One big mistake that healthcare has made is that it has considered the body’s systems as separate. Gums are treated by the dentist, hearts by the cardiologist, and type 2 diabetes by the endocrinologist.
As a dentist, I see many patients with type 2 diabetes and advanced gum disease. It’s long been know that the two conditions are linked. We must consider the body as a whole if we want to cure type 2 diabetes.
Type 2 diabetes affects over 30 million Americans and is the seventh leading cause of death. What’s more, 7.2 million of that 30 million are unaware they have type 2 diabetes. This disease is on the rise and expected to affect one in three Americans by 2050.
These are staggering numbers, impossible to ignore in my opinion.
Gone are the days where the only piece of nutritional advice you’ll hear from a dentist is “don’t eat candy, it’ll rot your teeth.” As a functional dentist – I care about you and your health much more than that. Your diet and oral health are the gateway to your overall health – a fact that until recently had been largely overlook.
Up until this point, dentists have largely sat on the sidelines of the nutritional and systemic health conversation.
Let’s take a close look at how your teeth provide the secret to help cure type 2 diabetes.
What is the main cause of type 2 diabetes?
First, it’s important to understand what causes 2 diabetes in the first place, and that culprit is insulin resistance.
What does it mean to be insulin resistant? It occurs when your body needs more and more insulin to bring your blood sugar levels down. This happens when someone engages in an activity that raises their blood sugar levels up, over and over again.
What easily raises your blood sugar levels?
You guessed it.
Well, sugar and refined carbs are two of the worst for your blood sugar levels. So, not only should you avoid sugar because it “rots your teeth” but also because it’s a major contributor to type 2 diabetes.
A quick side note: Insulin resistance happens in type 1 diabetes but it’s due to an immune system attack on the insulin-producing cells and therefore considered an autoimmune disease – there are different solutions to these two types of illnesses. This article is focusing on type 2 diabetes.
Three key factors in dental diseases that help us understand type 2 diabetes.
Decreasing your sugar in your diet is the better known way to reverse type 2 diabetes and cure insulin resistance.
The mouth-body connection gives some more perspective on how to influence type 2 diabetes. These include vitamin D, sleep, and the gut microbiome.
First, the health of your gut is critical to your overall health. This is because your gut is home of trillions of microbes called the gut microbiome. These microbes work in symbiotic and antagonistic relationships within your body. A 2017 study using multiple therapies to manipulate the gut microbiome composition, found they could impact the individual’s health more rapidly. This study also found manipulating the gut microbiome as an effective way to avoid insulin resistance and therefore prevent diabetes.
The plot thickens.
Through choosing which microbes to favor through diet, probiotics, and more – it appears possible support glycemic control and improves treatments for people who are diabetic.
Second, researchers have found vitamin D plays a functional role in maintaining glucose tolerance through improving insulin sensitivity and modulating secretion. One study found vitamin D supplementation may reduce insulin resistance.
I believe vitamin D has health roles all over the body, I wrote a four-part series on it. Make sure you’re getting enough sunshine or supplementing.
Vitamin D, Sleep Apnea, Gut Health, and Diabetes
A consequence of our poor diets is we have crowded teeth and smaller airways. You might be surprised to hear it wasn’t always that way – our ancestors had straight teeth, robust jaws, and never brushed or flossed. As a result 22 million Americans suffer from sleep apnea.
I bring this up because sleep apnea increases a person’s risk for developing type 2 diabetes. Also, sleep-disordered breathing is also related to proper nutrition throughout life. And perhaps most importantly, the first line of defense in catching sleep-disordered breathing in patients early, are dentists. This is another area where dentists must get involved if we want to tackle the issue of pervasive type 2 diabetes with any success.
Dentists can tell early on if children are getting the right nutrition and ensure their airway remains open so they can benefit from quality sleep for the rest of their life. This is essential to preventing not only diabetes, but heart disease, cognitive decline, and more.
Sleep apnea is also linked to vitamin D deficiency and gut microbiome changes. So by addressing these three factors in type 2 diabetes, we provide the foundation to cure type 2 diabetes.
4 Ways Prevent or Reverse Type 2 Diabetes
With the oral-systemic link, we can now provide a better plan to cure type 2 diabetes. Here’s a summary of my suggestions.
1) Reduce the cause of insulin resistance
- Eliminate sugar
- Eliminate refined carbohydrates
- Switch to water from flavored drinks
2) Address vitamin D deficiency
- If possible get enough vitamin D from the sun
- Eat a fat-rich diet, high in fat-soluble vitamins A, vitamin D, and vitamin K2 – Walk About Emu Oil is a great source of all three of these nutrients.
- Make sure you’re getting enough magnesium – here’s a great magnesium to help with energy levels.
3) Improve your sleep and address snoring and sleep apnea
- Get screened for sleep apnea or upper airway resistance syndrome
- Start breathing and tongue exercises
- Get high-quality sleep (make sure you don’t have an undiagnosed sleeping disorder)
- Incorporate stress reduction techniques
- Eat more fiber (shoot for 100g per day)
- Eat prebiotic vegetables. Here’s a prebiotic supplement to get you started.
- Eat fermented foods 2-3 times a day
- Take a quality probiotic and oral probiotic – Here’s a primal gut probiotic to help heal your digestive system
- Start intermittent fasting by skipping breakfast once or twice a week
- Exercise 3-4 times a week
- Include strength training and HIIT training 1-2 times a week.
Now we want to hear from you. Have you been diagnosed with type-II diabetes?