A2 Journalist, Paola Chellew asks Dr Maryam Dawjee to elaborate on the importance of diet and DNA in relation to dental health…
PC: From when we were children, it was drummed into our heads that sugar consumption is associated with dental cavities. But what of other nutrients consumed? And how important is our diet in terms of oral health?
MD: “Diet plays a major role in oral health. Often, we think that avoiding sugar is the best way to go, but we rarely consider the sugars that are hidden in other foods. For example, the building blocks of a carbohydrate consisting of monosaccharides. These are simple sugars, including glucose, fructose and lactose. While we know that there are trends to follow a low carb, high-fat diet, we also need to be aware that carbohydrates serve as sources of energy for children and active lifestyles.
Rather than thinking in a linear fashion, we need to start thinking more laterally in terms of what we are putting into our bodies, and why”.
PC: What happens when we consume carbohydrates?
MD: “The effect of sugar and carbohydrates on the presence of decay and caries, is based on the frequency in which we eat them. After a carbohydrate or sugar is consumed, this causes a drop in the Ph in your mouth. It becomes an acidic environment because sugar interacts with bacteria in your mouth to produce acid. These acids then remove minerals from your enamel. And while it’s true that the saliva assists in restoring the Ph balance, it, unfortunately, takes at least five-seven minutes to stabilise.
So, if you eat a cookie or a gummy worm, remember to drink some water or brush your teeth afterwards. By doing so, you can speed up this process and reduce the presence of the acid in your mouth, thereby lessening the risk of demineralisation. In contrast, should you suck a lollipop for about an hour, your oral cavity is constantly susceptible during that whole time due to the harmful bacteria in your mouth producing acid from the sugar”.
PC: Then would it be correct to say that a low carb diet would be beneficial when it comes to reducing tooth decay?
MD: “Yes. By reducing your carbohydrate consumption, you remove the fuel for the bacteria that causes this acidic environment. However, everybody is unique and requires a different diet and formula of management. There needs to be a very specifically tailored approach to our diets and to our oral health regimes”.
PC: What about the extreme diets: for instance, a carnivore, high fat diet that focuses on meat and eliminates grains, dairy or sugar, triggering ketosis in the body?
MD: “Carbohydrate restrictive diets, such as keto or paleo, are focused on the elimination of carbohydrates. Your body usually turns to carbohydrates as a source of energy. When there are none available, the next energy source is fat. When fat is converted to energy, the by-product of the metabolic process results in ketosis. There will be acid in the blood and urine, causing a metallic or chemical-like odour in the mouth, as well as dryness. This is hardly ideal, as the mouth needs saliva to neutralise the bad bacteria that are present – so while there aren’t any sugar bacteria present from a high carbohydrate diet – there is still a risk of demineralisation.
To avoid this, it is recommended that you increase your water consumption. Sucking sugar free sweets or sugar free gum could also decrease a dry mouth”.
PC: What about the vegan diet, based on plant-eating?
MD: “In an article published in the British Dental Journal, Joelle Booth and Julia Hurry found several surprising outcomes of a vegan lifestyle on dental health. One of the primary findings was the increased prevalence of demineralisation and white spot lesions. The reason for this can be attributed to the consumption of more starchy fruits and vegetables, as the intake of the root and fruit produce may result in the changing of the saliva Ph, which, in turn, leads to erosion”.
PC: Could the state of our oral health provide clues as to our predisposition for developing other diseases?
MD: “Yes, the presence of inflamed gingiva and periodontal disease can be indicative of the presence of other undiagnosed systemic conditions. Studies have shown an association between the inflammation associated with periodontal disease, as well as a predisposition to develop various cardiovascular diseases, diabetes type-2, pre-term birth and low birth weight”.
PC: Could you share your experience of DNA testing for your general health?
MD: “I have a plethora of autoimmune conditions, all of which were being treated individually (in all honesty, this bothered me quite a bit). I also struggled to lose weight, despite consuming a low carb, high-fat diet. I honestly thought that I was doing the right thing, by training five to six times a week and trying to restrict my calories. Yet I was really struggling to control my blood sugar. Being a type-1 diabetic, what often happens is that your doctor will continue to increase your insulin in order to control blood glucose. The higher your insulin requirements, the more likely you are to put on additional weight.
It was at this moment that I decided to visit DNAlysis, as I felt I was not getting the necessary information I needed through traditional methods. So I went ahead and had four tests done, namely: the DNA health test, the DNA Diet, the DNA sport, and lastly, the DNA Mind.
The DNA health test: Stipulated details regarding my genetic predisposition for diseases
The DNA diet test: Provided insight into what my body needed in terms of nutrition
The DNA sport test: Helped to maximise my training, and,
The DNA mind test: Assisted with stress management and mental health
“After a few discussion appointments with an accredited dietitian, I have a tailor-made manual for my body (one which enables me to consult it from time to time, working with a team that understands the systemic nature of my body).
I now live a healthier, happier life, and also feel more in control. What’s more, I have not only reduced my insulin requirement levels but have also lost some of the weight as well.
“In conclusion, it must be said that we are all unique; i.e. what works for one person might not have the desired outcome for another. Our genetics reveal our story, in addition to your oral health being connected to your general condition. Professional advice could be the key to finding your perfect daily diet, which will greatly contribute to your general health and wellbeing.
A2 Disclaimer: This article is published for information purposes only, nor should it be regarded as a replacement for sound medical advice.
This article was written by Paola Chellew and Dr Maryam Dawjee and edited by the A2 team EXCLUSIVELY for the A2 Aesthetic & Anti-Ageing Magazine Summer 2021 Edition (Issue 39 – Dec 2021 to Mar 2022).
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