Ep.71: The Lost Art of Healthy Teeth with Dr. Steven Lin
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Today we get to talk about the lost art of healthy teeth. Dr. Steven Lin will demonstrate how the health of our teeth directly impacts the health of our body. He is a board-registered dentist, writer, and speaker with work published in The Sydney Morning Herald and The British Dental Journal. He has also written for MindBodyGreen and About.com and given talks as part of the TEDx program.
Trained at USYD with a background in biomedical science, he is a passionate whole-health advocate, focusing on the link between nutrition and dental health. His mission is to prevent dental diseases instead of treating them. Steven’s journey began when, as a practicing dentist, he realized that today, we live with crippling oral disease. Whether it’s cavities, bleeding gums, crooked teeth or wisdom teeth impaction, there’s no doubt our modern mouths are very sick. Our current dental care is excellent at fixing these problems. However, it is failing to prevent oral disease. Steven soon became frustrated with the lack of answers for WHY dental diseases occur.
Today, Steven Lin focusses on helping his patients prevent dental disease and to avoid treatment. He looks for the root cause of disease, believing that the mouth-body connection is the best way to monitor our health.
Dr. Steven Lin is currently the Principal Dentist at Luminous Dentistry, a dental practice on the Central Coast of New South Wales, Australia, that strives to give individuals of all ages the best possible smile.
LINKS AND RESOURCES:
Get started on your 28 day Healthy Mouth, Healthy Body Challenge: Click Here
Check out his new book The Dental Diet
Speaker 1: Ready to live at the higher vibrations, where peace, love, joy, and good health are the daily standard? That’s what this show is all about. Welcome to Vibe. And here’s your host, Robyn Openshaw.
Robyn: Hey, everyone, it’s Robyn Openshaw, and welcome back to Vibe. I’ve missed you. And I hope that you’re into this topic today, because I think it affects all of us.
It’s not the first time that I’ve talked about the health of our mouth, and how the choices we’re making in dentistry and in nutrition that’s related to, the health of our teeth actually affects the health of our body. They’re more connected than most people imagine. I think they’re more connected than most conventional dentists imagine.
And so, I’m really excited to be introducing Doctor Steven Lin to you. He comes to us from Australia, and on this day that I’m interviewing him, he’s actually in LA. He’s been doing a lot of TV appearances. He’s a TEDX speaker, and he’s just launched his brand new book, The Dental Diet.
Doctor Lin and I have been chatting because I told him, when I heard about his book coming out and contacted him, he’s got this background in biomedical science; he’s a really good fit for our topic, here, of living a higher vibration life.
But he is really deep into studying the nutritional basis of dental disease. I was telling him that I and my former husband both had braces. In fact, I’ve had them twice. So, we both had braces, and we had four children – and as you know if you’ve been following GreenSmoothieGirl for a long time, my oldest child was born with some serious health problems, in and out of hospitals, emergency rooms. He was in total freefall. He was diagnosed “failure to thrive.” When he was 15 months old, he had fallen below the fifth percentile for weight, even though he was born at nine pounds, and 23 inches, and his father is 6’4″. I’m tall, too.
We were in a total crisis, so I turned our diet around when my first child was only a year old. And we turned the diet around hardcore, because I felt like if I didn’t, we were going to lose him. There were a number of times we almost did lose him.
I was super motivated, and I did things that most moms aren’t willing to do. If you’re cruising along with these chronic, but sort of low-grade health issues, you might not make the changes that we did; but I made them, and I stayed with them for a year or two in total fear, because I didn’t want any backsliding. I didn’t want to be in emergency rooms anymore. I didn’t want my son on five courses of liquid steroids in his first year of life. “Guaranteed to stunt his growth,” they told me.
I’ll tell you, those nutritional changes that we made in that first year… I was telling Doctor Lin, the crazy thing is, with two parents with crappy teeth, with braces on as teenagers, that we had four children, none of whom have needed braces. And we have maintained the nutritional changes, a mostly plant-based diet, an almost entirely whole foods diet. Can’t tell you that my three adult children are out there eating whole foods diet. I don’t know what all they eat. But they were raised with a diet that is appropriate to develop healthy, strong tissues, bone, and oral health.
Doctor Lin’s goal is to help define crooked teeth as a nutritional deficiency, and your average neighborhood dentist isn’t going to talk to you about nutrition at all. He wants you to know, Doctor Lin does, that it’s related to some of the most significant chronic health problems on the planet.
That was a long introduction. Welcome, Doctor Steven Lin.
Dr. Lin: Thanks, Robyn. It was a great introduction. Your story is so powerful. I’m so excited to dig into that one.
Robyn: What do you think about that? We’re going to dig into, who were some of your early influences? I have a long dental saga, and we won’t take any more time talking about right now, but I’m sure you’re going to talk about the work of Doctor Weston Price.
Our jaws and teeth are declining, generation after generation, lately; it’s weird, unusual. You probably don’t see it very often, that you get worse, worse, worse – then generation four, now, of eating processed foods, my children’s generation, turns it around and has good teeth. What do you think about that?
Dr. Lin: I think that’s a very powerful message that every parent needs to know, that we have such an environmental influence over our kids’ development. We’ve been told a story that crooked teeth and orthodontic braces are a genetic destiny. Well, that has not been scientifically proven.
When we think about, and when we look at, the history of teeth, jaws, even society, wisdom teeth impactions, it hasn’t occurred in one generation; as soon as we eat the modern diet, we begin to get these problems.
What this means for parents is that, for a kid that needs braces at 10-12, or a young adolescent that needs their wisdom teeth out at early 20s, that is the same problem of jaw growth. And our kids’ jaws aren’t growing because we’re not feeding the right things.
There is a story in our teeth. This is what led me down the road to writing The Dental Diet, that we’ve forgotten how to eat to grow and fit 32 human teeth.
There are health problems that connect to this. When our teeth don’t have the space to fit, that means our jawbones themselves haven’t grown. That means our airways, by definition, have less space. So, we now have an epidemic of kids that can’t breathe at night, and we’re talking about obstructed sleep apnea, and less severe versions of the disease.
What that is, is that their craniofacial structures don’t support breathing; when jaws and teeth don’t fit, airways don’t fit, then you can’t breathe. If that’s not alarming to parents, I don’t know what is, and we need to get this message out there that teeth [can be] a symptom of eating the wrong way, but also breathing and functioning the wrong way, as well.
Robyn: Getting braces is almost like a rite of passage here, in adolescence, in North America. And it’s pretty weird. Nobody needed braces 100, 200, 500 years ago, right?
Dr. Lin: Braces, as we see them, only really popped up in the ’50s and ’60s, because it was invented. Metal brackets, and the wires that we know, that was a very, very new thing, and that’s where the orthodontic industry really stepped up and became what they are today. We’re talking about less than a century ago, and braces didn’t exist.
Actually, the orthodontic industry was much more focused on facial development for a very long time. Right from its inception in the 1700s in France, we had more of a focus on, “Why aren’t our jaws and face growing, and how do we fix our function? Oral function, tongue, lips, breathing – how does that influence growth?” There were also guys writing about food as well, including a very famous dentist, who I’m sure we’ll talk about, in the ’30s.
But all of this was lost. This was lost, and when we walk into a dental office today, we’re told our mouths have crooked teeth, and that it’s a destiny. That’s not true. We need to reprogram that, because crooked teeth is the biggest health epidemic on the planet, and unless we start to understand this, we’re walking down a very dangerous road of our genetic lineage, I think, going in a direction that’s not healthful.
We have a lot of kids [on medications]; for instance, 10 percent of kids today are on ADHD medicines. Half of those have sleep issues, so why aren’t we looking at the breathing, the structures that help our kids to breathe and sleep the way they’re designed to?
Robyn: What I hear you saying is, if your kid needs braces, if your kid has impacted wisdom teeth, if your kid’s jaw is too narrow, this isn’t just a cosmetic issue. You’re saying this has everything to do with his breathing, with his ability to sleep, his ADD.
Dr. Lin: Exactly. The corpus said, “Crooked teeth is a symptom of there not being enough space in the jawbones.” The best way to illustrate it is when we have a newborn, and the first signals they get for the jaw to start growing is breastfeeding. A child will actually push the mother’s nipple up to their palate, which is soft like wax, and that actually pushes an expansive force on the maxilla, or upper jaw. That’s what grows the dental arch in those first formative months.
And so when we move away from breastfeeding, we increase the risk of a skinny, high palate, or poorly-developed facial structures, that result in crooked teeth. And these things occur throughout life. Nasal breathing: a child that breastfeeds learns to breathe through their nose, with their tongues on the palate. That’s how, functionally, we need kids to be positioning their mouth and jaws. If we correct a child’s breathing through their nose with their tongue to the roof of the mouth, their teeth will actually straighten naturally, because they grow.
We now have a budding model of orthodontics, called myofunctional orthodontics, that actually teaches a kid to breathe right, to use their tongue properly, and we get some expansion devices in there depending on their function. We check the tongue ties.
We can intervene in this growth process, instead of waiting for crooked teeth in the adult dentition and then extracting teeth, which is a travesty because that, by definition, takes away airway volume. Then we’re starting solve the problems that will lead to long-term sleep issues, airway problems, and lots of other conditions as well.
Robyn: Interesting. Let’s back up to your story. What led you to get off the beaten path? It just seems to me like it’s often the really, really high-quality dentists who go outside of your dental school training to discover things, like the impact of nutrition on oral health, and more than just your teeth, the whole shape of your face. And I wonder, were you trained just in the regular schools of dentistry? What’s it like there in Australia? Is it about the same as the US? How did you get off the main track, and decide to pursue the nutritional approach?
Dr. Lin: I was conventionally trained. As you mentioned, I’ve got a background in sports nutrition and biomedical science. But I got out into the world, and kind of realized that there was a lot of sick people out there, with sick mouths, that I didn’t have answers for. Kids with jaws that didn’t grow, chronic gum disease.
I was taking the last teeth out of chronically infected mouths in people’s 30s and 40s, and that’s just… there was no answer there. I just was trained how to take the teeth out, and put a denture in. This is drastically affecting people’s lives. Tooth decay is the most common chronic disease in kids. How are we not approaching these problems differently?
I took some time away from practice; I didn’t know if I could be a dentist. I actually was backpacking through Europe, and in Turkey, in a youth hostel, I actually came across a traveler’s shelf where people left their books. And there was a book there called Nutrition and Physical Degeneration by Weston A. Price. And I’d never heard of it. In seven years of university training, I was never told about Weston A. Price.
And so I picked the book up, and it was an eye-opening moment. There were 15,000 photographs. There was talk of how ancestral diets related to no tooth decay, and these amazing, wide dental arches that I don’t see. I don’t see kids that grow jaws that fit 32 teeth. So, I was like, wow, what is this?
I actually dismissed it when I first saw it, because I was like, “This is obviously outdated. It wasn’t in my university training.” I put the book in my backpack, and went away, but I realized that it kept speaking to me. I went back to it a number of years later, and looked, and realized I didn’t understand it.
And then I found there was a huge story as to why Price’s work was lost, why we haven’t understood it in a modern dental context, and why what he said was absolutely true. We’ve actually played out the consequences of doing the opposite of what he said. It really opened my eyes to a broader bank of research. Human anthropology, vitamin D metabolism, the human microbiome, epigenetics – all of these things have only popped up in the last 20 years, and collaborate what Price said.
So, that was my journey down to writing The Dental Diet, and that’s what I’ve tried to bring together in that book: his historical perspective, but also how our mouth tells us how to eat, and how it always has throughout history. We’ve gone so far away from what our ancestors used to eat, and how to eat for dental health. Dental disease does not occur in any biological system on the planet, until we eat that civilized diet. The Industrial Revolution was a turning point of when we see crooked teeth. It happens in one generation.
All of these things weren’t taught to me, so building out how to eat today to prevent dental disease naturally has been a big journey. But it’s one that I’ve really enjoyed, because I think that dental health is such a practical and powerful way to change your life. I really hope that’s what the book, and the programs we’re trying to build for people and parents, that’s what, ultimately, they achieve.
Robyn: Why do you think dental schools don’t teach nutrition?
Dr. Lin: You know what, that’s a funny one. Dental schools are very focused on treatments. I think there’s one side, a monetary side to it, in that the research is driven by companies that are funding the next kind of restorative material, next implant, the next whatever. Those kind of things make money, so that’s one big push through education institutes.
But the other side is, we didn’t have the scientific understanding, until very recently, to really underpin how powerful nutrition can really be for dental growth, tooth decay. The human microbiome project was only 10 years ago. It takes 20 years for research like that to establish in clinical practice.
So, I think there’s been two problems, in that there’s a monetary aspect to it, where treatment makes money and so that’s what drives education, but also there’s been a lack of scientific understanding to really connect it all systemically. I think we’ve come to that point now, where we have all the research, and we need to put it all together. I’m hoping that we can get a new generation of dentists out there that can change this conversation.
Robyn: I think we have like eight of them in Utah. We’ll put in the show notes, a holistic dental finder that we put together. We called and emailed and snail mailed every single biological dentist in the US.
I was talking to Doctor Lin about this, before our episode, that there’s no real word for what these dentists are doing, but mostly, in the US, they identify as biological dentists. But it’s not like there’s some certification that you go get. It’s not like dental school will endow you with the title of biological dentist. They don’t even recognize that.
But in medicine, they’re organizing around the concept of functional medicine. And Doctor Lin is really a pioneer out there, helping organize other practitioners, and he was telling me that EMTs, and people working with breathing, and nutrition, and sleep, and testing mercury in the body, they all need to be part of coalescing around this catastrophe that’s going on in all of our mouths and our jaws, right? Do you want to say anything about that?
Dr. Lin: What I’ll say is that there’s a huge, budding model of dental practitioners out there, that are doing such great work to understand functionally how to heal the oral cavity, how to heal growth, how to guide growth in kids. We are building a multidisciplinary approach now.
For instance, in Los Angeles here, we’ve got one of the first tongue tie surgical courses going on at the moment. I’m actually at the institute today, and what they’re doing is teaching practitioners how to diagnose oral restriction, which is the flap of skin on the tongue, and actually surgically correct that.
Now, this has actually been established in Brazil as law. So, every kid in Brazil needs to, by law, be checked for an oral restriction, or tongue tie, which is the flap of skin. We don’t have that in the US, Australia, the UK, because we’ve not been taught that, but what this is, is it’s a link to how the oral cavity is far more connected to the body, and we have an interplay in this. This is being taught by an EMT.
There are sleep physicians. There are myofunctional therapists. Speech therapy is a big aspect to this as well. There’s a whole multidisciplinary approach that can see the oral-systemic connection, and this is where I hope fictional medicine is going to go as well, because functional medicine has left dentistry out of the party. Societally we put it together this way, but medicine and dentistry need to come together.
I think what I’ve seen is that we have a model here that can click nicely, and all of the sudden, we’ve got the answers, because the mouth doesn’t act as an independent factor from the rest of the body. The science is now there, and we need to move on with this, because people don’t want segmented care. We don’t want treatments that are just looking at one symptom. We want to make sure that we’re addressing the whole body, and really looking to change our health as a whole.
Robyn: I want to get into what a good diet is for having children who have strong jaw, face, teeth. But let’s back up, because we glossed over a couple of things. I want to talk about the human microbiome project that you mentioned. But first, back up even a little bit more.
Say a little bit more about what the work of Weston A. Price was about. He was a dentist, he goes stomping around the world and looking in the mouths of all these native peoples who have never eaten processed food, and what did he find? What was this, back in the ’50s?
Dr. Lin: ’30s. He published in ’38. The amazing thing about Weston A. Price is the context, right? This was just before World War II. This is a dentist before any of the kind of industrialized food that we’ve seen today had this hunch.
He was in Cleveland, Ohio, and he said, “People who eat the modern diet, I think they’re sick.” He had kids, for instance, that had tuberculosis. And he heard that there were populations that ate the non-industrialized diet and weren’t sick.
So, all of the sudden, he decided to stomp around the world, as you put it. And that’s exactly what he did. For 10 years, he and his wife went to nearly every continent on the planet, and looked at where the modern diet intercepted traditional cultures.
It was such a multifaceted study. I think it’s one of the most important human health books ever written. But what he looked at was, he went to a culture, he looked at the people that were still living on the traditional diet that they’d had for thousands of years. He looked at the anthropological history, the archeological records. What did their skulls and teeth look like for generations before?
He then looked at the populations that had started to eat the modern diet. He would give them a dental exam, and he would measure their food nutrients. What he did was compare the nutrients in their food to the nutrients back home. He collated all that. He also took 15,000 photographs, which you can look up on the internet if you haven’t seen them.
What he found was, in one generation, as soon as we eat the modern diet, we start to get tooth decay. We start to get this degeneration of the dental arch. Crooked teeth popped up in one generation.
It didn’t occur [for them]. He saw beautiful dental arches that did not require orthodontics, that had space behind their wisdom teeth. If you look at these, just a quick Google search, you’ll see these amazing people. with these cheekbones and jaws. I don’t see them in dental practice anymore, and that was the very confronting moment for me, when I first saw Price’s book.
But what he was saying is that there are three nutrients that every society seems to eat that seem to grow jaws, and he really tried to pinpoint into these nutrients. He knew vitamin A, vitamin D. The third one he called activator X.
Now, he actually died 10 years later without identifying activator X, and so his work was lost. He was discredited for his focal infection theory with root canals and extracting teeth. It was discredited by the American Dental Association. And his name kind of fell out of print.
But 70 years on, his work is reprinted, and then in 2007, with Chris Masterjohn on the cover, that activator X was revealed to be actually vitamin K2. What he was talking about was a vitamin, that we didn’t even really know existed back in the 30s, that was key to tooth decay, immune system, jaw and dental growth and development. And we now know that K2 works exactly alongside A and D.
When D absorbs calcium, menaquinone 4 and menaquinone 7, which is the chemical name, it acts to carry calcium out of your soft tissues, stop you from having heart attacks, and into your bones and teeth. They activate an immune system inside your teeth. We can be immune to tooth decay if you eat enough vitamin D, and then enough K2 and A to activate those cells inside your teeth.
This is what Price noticed, from people that didn’t brush their teeth, and our toothbrushes weren’t invented 50 years ago. He saw people with plaque-filled, kind of slimy, green teeth, that didn’t have tooth decay. And the reason is that they had an immune system. They had an oral microbiome that protected them.
So, Weston A. Price was completely misunderstood, and unfortunately, we didn’t have the scientific validation to really explain what he observed. And that’s what was so important about Price’s work, that we didn’t know why all of the things he observed were so important.
That’s why we now have the scientific bridge, and that’s what I’ve tried to bring together in The Dental Diet – we can explain how we prevent braces, how we prevent tooth decay, because we have immune systems. We have an osteo immune system that is directed by these nutrients that he talked about, that we can scientifically talk about now.
I think that bridge has been lost, and that we now have that, it’s time to have this discussion that he was trying to have with us in the ’30s. You’ve got to remember as well, that antibiotics were being invented and kind of mobilized in the ’30s and ’40s. So, he was this guy talking about ancestral skulls and diets, and then we had antibiotics and surgeries, and we were like, we’re going to go down this road. And that’s one thing, but I think we’ve got to go back to this understanding of understanding how nutrition impacts both the dental arch and our immunity to tooth decay.
Robyn: So, how does our dental development affect our face, and the beauty of our face? Because that was the thing that was so remarkable. You were talking about how these people that Price discovered, they hadn’t brushed their teeth in their lives. They’d never had a cavity. They had this wide cheekbone, kind of what we think of now as beautiful, but now our faces are just getting so narrow. Talk a little bit about dental development and beauty.
Dr. Lin: The amazing that Price documented is he just took the photographs, and he didn’t even really define them, but he’s like, look at this face. And you look at the faces of these people, and it makes your heart beat. The human body is so interconnected to how we communicate through our facial muscles, our movements – and when our faces don’t develop, it takes away some of our being.
Our biological messages to a mate is to show that we’re healthy, that we are passing on good genes, or that we’ve had a good upbringing. Faces are designed to do that. A smile is probably one of the first things that people looked at as being beautiful. But there’s a reason for that.
A straight, healthy smile is embedded in well-developed jawbones. So, the maxillary and mandible, which are the upper and lower jaw bone, when they’re widely developed, you have lovely, straight teeth, wide teeth. On the other side of that, if you compare ancestral skulls and you look at their big, wide, straight teeth, and then you look at a modern skull, and you turn them around, on the other side is the airway. And so, when you have a big, wide, straight smile, you have a big, wide, straight airway. When you have a small, cramped, kind of squeezed-in smile, you have a small, cramped, squeezed-in airway.
What this does is send biological messages. Our cheekbones, the corners of our jaws, where our wisdom teeth should be, they are all biological messages of health. This is what he was talking about, that he didn’t understand, but we now understand; this impacts our sleep, and very deep neurological processes, when we don’t breathe right. We need to get back to this deep understanding of how the body works.
Robyn: I want to just mention that even though Doctor Lin is heavily influenced by the work of Weston A. Price, this was all backstory; now we’re going to get into the good stuff, about what does your diet have to do with all this? I’m sure he’s also influenced by Francis Pottenger, and the Pottenger cat study, which taught us even more, and how Huggins here in the US paid a heavy, heavy price in terms of his own career being maligned by the dental profession.
It’s interesting the way you put it, Steven, that we were just on two different tracks. America was falling in love with drugs, and surgery, and interventions, at the same time that Price was trying to say, hey, look at this boring native diet, and what it does for people’s jaws and teeth, but America was busy falling in love with chemicals. So, like so many geniuses, his work has only started to really be rebirthed by really free-thinking, brilliant dentists like you.
So, I really appreciate that you’re even having this conversation, and within biological dentistry, you’re kind of the guy who’s really taken up the cause of “don’t forget the diet.” So, what does diet have to do with crooked teeth?
Dr. Lin: With Pottenger’s cat study, we wrote that into chapter six because really, we need to understand that your jaws, your craniofacial system, are an epigenetic, very responsible system. Every bite you take, every breath you take, actually influences how your jaws and even teeth are structured.
One big thing about this to understand is that the first principle of dental nutrition is oxygen is the number one nutrient. The way we breathe, we should be breathing through our nose. That delivers nitric oxide, which increases oxygen perfusion, and when we breathe through the mouth, and especially for kids, we increase the risk of high palates and poorly-developed dental arches.
Function plays a role in nutrients and chewing. So getting a kid to breathe right, getting a kid to chew hard foods, getting a kid to posture their tongue to the roof of the mouth, and to close their lips, is a part of dental nutrition. That’s one aspect. Obviously, breastfeeding is a great model of that.
What Price talked about were these three nutrients, the fat-soluble vitamins, A, D, and K2. He found that every culture had a way of sourcing these nutrients. With these three, they are found in different forms in nature, so you can get them.
For instance, there are biological forms in plants, which are converted to animal form. He found that societies would be very careful in how they treated their animal products to make sure that they had these nutrients, because if you have poorly-treated animals, in industrially-raised, grain-fed farms, they don’t have these nutrients. This is what he found, even in the 30s.
What Price was drastically saying is that we need to treat our food well, or it won’t treat us well. A, D, and K2 only come from a set of food, that if they’re treated the right way, then we get them on the plate. That’s really important. I think sourcing is so important for our foods, and we don’t understand that you’re likely not getting these crucial nutrients. Because what they do is they guide hormonal signals in the body.
In a kid, vitamin D, vitamin K2 will actually guide growth hormone, and testosterone, sex hormone balance, that then guide the jaw, and tell the jaw to grow. These kind of messages are drastically lost now, with problems with sex hormone imbalances, infertility. It’s all a flow from our jaws not growing.
But then the third factor is, as you mentioned, the microbiome, and the bacteria. We’ve been told to scrub and brush, and disinfect our mouth with mouthwash. Well, actually, bacteria have a distinct role in protecting us against diseases. Tooth decay, gum disease, bad breath, all of those conditions are caused by a loss of probiotic bacteria.
Those probiotic bacteria are basically waiting for us to feed them all those fibrous vegetables, very fibrous vegetables, prebiotic fibers, and removing those simple carbohydrates that we get from simple sugars and processed flours that we eat today.
The other factor of this is actually probiotic fermented foods. Actually replenishing those bugs that protect us. We know now that there are species that protect us against tooth decay, gum disease, and so on. We need to replenish them.
These factors become all very simple when we guide nutrition around the mouth; every time you swallow, you swallow thousands of bacteria in the gut. We know what the gut does in terms of connecting to chronic disease, so why we are going about healing chronic disease through understanding it as a gut dysfunction, rather than putting that together with the mouth, is really kind of short-sighted.
I’m hoping that we can reprogram the way we think about food, nutrition, that directly relates to our mouth, so that we can reprogram how we eat as a whole.
Robyn: I want everybody to get The Dental Diet and learn about specific foods, but what’s interesting is, I was talking to you about this before the show, that in studying the blue zones, which are the most long-living people currently on the planet, they eat mostly plants. And the ones that do eat any animal products, it’s a couple times a month. And they’re coming from cleaner sources than we have available to us.
Then another issue I have with people taking a look at the Weston A. Price diet is they were not all strictly, or 90/99 percent, plant-based. Those cultures that had this amazing dental health, and weren’t dying of chronic, degenerative disease, either, by the way, ate significant amounts of animal protein back then. And I have my concerns, as I told you, with whether we even have access to animal products that are that clean, that aren’t full of steroids, antibiotics, hormones, that weren’t fed gummy worms.
I read a story about beef ranchers feeding their cows gummy worms, because they got them by the truckload really cheap. Obviously, that’s not a standard, but that’s kind of the level that we’re at, in terms of how we’re treating the animals that we eat. So, what do you advocate for, in terms of a strong jaw and teeth?
How much of your diet should be dairy products? We were taught,” get your vitamin D from dairy products if you want strong bones and teeth.” That’s what we were taught. How much of your diet should be meat? How much of your diet should be plants? How much of your diet should be processed foods?
Dr. Lin: I’ve tried to draw up a food pyramid. Well, I have drawn up a food pyramid in The Dental Diet, and what it looks like is the base of it is plants. That really tells us that, for the vast majority of what we eat, it should be coming from a variety of plants. I think this is really important, because historically, we’ve eaten a vast majority.
We’ve actually changed our plant intake as well, it’s something like seven species we’ve now reduced our intake of vegetables to. So, a variety, and all these different fibers are what create microbial diversity. That’s a huge part of understanding how to create a healthy oral environment, because you have diverse, ecologically stable bacteria that then go on to your gut.
The next tier up are what I call the focus foods. The foods that contain these fat-soluble nutrients, that you don’t really get from other sources. That’s an animal source, like a well-sourced piece of meat. Dairy is in there.
Now, dairy is a very gray pictures, now. I try and take people through that in the book, in that if you are dairy intolerant, you probably need to remove it and at least see how you go, and then there’s gray. You can try and introduce ghee if you like. And the reason why I say that is because ghee can be a great source of vitamin A, D, and K2.
Robyn: Ghee, hold on. G-H-E-E, is clarified butter. Tell us a little bit about why ghee is so good.
Dr. Lin: A lot of the problems that people have with dairy is actually [casein intolerance]. Obviously, there’s lactose intolerance, which is what we have in milk, and a small amount in yogurt. But then there’s the casein proteins; this is actually due to having pasteurized, homogenized dairy that’s taken away from its natural sources, we have proteins that our bodies don’t recognize.
Ghee is called clarified butter, as you said, and what that is, is it’s the pure butter fat. They actually scrape all the proteins off. You kind of boil it. That’s what the clarification process is. Scrape all the proteins off, and you’re left with this yellow slab. That’s removed all of the casein proteins, and then you’ve got the pure fat.
If you get a bit of a rash, or you feel a bit bloated, or a little bit sick after dairy, it might be a casein reaction. With certain people, when you’re introducing dairy, I suggest trying ghee first, because it’s got the least amount of these allergic factors. But it’s always got to be well-sourced. For people that do tolerate dairy, ghee and butter can be a great addition to a meal, but you’ve got to know where it’s come from.
Then the other part of this tier are fermented foods. That’s your saurkrauts, your natto if you can get your hands on it. Your kombuchas. These are the live, probiotic foods that, unless they’re cultured the right way and refrigerated, you don’t get these live bugs.
We need to think about how these three groups are sourced and prepared, because otherwise we lose their beneficial factors. That’s something I would just try and get through to the reader, is you need to understand where your food comes from, and how it’s reaching your table, and how you’re preparing it even.
There is a variety of ways you can fill these nutrient capabilities, as long as you understand all the different factors. Think about how you can do it, but it’s about understanding, firstly. If we don’t know this, there’s no way we can solve the problem.
Robyn: I entirely agree. Well, GreenSmoothieGirl is launching a baby site; it’s called HolisticAnswers.com, and I really want to work with Doctor Lin as one of our contributing dentists there. When you hear this episode, we will probably already be live with HolisticDentistAnswers.com.
We’ll have a lot of guest bloggers from among the very best of biological dentistry, what Doctor Lin is calling functional dentistry. I think that’s probably the best term for it, honestly, because that’s how people stepping outside a standard of care, and wanting to look at root cause, and help people actually get well, are organizing in the medical field.
I like it. I love what you’re doing, Steven. I love your book. It is called The Dental Diet. Make sure you pick it up, everyone, and Steven, I look forward to working with you more. Thanks for coming to us all the way from across the pond today, and good luck with your book launch.
Dr. Lin: Thanks, Robyn. It’s such a pleasure. And thank you for all your work, too. It’s so important we get this information out there, and I think we can really help people change their lives for the better. So, thank you so much for that.
Robyn: My pleasure.