If you want to know whether or not you’re likely to get cancer, heart disease, memory problems, rheumatoid arthritis and other life-threatening illnesses, a glance in the mirror might give you a good clue.
Research conclusively shows that the condition of a certain part of your body reflects the current health and likely future health of many of your organs. And you’d be wise to pay attention to what’s going on in this section of your anatomy.
Your life may depend on it.
The area in question is the gums in your mouth.
The most well-known danger in having infected gums is the risk to your heart. Studies such as one conducted at the University of Florida show that these infections – periodontal disease — are linked to problems in the arteries that feed the heart muscle with nutrients and oxygen.1
According to the Florida researchers, the bacteria that infect the gums are the same bugs that get into the bloodstream and lead to plaque blockages that hamper arterial blood flow.
“Our hope is that the American Heart Association will acknowledge causal links between oral disease and increased heart disease. That will change how physicians diagnose and treat heart disease patients,” says researcher Irina M. Velsko.
But if your gums are infected, heart trouble is just the beginning of your potential health problems.
Research at the University of Buffalo shows that for older women a gum problem also ups their risk of cancer.2
The study, which involved more than 65,000 women, demonstrates that gum diseases increase cancer chances by 14 percent. In this research, the chances of esophageal cancer received the biggest boost from gum infections – possibly because the bacteria could move so easily from the mouth into the esophagus.
Gum Disease Shortens Your Life
Other illnesses and health difficulties that are connected to having a gum infection include:
- Erectile dysfunction: For men in their thirties, having periodontal disease can triple the risk for suffering from erectile issues.3
- Dying younger: A seven-year study of more than 57,000 postmenopausal women showed that those with gum disease were 12 percent more likely to be dead by the end of the study.4
- Rheumatoid arthritis: A study at Johns Hopkins shows that the same bacterium that causes chronic gum infections also sets off the autoimmune response that is involved in rheumatoid arthritis.5
- Alzheimer’s disease: Investigations now also link the inflammation of gum tissue with an increased chance of falling victim to Alzheimer’s disease.6
If you want to try some natural lifestyle measures that can help ward off gum infections and the other ills that come along with them, researchers have uncovered a few.
One of the easiest ways can be to get blueberries into your diet. Research shows that blueberries contain natural chemicals that defend against oral plaque and gingivitis.7
These chemicals, called polyphenols, block the reproduction of bacteria known as F. nucleatum which can infect gums and form biofilms in the mouth. (Biofilms are formations of microorganisms that bind together so they become very difficult to kill or remove.)
Go Sugar-Free For Healthier Gums and Teeth
Another way to protect your gums is to keep sugar out of your meals and snacks. Tests in Germany show a clear correlation between sugar and gum disease.8
And the sugar consumption the Germans looked at consists of more than the occasional table sugar or honey you add to your own food. Sugar is found in a lot of places people don’t think of, such as ketchup, bread and salad dressing. The German researchers warn that too many processed foods are rich in sugar.
Along with soft drinks and juices, sugar-rich processed items include ice cream, frozen foods, pastries, cakes, cookies, spaghetti sauce and much more.
Plus, you should avoid tobacco products — they can triple your risk of gum problems. And using cannabis products – like marijuana, hashish, and hash oil – can also increase your chances of periodontal disease.9 (I wonder if potheads just forget to brush – ha!)
Of course, you should follow the standard procedures for oral health – brush your teeth every day and floss. A mouthwash is a good idea – look for a natural product that doesn’t contain alcohol (it increases oral cancer risk). Regular dental exams and periodic cleanings by a dental hygienist are also essential.