Heart Disease: It’s NOT About Cholesterol
Did you know that 50% of people who have heart attacks and strokes have normal cholesterol? This is why I take an entirely different approach to cardiovascular disease (CVD) prevention, because managing the standard lipid profile– total cholesterol, triglycerides, LDL “bad” cholesterol, and HDL “good” cholesterol—leaves half of us exposed.
This year I took two courses with Mark Houston, MD of the Hypertension Institute of Nashville. He is the most forward-thinking cardiologist I know and has unparalleled success treating CVD. I will share with you over the coming months, new information I’ve gleaned from him that can reduce your chance of being a statistic.
Dr. Houston always starts his lectures stating the three causes of cardiovascular disease, and they don’t include high cholesterol:
- Oxidative Stress
- Blood vessel (auto) immune dysfunction
Enter Nitric Oxide
Nitric oxide (NO) is key to keeping these processes in check. Young people make NO from the amino acid arginine. Those of us over 40 though, can’t do that. We must make NO from vegetables. The best are beets, arugula and dark leafy greens, although celery and dark chocolate work too. But, more importantly, around 50% of our NO is made in our mouth. Yes, our mouth. So healthy mouth ecology is imperative for keeping these three causes of CVD at bay. Incidentally, evidence is mounting linking periodontal disease—the pockets in your gums measured by dental hygienists where bad bacteria live–to CVD.
Mouth Care Turned Upside Down
I listened to a webinar by Ellie Phillips, DDS on improving mouth NO production by improving mouth ecology. It ignited my interest so much that I purchased her Oral Health Boot Camp video series. Normally I would just read her book, but since my husband has periodontal disease significant enough to have required surgery, I thought it would be fun to watch the videos together. Not only was it fun, but it turned our world of mouth care upside down.
I want to share a few things Dr. Ellie recommends you STOP doing to improve your mouth ecology and ability to produce NO. If this piques your interest, I urge you watch her boot camp or read her latest book all the way to the end. I was skeptical but by the end she had me convinced, so hang with her.
Dr. Ellie’s Mouth Care DON’TS
- Stop brushing or scraping your tongue. It disrupts the bacterial colonies toward the back of the tongue that make NO.
- Avoid these ingredients in your oral care products:
- Glycerin: Dr. Phillips observes that it prevents the natural remineralization process leading to softer teeth that crack and decay. It may reduce bone remineralization, too.
- Baking Soda: Teeth are protected by a biofilm. Baking soda denatures proteins in the saliva responsible for creating a healthy biofilm leading to sensitive teeth and gum recession
- Hydrogen peroxide and teeth whitening products: They damage the protein matrix key to healthy tooth enamel. This essentially etched appearance makes teeth look whiter but gives bacteria a doorway to the deeper layers of the tooth leading to periodontal disease and decay.
- Stop oil pulling: This was quite the rage a few years back. It destroys healthy bacteria along with bad ones. Dr. Phillips suggests her mouth care approach instead.
- Stop aggressive flossing. It can push bacteria into the bloodstream, especially in an unhealthy mouth, and create the conditions for CVD and even Alzheimer’s Disease. It can also traumatize the gums, causing recession and sensitivity. If you floss, Dr. Phillips suggests that you never floss before you brush, floss carefully and don’t touch the gums.
- Stop water flossing or “waterpik” use. It breaks down the fibers that connect the gum to the teeth, preventing even the tiniest pockets from healing.
Hubby and I are trying Dr. Ellie’s Complete Mouth Care System and will report our progress in upcoming posts.