Researchers divided nearly 9,200 adults into three groups based on their omega-3 consumption.
Dental exams showed that those in the middle and upper third for consumption of the omega-3's DHA and EPA were 23 percent to 30 percent less likely to have gum disease.
Business Week reports:
"About 54 percent of men and 46 percent of women over age 30 in the United States experience gingival bleeding, the earliest sign of periodontal disease ... In the general population, about 11 percent of adults aged 50 to 64 have moderate or severe periodontitis, rising to 20 percent of those over age 75."
Oral health is a fundamental part of optimal health, and there's convincing evidence linking the state of your teeth and gums to your overall health.
While good dental hygiene -- brushing, flossing and regular cleanings with your biological dentist -- is important, research is showing that some of the most important factors for your teeth and gum health have nothing to do with a toothbrush, and everything to do with your diet.
Omega-3 Fats are Great for Your Gums
The animal-based omega-3 fats EPA and DHA show strong promise for keeping your gums healthy. In the new study above, those with mid- to high consumption of omega-3s had up to a 30 percent lower risk of gum disease.
This makes perfect sense because chronic inflammation is a hallmark of gum disease, and omega-3 fats are effective in reducing chronic inflammation.
Periodontal disease involves both bone and the tissue that is in contact with that bone. From this contact, bacteria and toxic inflammatory compounds can easily enter your bloodstream.
Once in your bloodstream, these toxic compounds can harm the lining of your blood vessels, which can lead to both strokes and heart attacks, among other problems. So, reducing inflammation is of primary importance for your overall health and warding off gum disease as well.
In turn, every step you can take to keep gum disease at bay is worth it, as gum disease increases your risk of several other serious diseases, including:
- Lung disease
- Heart disease
How to Make Sure You're Getting Plenty of Omega-3 Fats
Plant-based omega-3 fats are highly beneficial and should be consumed, but the evidence is very clear that they are not an acceptable substitute for animal-based omega-3 fats.
This is primarily related to the fact that your body does not easily convert the ALA in plant-based fats to the longer fats of EPA and DHA that are found in animal-based omega-3s. And if you have diabetes, are overweight, have high blood pressure or high cholesterol or are elderly, your body has even more difficulty converting these fats.
It's EPA and DHA, not ALA, that are pivotal in preventing heart disease, cancer, and many other diseases, like gum disease.
Ideally you would receive all the animal-based omega-3s you'd need from eating seafood. Unfortunately, industrial pollution has contaminated most of the world's waters, and the seafood it contains, with a variety of dangerous toxins like mercury and PCBs.
This leaves purified fish oil supplements and another marine oil, krill oil, as alternatives. Although I still recommend fish oil in some cases, I believe krill oil is the best option for most people, for several reasons.
Krill oil, like fish oil, contains omega-3 fats such EPA and DHA. However, in fish oil these omega-3 fats are found in a triglyceride molecule that has to be broken down in your gut into its base fatty acids EPA and DHA.
Because of this, about 80-85 percent of it is never absorbed and instead is eliminated in your intestine. This is what causes about 50 percent of people to "burp up" the fish oil taste and not tolerate fish oil well at all.
Once the fatty acids are absorbed into your bloodstream your liver then has to attach it to phoshphatidyl choline molecule for it to be used by your body. The amazing beauty of krill oil is that they come right out of the bottle in the form your body can immediately use, phospholipid structure. Your body doesn't process it at all and uses virtually 100% of the DHA and EPA.
Unpublished new data suggests krill oil is actually absorbed 10-15 times better than fish oil.
Additionally, krill oil has the powerful antioxidant astaxanthin, which prevents the perishable DHA and EPA from going rancid. The vast majority of fish oil being sold is actually rancid before you even open the bottle, as it doesn't contain this protective antioxidant, which prevents the DHA and EPA from oxidizing.
The Importance of Your Diet for Teeth and Gum Health
In the 1900s, Dr. Weston A. Price did extensive research on the link between oral health and physical diseases. He was one of the major nutritional pioneers of all time, and his research is just as relevant today as it was back then.
He discovered that native tribes that still ate their traditional diet had nearly perfect teeth and were almost 100 percent free of tooth decay. Certain diseases were also nearly unheard of, such as chronic diseases of the heart, lungs, kidneys, liver, joints, and skin -- the types of diseases currently plaguing our society.
When Dr. Price analyzed his findings, he found that the native diets contained 10 times the amount of fat-soluble vitamins, and at least four times the amount of calcium, other minerals, and water-soluble vitamins as that of Western diets at that time.
Their diets were also rich in enzymes because they ate fermented and raw foods (enzymes help you to digest cooked foods), and contained at least 10 times more omega-3 fat than modern diets, and FAR fewer omega-6 fats.
Once these tribal populations were introduced to sugar and white flour, their health, and their perfect teeth, rapidly deteriorated.
His classic book Nutrition and Physical Degeneration details his fascinating findings and is well worth reading.
It's virtually impossible to have wholly undamaged teeth and gums without an optimal diet, no matter what other preventive methods you use, so make sure that in addition to eating plenty of animal-based omega-3 fats, you find out your nutritional type and eat accordingly. This will tell you which foods are ideal for your unique biochemistry.
You can also learn how to eat right for healthy teeth and gums, and overall health, with my comprehensive nutrition plan.