Losing My Teeth Before 30

I walk into the dentist for my regularly scheduled cleaning. Two years had passed since my last visit, for this I use the best services from the Mentone dentist online. My teeth felt healthy and pain-free. After a routine brushing, flossing and probing, the dentist looks at me with deep concern. “I want you to see a periodontist. You may need surgery.”

Surprised and confused, I leave the office with a clean mouth and a head full of worry.

The periodontist shared my results very matter-of-factly. “You have 40 percent bone loss in your lower teeth.” Okay, and that means? He went on to explain that my teeth were losing bone around the root, where the tooth anchors into my mouth. If it continues, the teeth will detach from the root and fall out.

Fall out. As in lose forever. Never to grow back. Toothless at 28.

How exactly did this happen to me? I was healthy, I flossed daily and always brushed my teeth. What could have gone wrong?

I began to question everything about my health. It became an obsession to understand why my bones were deteriorating. I read dozens of nutrition books, learned more about anatomy and physiology and researched methods for building bone density.

During this time I had also just begun weekly therapy for an eating disorder. I’d battled bulimia for ten years and was finally ready to get help. I shared the teeth discovery with my therapist. She listened, then asked why I thought this happened. At the time I blamed my years eating a vegan diet. It seemed logical to me that the lack of proper nutrients resulted in my teeth dilemma. She left it at that and therapy continued for six more months. 

As the months passed, I learned more about bone loss as well as the health consequences of bulimia. Bone loss can be caused by a variety of factors, ranging from difficulty absorbing nutrients in autoimmune diseases to taking certain medications for cancer treatment to damages from eating disorders. Generally something is interfering with calcium and vitamin D absorption.

I was quick to discredit the link to bulimia. It had already caused so much suffering that I could not fathom another consequence. I continued to solely blame my past dietary choices for the bone loss.

Near the end of my therapy intensive, we circled back to my teeth. The notion that it could be tied to bulimia was nagging me. I shared my doubts about the link to bulimia and my therapist challenged, “I think the bulimia is the culprit, it is commonly seen with this disease.”

Finally it sank in. Bulimia caused my tooth deterioration. I accepted it. The concentration on my lower teeth was a clear indication. Years of purging allowed harsh stomach acid to flood my mouth and be in regular contact with that area, slowly corroding my teeth. 

Bulimia Physical Effects:
►Irritated digestive system
Bloating, abdominal pain
Lack of vitamin and mineral absorption leading to malnourishment
Teeth deterioration
Sore throat, indigestion, heartburn and reflux
Inflammation & rupture of the oesophagus
Electrolyte imbalance resulting in cardiac arrhythmia, muscle fatigue and cramps
Stomach & intestinal ulcers
Irregular or slow heart beat
Heart failure

The list only includes physical side effects and does not go into the just as damaging emotional health impacts.

28 and toothless. That’s the story I have to tell. It’s been two years since I received the bad news and I now have a reverse braces contraption in my mouth holding down my bottom teeth. The teeth I’ll eventually lose. Honestly, a tooth could fall out any day.

Yes I’ve accepted it and own my mistakes and continue to do the work to ensure further damage is not done. But I’ll never get my teeth back.

 

Resources:
Bulimia: Caring for your Teeth, http://eating-disorders.org.uk/information/caring-for-your-teeth/

Physical Effects: Bulimia, https://www.eatingdisorders.org.au/eating-disorders/bulimia-nervosa/physical-effects

Can Dieting Shorten Your Life?

How many people do you know who are trying to lose weight? I bet you can name at least five in your close circle. The numbers are staggering. Our culture is obsessed with weight loss. Yet out of those people trying to lose weight, there is a 95 percent chance they will gain it back within a year. Many live their entire lives this way, a constant weight cycle. What are the real consequences to this yo-yo dieting?

WHY DIETING FAILS
Whether it’s societal pressure, personal body shaming issues or a health concern prescribed by a doctor, the weight loss game is always a battle. People are impatient and most often go the drastic calorie cutting route. The body reacts by going into starvation mode, slowing metabolism, holding onto weight and then finally giving into the body’s signals and binging on a huge meal. Millions of years of evolution has programed us to eat as much as we can since we don’t know when the next meal is coming. You can only fight biology for so long. When our bodies are denied calories, biology pushes back.

Deprivation diets don’t work.
Our body fights it. Our brains fight it. Our environment fights it.

Once the mini-starvation diet is over, the body will actually want more food causing us to gain back all the weight plus a little more. And then the cycle begins again. 

HEALTH CONSEQUENCES
Dieting causes a stress response, releasing the hormone cortisol into the bloodstream. Little moments of worry about your body image or the calories you’re eating add up throughout the day. Each time you step on the scale and you disagree with the results, cortisol is reaching a new level. As it rises so does a long list of health consequences.

High cortisol levels raise susceptibility to infections, decrease bone density, increase blood pressure and damage blood vessels. The body also becomes more insulin resistant and any increased fat gets stored in the abdomen, which is known as cortisol belly.

The most worrisome consequence from dieting is it’s impact on telomeres. Telomeres are protective caps at the end of chromosomes that affect a person’s lifespan. Every time a cell divides, telomeres get shorter and lifespan shortens as well. The more cortisol people release in response to stress, the shorter their telomeres. Chronic dieters are shown to have shorter telomeres than non-dieters.

Weight cycling or yo-yo dieting has been shown to increase risk of illness and death.

This shortened life span is even regardless of other lifestyle choices. A person can be healthy in all other aspects of their life. Yet if they’ve spent years shedding and gaining fifteen to twenty pounds, their life expectancy can be negatively impacted. Keep in mind this is based on early research studies but it’s still alarming.

It is possible that the stress from dieting may accelerate the aging process.

MAINTAINING A CONSISTENT WEIGHT
Weight maintenance takes a real understanding and connection with your body.
Ask these questions:

►When do you feel your best?
►What does it take for my body to function optimally? 
►How do I manage stress and reach mental clarity?

Through a deeper understanding of your body’s inner workings, you’ll be able to find your body’s comfortable, healthy weight.

It is also important to mention that your “ideal” weight may not be aligned with your healthy weight. A BMI score is not a measure of health. If you’ve been 120 pounds your entire life but battle to stay there then you may be physically content gaining five to ten pounds. A large percentage of people fall under the overweight category and are perfectly healthy. What if the BMI measure of “overweight” is that person’s healthy weight? Many studies are finding this to be true.

WEIGHT MAINTENANCE TIPS
►Keep a food journal – Tracking your food intake and portion sizes is a mindful practice that will show you how much food your body needs.
►Eat three meals per day and minimize snacking
►Be mindful of portion sizes
►Listen to your brain’s fed signals. It takes 20 minutes after a meal to feel that “full feeling.” If you’re still hungry, wait 20 minutes then decide on seconds.
Set weigh-in dates – I say this cautiously and only for those without a current eating disorder. Having a weekly date with the scale can be a good check-in for consistency.
Be patient – It took me two years to figure out the right portion sizes for my comfortable body weight.
Manage stress – Meditation, exercise, deep breathing, mantras, affirmations and gratitude practices can help. Find what works for you and do it weekly.
Eat and enjoy food. Deprivation is not the answer.

Slowly back away from quick-fix solutions. Give up the diet cycle and move forward into a long, healthy life.

RESOURCES
Secrets from the Eating Lab: The Science of Weight Loss, the Myth of Willpower, and Why You Should Never Diet Again by Traci Mann

Better Than Before: Mastering the Habits of Our Everyday Lives by Gretchen Rubin

Juicing vs Smoothies: Which is Better?

To juice or to smoothie? Both are exceedingly popular and both have their pros and cons.

Let’s first become clear on one thing, juices and smoothies are not meals. All the weeklong juice cleanses touting health benefits are a nutritional disaster. Our bodies were designed with teeth for a reason. Biological needs are met when food is chewed. Yes, it’s true there is a lot of nutrition packed into one cup, yet the human body cannot run on a liquid diet.

The act of chewing food actually begins the process of digestion. It starts in the mouth. When food it chewed it is mixed with amylase enzymes found in the saliva, which helps break down the food. This prepares it for the entire digestive system.

The idea around juicing and smoothies is this, “let’s cram as many vegetables, fruits, powders, nut-butters and fancy superfoods into one cup and call it a meal.” While it may sound like a recipe for optimal nutrition, it’s easy to go over the top.

Think of juices and smoothies as a supplement.


JUICING

CONS:
1. Juicing a fruit or vegetable strips away the fiber, leaving only sugar behind. The liquid form absorbs quickly in the body and causes spiked insulin levels. Plants in their whole form are naturally rich in fiber and this fiber helps to slow down the body’s absorption. For those with insulin regulation issues its best to stay away from juices.

2. If enjoying juice with a meal, the water content competes with and interferes with the hydrochloric acid in the stomach, causing inference with digestion and absorption of nutrients from the other food.

PROS:
1. Juice can be used as a tool for detoxing for those in good health. For example pomegranate juice increases the body’s glutathione levels and can be incorporated for this benefit.

2. When struggling to get the necessary nutrients needed for proper body functioning, juicing is a good way to get more nutrients into the body. If you have a less than stellar diet, a green juice can help with some nutritional deficit.


SMOOTHIES

CONS:
1. Many smoothies from restaurants and popular chains can be categorized as dessert. And there’s nothing wrong with that if you’re treating it as such. Throwing some kale into a mango, coconut, pineapple smoothie does not make it just as nutrient dense as a salad.

2. Smoothies pack in the sugar and calories per serving. Think about how many strawberries, mangos, blueberries and pineapple are in one glass? That’s quite a bit of fruit. Pureed fruit goes down quicker than if you were to devour a large fruit bowl. Now if you’re mixing vegetables into your smoothies the amount of sugar will greatly decrease.

3. Raw vegetables are not always best for nutrient absorption. Each vegetables is different like each person’s body is different. Some are absorbed more easily when cooked down. Kale is known to be difficult on digestion. And be cautious when starting out on a whole foods diet. The body needs time to adjust to eating large quantities of fiber-rich vegetables, so go gradually.

PROS:
1. Smoothies contain the whole food, fiber and juice for full nutritional benefit.

2. A blend of fruits, vegetables and protein make an ideal post work-out meal.

3. Adding smoothies to kids diets is a good option for those strongly resistant to all vegetables. By blending up greens with mango, the fruit masks the vegetables enough to avoid a battle.

4. For those trying to gain weight, smoothies are a good option. Make one with protein, either grass-fed whey powder or a nut-butter. Then add some fat like avocado, coconut cream, or full-fat dairy. The fat allows for the nutrients in the plants to be more absorbable and it will keep you full longer.

 

Juices and smoothies definitely have their place at the nutrition table. Look at them as a supplement to enhance your regular three meals a day. Now I’m going to enjoy my green super smoothie, as dessert.