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Nutrition to Optimize Oral (and Overall!!) Health and Healing

A critical concept for overall health and healing. Maximize nutrients and minimize inflammatory inputs. Nutrient density of our food is essential for the health of our teeth and gums, for the proper growth of our jaws and face, and for the dependent stabilization of our airway and TMJ. This is true for adults, and it is especially true for our growing kids. When systemic inflammation is high and available nutrients are low, it is impossible for the body to grow, heal, and restore appropriately.

If you know me, you know that I could talk for hours about things in which I have great interest. I’m going to give a quick and dirty summary at the beginning, but read on if you’re interested in more details.

Cheat Sheet for Nutritional Domination: 

✅ Eat foods as close to their natural state as possible. THIS IS THE KEY TO NUTRITIONAL HEALTH. 

✅ Fill your diet with nutrient dense foods.

✅ Eat organic to avoid toxic pesticides and herbicides. This is especially true with “The Dirty Dozen” of produce. Also important for anything with wheat based flour or oats, as conventional versions of these grains are often sprayed with toxic Glyphosate to dry them for harvest. Non-organic products from corn and soy are also pretty certain to be bathed in Glyphosate. Listen to this podcast interview with Dr. Zach Bush, MD to gain an understanding of how Glyphosate affects our health. 

✅ Buy your food as locally as possible.

✅ Know where your food comes from. Cook at home whenever you can. Any restaurant and convenience food is going to be cooked in cheap inflammatory seed oils- exceptions to this are extremely rare.

✅ Add fermented foods to your diet. Sauerkraut, kimchi, sourdough, kefir, kombucha.

✅ Supplements. Individual supplement needs are highly variable, and I am a firm believer in getting all the nutrients that we can from food. There are a few key nutrients that are nearly impossible to get in optimal amounts for immune health and oxidative repair from our diet. Vitamins D3 and K2. Liposomal Vitamin C. I feel that these are a good baseline for anyone. Your specific needs for others are best discussed with a functional medicine provider.

✅ Some key words in the world of healthy food: Local. Organic. Regenerative. Pastured. Grass Fed. Wild caught. Sprouted.

⛔ Eliminate ultra processed foods.(Avoid the center aisles of the grocery store)

⛔ If it’s in a package, READ THE LABEL. Always. You may think that you’re getting a healthy bag of cashews (the only ingredients should be cashews and salt)…but you may find that there is canola oil lurking inside!

⛔ Drop it and Run if you see any of these words on a package: High fructose corn syrup. MSG. Inflammatory Seed Oils (Soybean, Canola, Vegetable, Corn, Cottonseed, Sunflower, Safflower, Margarine, Crisco). Emulsifiers. Artificial Dyes (Red 40, Blue 1, Yellow 5, etc). Synthetic Preservatives (BHT/BHA, TBHQ).  

⛔ Avoid anything likely sprayed with toxic herbicides and pesticides. Watch out for anything with corn (corn syrup, cereal, tortilla chips, etc), as anything nonorganic will be GMO to allow it to be sprayed with toxic herbicides and pesticides. Same with soy (soybean oil, soy sauce, etc). ALWAYS with grains such as oats or wheat (that includes any flour or anything made with flour), because it is a common practice to quickly dry out these grains for harvest by spraying them with Glyphosate. Check out this article and this one for more information. 

⛔ Beware of dairy substitutes and meat substitutes. See point 1 in this list. Non-dairy creamer, oat milk, almond milk, “Impossible Burgers”, etc. The common and frightening additions to make frankenfoods pose as an entirely different food that you will find on the labels include various combinations of the “drop and run” items listed above. 

⛔ Beware of Fat Free. Taking fat out of a food that normally has fat content, such as dairy, changes the natural balance of fat and carbohydrates, resulting in a shift in macronutrients that is top-heavy in carbs and stresses the metabolic system. In healthy animals, the fat is where many of the nutrients are concentrated. When fat is removed from these products, something must be added back in to make the food palatable- 100% of the time these palatable add-ins are some array of the “drop and run” list above.

⛔ Minimize fructose. Fructose is the form of sugar found in fruit. Fructose triggers energy storage as fat, stresses the liver, supports proliferation of problematic oral and digestive bacteria (leading to high decay rate, periodontal disease, leaky gut, and associated surge in allergies, asthma, autoimmune conditions, and chronic disease). AVOID fruit juice and anything with High Fructose Corn Syrup, which are both high in free fructose and thus compound these issues. Dr. Mark Hyman, MD and Dr. Richard Johnson, MD are good resources to seek out for more information.

Please note that it is very important not to drive ourselves crazy with strict adherence to this list, regardless of how important it is. In my house, we go by the 90/10 rule. We do the best we can 90% of the time, cooking at home with quality ingredients and a focus on real food as close to nature as possible. 10% of the time, we grab convenience foods on the road, we eat at a restaurant, we go out for donuts on a Saturday morning, or we make root beer floats after a good dinner. We are mindful of the guidelines we know to be true, but we’re not handcuffed to them.

tongue tie x-ray

Out with the Bad. In with the Good.

Nutrient density of our food is critical to our overall health, including the health of our teeth and their surrounding periodontal tissues (bone and gums). Everything we eat comes with an expense of digestive energy. Not everything that we eat provides the fuel of essential nutrients necessary to keep our motors running. The plot thickens when we consider the toxic synthetic additives, adjuncts, and extractive processes in modern food, and the profound state of chronic inflammation that comes from exposure to these things. A simple way to think about it: Maximize Nutrients. Minimize Toxins. Go for a balance of the macros protein, healthy fat, and fruits/vegetables- as close to their natural state as possible. Out with the bad. In with the good. 

  • Animal products. The closer the animal is raised to a natural environment, the more healthy the animal will be, the more healthy it will be for you.
    • In With the Good. Animals raised on their natural diets (grass fed and finished cattle, pasture raised chickens, pastured/heritage pigs, wild caught fish). Any supplemental feed used should be organic. Hold these standards for meat, butter, cream, whole milk, eggs, pork lard or beef tallow, bone broth. On their natural diets, the food from these animals is significantly higher in Omega 3’s, and Vitamins A, D, E, and K2! These are all critical nutrients in tooth, bone, and cardiovascular health, and Omega 3 profile plays a critical role in reducing systemic inflammation. Milk and milk products are best raw and farm fresh, when you can. See Raw Milk blog for details.
    • Out with the bad. No antibiotics. No farm raised fish. No conventional feed that has been grown with toxic pesticides/herbicides. Grain is not a natural diet- while it can make animals fatter for slaughter faster, it leads to less nutrients and more inflammatory mediators. The grain that is used to feed them has been genetically modified, sprayed with toxic Round Up, and may be a by-product of the harsh chemical processing to make soybean oil and high fructose corn syrup. 
  • Healthy Fats and Cooking Oils. Look for minimally processed unrefined.
    • In With the Good. Extra Virgin Olive Oil, Cold Pressed Avocado Oil,  Cold Pressed Coconut Oil, Grass Fed butter/ghee/cream/tallow, Pastured pork lard.
    • Out with the bad. AVOID inflammatory seed and vegetable oils! Vegetable, Canola, Corn, Soybean, Safflower, Soybean, Cottonseed, Crisco, Margarine. They are highly refined, bleached, deodorized, treated with extreme heat, and use toxic chemicals to unnaturally extract oil. These unnatural oils cause systemic inflammation with a poor Omega 3 to 6 profile, have an absence of nutrients, and are the product of toxic growing practices.

  • Organically raised fruits and vegetables, raised in naturally fertile soil, as local as possible. Consider a greens powder if your diet is lacking (I use AG1 Powder- Athletic Greens)
    • In With the Good.. As local as possible- the further it has to travel, the earlier and less nutrient rich it is harvested. The more fertile the soil, the more nutrients are passed into the food grown in it. This is not accomplished with synthetic commercial fertilizers. Adding compost and/or rotating crops along with the regenerative practice of incorporating livestock onto the farmland will accomplish this with the reward of great soil health.
    • Out With the Bad. No synthetic fertilizers or herbicides/pesticides. No GMO (genetically modified organisms)- this is code for “these crops have been sprayed with toxic ‘cides”. Some bulk farmed items, such as corn and soy, have had genetic modifications made to the plant that allows them to be resistant to things such as Glyphosate (Round Up), an extremely toxic weed killer. While this allows for Glyphosate to be sprayed straight onto the crops to kill weeds without killing crops, this is the creation of yet another frankenfood.
  • Organically raised grains and nuts/seeds, sprouted when possible. Minimally processed.
    • In With the Good. Go for whole grains when you can, such as whole wheat flour. When the wheat bran and wheat germ is included in the flour, the nutrient content remains (Vitamins B and E, antioxidants, etc). If you grind your own flour, that’s even better because nutrient content is lost over time after flour is ground. Buy organic when you can, especially wheat or oats. Get sprouted nuts/seeds/grains when you can to avoid phytic acid, which binds to and reduces absorption of iron, zinc, calcium, and other minerals. Sprouted grains/nuts are low in phytic acid.
    • Out With the Bad. White flour has had the bran and germ, and thus the nutrients, stripped away. This leaves only very simple carbohydrate that is void of nutrients, putting your body through the stress of digesting without the benefit of replenishing spent nutrients. Minimize conventionally raised (non-organic) grains  like wheat and oats, as they are sprayed with Round-Up (Glyphosate) to accelerate drying of them for more rapid processing after harvest. This is a known toxin that you want to avoid as much as possible. 
  • PARENTS! Please pack school lunches for your kids. The school system does their best with minimal funding, but that doesn’t mean that it’s best for kids’ health. I volunteered in my kids’ school lunch room a handful of years ago and I was so saddened by the lack of nutrients and the high inflammatory profile of the ultra processed foods on those lunch trays and in the condiments. 


Here are a couple of ideas to get you started with the transition from inflammatory foods to super foods- switches that we have made over the years in my house, as a family who enjoys most things that you all do, as well…

  • Produce: Grow your own garden in the summer, buy local from the Iowa Food Cooperative or Farmers Markets, always buy organic with “The Dirty Dozen”
  • Chips. We love chips in my house. Thankfully there a few brands (albeit only VERY few) that don’t use inflammatory oils. Masa brand tortilla chips are the best- organic corn, grassfed beef tallow. Siete Brand is another good one- they use Avocado oil. A couple of brands that make potato chips with Avocado, Olive, or Coconut oil (the goodies) are Siete, Boulder Canyon, and Thrive Market. ALWAYS read labels, though- Boulder Canyon and Thrive also have some chip lines with inflammatory oils.
  • French Fries. Always make these at home. In restaurants, they will always be cooked in rancid inflammatory oils. Get a mandoline slicer, a Dutch oven, and fry them on your own in grass fed beef tallow. Sprinkle on Redmond’s Real Salt. Enjoy. They are delicious.
  • Oatmeal. Always by organic oats. Remember that conventional oats are sprayed with Round Up to dry for harvest. The One Degree brand offers great organic sprouted oats. Even better, plan ahead and soak them overnight in Kefir to break down the grains for better digestion.
  • Bread. Make your own sourdough. Fermentation prior to baking allows the natural yeast in the sourdough starter to break down and begin to digest the grain- making it more tolerable and better digestible for we, the people. I had been wanting to venture into the world of sourdough for many years due to its many health benefits, but struggled to find the time or the patience. Thankfully I discovered Anja at Our Gabled Home, with her very hassle free old German take on sourdough. I finally made my own starter and I’ve been baking my own bread, pizza crust, crackers, pancakes, everything since then. Click this link to get started with some of her content. I also purchased a Mockmill grinder and grind my own Einkorn wheat berries (Einkorn is the original unhybridized form of wheat, much lower in gluten and easier to tolerate). I get my organic Einkorn wheat berries shipped from Breadtopia out of Fairfield, IA.
  • Meat. Find a local farmer, if you can, who is raising animals on natural diets, no conventional feed. There are also plenty of places that you can order from quality farms, such as 99 Counties, Seven Sons, White Oaks pastures, etc. Stay away from conventional meat as much as you can- stressed animals, antibiotics, growth hormones, unnatural cheap feed, poor living conditions- this does not make for healthy and nutrient dense food.
  • Dairy. Find a local farmer and buy farm fresh raw milk, if you can. Remember, the fat content is where the nutrients lie. ((Also be aware that, with conventionally raised animals, the fat content is also where most of the exposed toxins are stored)). 
  • Soda and Fruit Juice and Sports Drinks. Make this an almost never. Make anything with high fructose corn syrup an ABSOLUTE never. Fruit juice is only the worst part of the fruit for you- the high level of natural fructose that gives fruit its sweetness. I can’t say this enough, so I’m going to say it again. The fructose form of sugar is terrible for your body in all of the ways- it triggers your body to store energy as fat (–> obesity and metabolic disease), it is very fast/easy/rapidly digestible for the bad bacteria in your mouth and your gut (–> high dental decay, leaky gut associated increase in allergies and chronic illness), and it is very hard on your liver (–> fatty liver).  The occasional times that we make root beer floats in my house, we use the Whole Foods 365 brand of root beer, as it’s the one that I’ve found that does not use high fructose corn syrup. We also have a few flavored San Pellegrino sparkling Italian sodas in the fridge (no HFCS) for the kids to have an occasional treat. Poppi prebiotic soda is another brand that we will get occasionally. Body Armour is a sports drink with a better ingredient profile than Gatorade, etc. The kids only have this occasionally when on the way to athletic training, or in the summer when outside playing hard and need quick energy and electrolytes- not something to be had if just sitting around the house. I only very rarely buy orange juice, maybe 4 times a year. When I do, it’s Uncle Matt’s Organic and full of pulp, and we limit ourselves to a very small juice glass of it with breakfast. Occasionally, we will squeeze our own orange juice- that’s a great activity for anyone to see how many pieces of fruit it takes to make just a small amount of juice. Stay away from any other juices. Apple juice has about the worst fructose profile of any of the fruit juices. Drop and run.
  • Snacks. Almost all that you’ll find on the grocery store shelves are chock full of inflammatory instigators. Here’s what I have in my pantry right now, for our quick grabs of convenience when we need it. Chomps Grassfed Beef Sticks. Lara Bar peanut butter and chocolate chip. Tropical Fields Organic crispy Coconut Rolls. Pure Organic layered fruit bars. Lark Ellen Farms sprouted trail mix. Alter Eco no added sugar cashew butter organic granola.

A Quick Dive into History and the Modern Food System

Nearly a century ago, Dr. Weston A. Price traveled the world to find answers to the profound deterioration in the dental health and jaw/facial development of his patients. Crowded teeth in malformed dental arches and rampant decay were overwhelming his dental practice. He traveled to remote civilizations to observe generations of people still eating their traditional diets, as well as generations being raised on “modern” industrial diets following the introduction of trade with the developed world. What he found was consistent from Alaska to New Zealand to Africa. People raised on their natural diets of unprocessed foods coming straight from nature had zero tooth decay and beautifully developed faces with perfectly aligned rows of teeth. Those in the first generation of trade with industrialized countries, whose natural diets were replaced with processed white flour convenience foods, showed an immediate and dramatic change to rampant tooth decay and poorly formed lower faces and jaws with severely crowded teeth. 

It has only gotten worse since then. Genetic modification of crops and a toxic soup of chemical ‘cides that obliterate the biodiversity of the soil is now commonplace in an effort to grow more food faster. Cheap and ultra processed inflammatory seed oils and high fructose corn syrup from these harsh growing practices allow industry to produce crap foods in bulk in the cheapest way possible. An explosion of unnatural ingredients has increased the shelf life of ultra processed foods, nevertheless turning them into frankenfood, leaving the majority of food on grocery and convenience store shelves void of nutrients and chock full of inflammatory ingredients. 

I’m a big “why” person. Knowing just how devastating the changes to our food system have been for our health, I had to understand how and why the powers that be would let this happen. One way is to follow the money…corporate industrial giants in big ag and big food promote their products and practices at all costs, putting a lot of money into “science” that will show their desired outcome and into government agencies that will regulate use of their goods. It is very important to understand, however, that most of the people working in these companies and farmers growing with these practices are not driven by greed or ill will, but rather are good people believing that they are doing the right thing to produce food more efficiently by following the government regulations with the help of government subsidies (all paid off by industry to protect their interests). Even many of the heads of these industrial giants and government agencies likely have themselves convinced that they are doing what they’re doing for the greater good. It’s human nature to justify whatever position one must defend. This misguided thought leads to realities such as sponsoring a scientific study with flawed methods and manipulated data to support an idea as contradictory as Round Up being nontoxic “for the greater good” of the established food system. The real world evidence of Round Up’s toxic effects on humans and the environment is insurmountable and inarguable, yet contrary science can still be bought and paid for. In their minds, these agencies have convinced themselves that they are solving a problem, all the while they have failed to consider any of the profound collateral damage that comes with their idea of the solution.

I’ll close with a couple of seed oil examples of how industry controls the food system, with motives for fast, bulk, cheap production at the expense of health. These seeds don’t readily give up oil, so they must be processed with high heat, high pressure and toxic petroleum solvents to extract oil. The problem with this extraction is that these oils are highly unstable under heat, light, and pressure, which heavily oxidize the polyunsaturates. This oxidation increases free radicals, thus inflammation, in your body. These oils must also be bleached and deodorized to be able to fool someone into ingesting them willingly. Cheap production. Bulk production. At the cost of our health. 

  • Canola Oil from seeds of the Rape plant. The name alone is our first indicator 😉 Rapeseed oil was initially used during WW2 as engine oil for naval ships, so investment in production skyrocketed during that time. After the war, demand for rapeseed plummeted, but the investment had already been made in bulk production. In modern industrial fashion, this now waste crop had to be turned into something “useful” and profitable again. Motor oil rapeseed was very high in toxic erucic acid, so inedible. The giant rapeseed agricultural trend lived on when the rape plant was hybridized for low erucic acid to make it edible. Bathed in toxic RoundUp during growth, harsh extraction process, high inflammatory status, poor omega fat profile, but lining the shelves of grocery stores everywhere with an industry paid promotion of “heart healthy” that is not backed up by any unbiased science. Yikes. 
  • Soybean Oil. Genetically modified to tolerate baths in toxic RoundUp (Glyphosate). Harsh extraction with high heat, toxic chemical hexanes, bleached, deodorized. Then the remaining soybean meal is put into feed for conventionally raised livestock- it’s hard to run away from this one! Sponsored by Big Ag because of cheap and efficient bulk growth, subsidized by government thanks to Big Ag lobbyists, feeding chronic inflammation and disease. Same old story.
  • Cottonseed Oil. Industrial waste product with a newfound dumping spot in the human diet. Started as a toxic, yellow, stinky compound that was a waste product of cotton production and piled outside of cotton mills which ended up killing wild animals and horses that ate it. Then made “useful” by industry with extreme processing measures to refine, bleach, deodorize into a form that a trusting human would ingest. 

Let’s close with the most important general concept to use when choosing what to put in your mouth and your kids’ mouths: WHATEVER YOU EAT, BE SURE THAT IT IS AS CLOSE TO HOW YOU WOULD FIND IT IN NATURE AS POSSIBLE!



~Dr. Mindy

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