a dough hook for years. I cannot seem to rationalize the cost of a KitchenAid though when we don’t do that much baking or bread making. Maybe someday if we find an awesome deal I will finally get one.
Good Pots and Pans – I wrote an extensive post on healthy and green cookware already so you can refer to that for the ins and outs of cast iron, stainless, aluminum, copper, etc.
Yogurt Maker – You can make yogurt in a crock-pot if you make up large batches and you can even use a jar and a heating pad. I happen to prefer the ease of a yogurt maker and I use the same one today that my mom used when I was a kid. If you decide to get one look for ones that have glass containers, not plastic.
Ramekins – Love these for reasonable portions of things like pudding and ice cream but also for cooking. I love to toss a egg in one and then top with a slice of fresh tomato, a sprinkling of herbs, some bread crumbs, and some cheese. Meat eaters like some crumpled bacon. Cook in the oven until the eggs set and voila, an easy an delicious breakfast for the whole house. Love these colored Rachael Ray ramekins!
Casserole Dishes – Speaking of Rachael Ray I am also loving her Stoneware bake sets that can be used for casseroles. Her cooking gear started out very cheesy (and plastics heavy) but it has taken a turn for the better in recent months. I can see making a veggie casserole or sweet potato casserole in these.
Juicer – I used to have a juicer but decided that I ultimately enjoy drinking the pulp and fiber of a fruit rather than just the juice. But if you are into raw foods or you need the extra healing that fresh juicing can provide, then a good juicer is essential.
Water Purification – We use Brita pitchers for filtering our water and an Alkamate for alkaline water.
Ball Jars – I use Ball jars for tons of things around the kitchen. We use small ones as drink cups for the kids and quart sized ones for protein shakes and green smoothies for adults. I also use them to store flour, grains, quinoa, beans, lentils, nuts, seeds, rice, dehydrated fruit, cereal, oats, etc. You can fill them from the bulk bin at your local grocer or you can buy packaged and then transfer it. It keeps things fresh, bug free, and I label the bottom of the jars so that I know what is in them. I put a sprouting lid on them and use them for sprouting seeds. The lid and jar combo can be used for sprinkling powdered cleaners, like my homemade scented scrubs to. I use them to make fermented foods like sourdough and kefir and store things in the fridge. They have a million uses!
Also, any glass jar will do. I just mostly use Ball jars because we don’t buy much food packaged in jars but I do have a couple Bubbies pickle jars in there to.
Below: Potato flakes, quinoa, brown rice, wild rice, coconut flour, quinoa flour, almond flour, flaxseed cereal, flaxseed meal, and some others I am likely forgetting.
Glass Refrigerator Dishes – As I mentioned above, I use Ball Jars for lots of my storage needs but when I have leftovers that won’t fit in jars I use glass refrigerator dishes. I have lots of vintage pyrex for this purpose as well as some Anchor Hocking glass dishes.
Storage Baskets – For food that stays outside the fridge like potatoes, onions, garlic, apples, bananas, lemons, bread, etc, we use baskets for easy storage and they go on a large metal shelving system that sits in our kitchen.
Chef’s Knives – Just like you need good cutting boards for all those fresh veggies you will be chopping, you need some good knives to.
Miscellaneous Stuff – An apple corer, wooden cooking utensils, wood and metal serving bowls, a hand crank mixer, a nut chopper (go vintage if you can!), spiral slicer, nut milk bags and cheesecloth, a kitchen scale, metal spatulas, a Tagine, and a fermenting crock.
Whew! Did I go a little crazy with this run down? What do you have to have in your kitchen?