HB and I are always on the lookout for little ways to make big improvements. Show us something that costs a dime a day and boosts our chances for a long life, and we’re all over it.
And a dime a day is just about what one of the weirdest little tricks I’ve discovered is costing me. But before I tell you what the trick is, here’s why it’s worth your while…
When it comes to threats to your health, a lot of them have one thing in common. Everything I’ve seen says they’re linked to long-term inflammation. Heart trouble, blood sugar issues, chronic lung problems, even skin conditions… The list is pretty long.
Basically, inflammation is what you see when you cut your finger: The area swells and gets red and tender. It’s all part of the healing process. And that’s good.
When a germ invades your body, or you’re injured, inflammation tells you your body’s fighting back. When the problem is fixed, the inflammation stops, and all is well.
But it turns out lots things cause inflammation. Carrying around extra weight does it. Fat tissue sends out chemical signals that trigger inflammation. The typical American diet – high in carbs and junk food – does it, too. So does exposure to toxins. And these problems cause the kind of long-term inflammation linked all sorts of health problems.
But here’s a cause a lot of people – including doctors – don’t think of: Unhealthy gums.
Even mild gum problems trigger an inflammatory reaction. And this flood of defensive chemicals winds up all over your body, causing long-term systemic inflammation.
Which is exactly what can lead to problems with your heart, lungs, joints, skin and more.
One of the anti-aging decisions HB and I made was to take better care of our teeth. We didn’t know about the link to inflammation at the time. But we did know we didn’t want to spend 20 or 30 years gumming our food or wrestling with dentures.
So we got more serious about flossing. And when my dentist recommended an antiseptic rinse, I gave it a try.
But then I came across a study from Finland that mentioned a trick I hadn’t seen before. And the results were amazing. Best of all, this little secret is cheap and easy.
It’s xylitol gum.
Xylitol is a natural plant sugar. I dug up a bunch of studies online, and they almost all agree. Chewing xylitol gum cuts the acids in your mouth… reduces your risk of cavities… and wipes out a lot of the bacteria that can cause gum problems.
And here’s more good news: A brand-new study in the Journal of the American Heart Association found that taking care of your teeth and gums helps slow the build-up of plaque in major arteries.
And I can tell you xylitol really works.
I had an appointment for a cleaning a couple of months after I started chewing xylitol gum. The hygienist poked around in my mouth for a minute. Then she asked, “When was your last appointment?”
“Four months ago,” I told her.
She looked back in my mouth for another few moments. “This is going to be a quick visit,” she said. “It looks like you were just here.”
Needless to say, xylitol gum has become a regular part of our dental routine. It’s easy to find online. And for about a dime a day, it’s a heck of a good investment.
Brushing slows build-up of plaque in important arteries…
Brush Your Teeth, Help Save Your Heart?
Study links improved gum health to reduced risk of harmful plaque buildup in neck arteries.
MONDAY, Nov. 4 (HealthDay News) — Having healthy gums is good for your heart, a new study says.
Researchers found that as people’s gum health improved, the buildup of plaque in their arteries slowed. This narrowing of the arteries, called atherosclerosis, is a major risk factor for heart disease, stroke and death.
The study included 420 adults who underwent tests to assess their gum health and plaque buildup in their neck (carotid) arteries. Over a follow-up of roughly three years, improvements in gum health and a reduction in the proportion of bacteria linked with gum infection (periodontal disease) was associated with a slower rate of plaque accumulation in the neck arteries.
The findings were published online Oct. 28 in the Journal of the American Heart Association.
“These results are important because atherosclerosis progressed in parallel with both clinical periodontal disease and the bacterial profiles in the gums,” study lead author Dr. Moise Desvarieux, an associate professor of epidemiology at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health, said in a university news release. “This is the most direct evidence yet that modifying the periodontal bacterial profile could play a role in preventing or slowing both diseases.”
Gum disease-related bacteria may contribute to atherosclerosis in a number of ways. For example, animal studies suggest that these bacteria may trigger inflammation associated with atherosclerosis.
“It is critical that we continue to follow these patients to see if the relationship between periodontal infections and atherosclerosis carries over to clinical events like heart attack and stroke, and test if modifying the periodontal flora will slow the progression of atherosclerosis,” Desvarieux said.
Regular visits to your dentist and daily dental care can reduce your risk of gum disease.