As a reminder to avoid spreading germs, hand-washing signs appear in restrooms and hospitals. At the entrance to super markets, customers have access to towelettes, which they can use to disinfect handles and other areas on shopping carts. People are alerted to diseases of external origin, but just as potent and deadly are the diseases of internal origin. It is difficult, if not impossible, to find warning signs familiarizing people with the symptoms and dangers of preventable diseases initiated by chemical imbalances.
During my 40 years in the dental field and working with eating disorder patients, I have witnessed the pain and devastation caused by chemical imbalances. The human body does a remarkable job of converting raw materials, such as carbohydrates, protein and fat, into the chemicals needed to sustain life. The body has built-in processes that protect its chemical balance, also called homeostasis. Dietary deficiencies can cause the body to cannibalize itself to maintain homeostasis. For example, insufficient vitamin D causes low blood levels of calcium. When blood levels of calcium drop, it triggers a chemical process that leaches calcium from bones. Bone is then rebuilt during a process known as remodeling. Eating disorders, such as anorexia, or very low-calorie diets, trigger starvation mode. Because not enough raw materials are available to fuel the body’s needs, it feeds on its own muscle tissue for energy.
Hormonal changes as people age, slows the remodeling process in bones. Estrogen deficiency, which occurs in women after menopause, and testosterone deficiency in men, can result in the bone disease called osteoporosis. Young adults should perform weight-bearing exercises and eat balanced meals that provide adequate levels of vitamin D and calcium. By maintaining high bone density when they are young, bone loss that occurs with aging will not be severe enough to develop osteoporosis.
Hormonal imbalances during pregnancy can worsen any existing gum disease and cause a condition known as chorioamnio periodontitis. This condition can result in complications like low birth weight in infants. Scheduling regular appointments for examinations and cleanings can prevent, or detect and eliminate this problem.
Vitamin and Mineral Deficiencies
Magnesium deficiency is rare, but can occur as the result of gastrointestinal diseases, stress and aging, which prevent adequate absorption of the mineral. Insufficient magnesium levels can cause plaque buildup in arterial walls, which leads to coronary heart disease. Vitamin A deficiency can lead to Nyctalopia, a disease that causes night blindness. Inadequate intake of vitamin B12 contributes to pernicious anemia, which occurs when not enough red blood cells are produced. Deficiencies in vitamins C, B3 and B12, iron and folic acid are contributing factors in aphthous stomatitis – painful inflammation and ulcers that develop in the mouth.
If you now any symptoms of the above diseases, do not self-medicate. Consult your physician or dentist immediately.
Jane Higdon, Ph.D., “Preventing Osteoporosis Through Diet and Lifestyle”
O. Huck et al, “Relationship Between Periodontal Diseases and Preterm Birth: Recent Epidemiological and Biological Data” Journal of Pregnancy
University of Maryland Medical Center, “Magnesium”
Ilia Volkov, M.D. et al, “Case Report: Recurrent Aphthous Stomatitis Responds to Vitamin B12 Treatment” Canadian Family Physician