Avoid Antibiotic & Alcohol Mouth Washes

19 Apr

Our basic premise is that your body is amazing. You get a do over. It doesn’t take that long, and it isn’t that hard if you know what to do. In these notes, we give you a short course in what to do so it becomes easy for you and for you to teach others. We want you to know how much control you have over both the quality and length of your life.

  1. Q) “My husband read in one of your books—either the new YOU: Staying Young, or This Is YOUR Do-Over, we bought both, and he can’t find the reference now—that a way to prevent or reverse heart disease was to avoid antibacterial or alcohol-containing mouth washes. He started to follow that, and within 3 weeks his heart pain—angina his doc said—went away. Why did that work?” Joan, Alameda, Calif.

A: Most of us have a pretty limited view of what’s swirling around inside our bodies. We’ve got our organs, our bones, our blood and water, our chemicals, and some muscle and fat all jumbled together to form a miraculous being that has the ability to toss a ball, solve complex math equations, or do both at the same time. Essentially, we think our bodies are biologically constant. Besides what we put inside our bodies (and then, obviously, what comes out later), it might seem like we’re made with a set amount of chemicals, nerves, and gook that forever coexist in our bodies. Either we have a lot or a little of chemical A or neurotransmitter B, so to speak.

But that’s hardly the case, especially when it comes to one of the biological explanations of chest pain and aging. Over a few weeks, or even days, we can modify these precious molecules to tune up our bodies. And avoiding some things that harm us in weird ways, like avoiding antibacterial or alcohol mouth wash, is one strategy. Now before I go further on the benefits of avoiding these, let me state that these have a benefit too—so if your dentist has said you have to use one after a dental procedure or because it is the only way for you to prevent periodontal disease (flossing and seeing a dental pro every six months are two of the many others), do not drop them—talk to your dental pro first about alternatives. Now back to our story about how you can quickly change your chemicals…

Inside your body, you have a short-lived gas that tremendously affects your body’s function. This gas—called nitric oxide—has a half-life that’s just a few seconds long. Like a wind that comes in and blows away pollution, nitric oxide (NO for short) is fleeting and exhilarating. You have nitric oxide, then you don’t. (Before you start winking with sweet remembrances, nitric oxide isn’t the same thing as nitrous oxide, the laughing gas used as an anesthetic and at some parties.)

So what? We’ve all got gas from time to time.

But we’re not talking about gas that clears dinner parties; we’re talking about the kind that’s important enough to have generated a Nobel Prize in Medicine, and important enough to influence whether your hubby has a heart attack. Nitric oxide plays a fundamental role in keeping a body healthy, and the reverse is also true. In many diseases, the production of nitric oxide is impaired, and that leads to (or contributes to) cell injury or the dysfunction of organs.

Despite its short-lived existence, nitric oxide affects many organs. In the brain, NO acts as a neurotransmitter to rapidly transmit messages. Much like the way that the brain chemicals serotonin and dopamine promote don’t-worry-be-happy emotions, NO has a calming effect. Why? Nitric oxide turns on a chain reaction in our cells that allows our blood vessels to relax and dilate. Let me repeat that: nitric oxide turns on a chain reaction in our cells that allows our blood vessels to relax and dilate so more blood flows. People with atherosclerosis (clogging and hardening of the arteries) commonly don’t make enough nitric oxide to keep their arteries open. The lack of NO helps to explain the detrimental effects we feel during times of high stress as well as periods of low sleep. The common angina treatment nitroglycerine increases NO, dilating blood vessels and thus decreasing heart pain.

Now that is the preamble to the real answer to your question, Joan (hope the preamble wasn’t too long):

  • You want NO in your blood vessels, especially in your heart’s arteries.
  • You (and your hubby) make less in your cells as you get older, so you need to get the precursors from foods.
  • Leafy greens & beets have nitrates that after you eat and swallow, continue on to your intestines, and then go into your blood. These nitrates then accumulate in your salivary glands and then are converted into nitrite by the bacteria in your mouth. (I know this sounds weird, but it happens.)
  • That nitrite is absorbed & becomes NO in your blood vessels.
  • The key to the process are those bacteria in your mouth that convert nitrates to nitrities.
  • People who use antibacterial or alcohol mouth wash do not (in the few studies that have been done) have enough of those bacteria for this process to work as described (at least not as well).

So the action step in that book was: Eat Leafy Greens & Beets, & Avoid Antibiotic & Alcohol Mouth Wash.

We are glad you hubby did follow that Action Step, and that you and he think it contributed to his angina (heart pain) going away. Maybe it did. As he knows, the This Is YOUR Do-Over book has many other Action Steps to prevent and reverse many chronic diseases including heart disease, stroke, and many forms of cancer — including breast, colon, and prostate cancers. And while he is pain free, ask him which of the other Action Steps he is doing so he can reverse the heart disease and pull the fatty plaques out as described in that book, so he and you may never have to worry about heart disease or stroke.

Thanks for reading. Feel free to send questions—to youdocs@gmail.com, and some of them we may know enough to answer (we’ll try to get answers for you if we do not know).

Young Dr Mike Roizen (aka, The Enforcer) 

NOTE: You should NOT take this as medical advice. This article is of the opinion of its author. Before you do anything, please consult with your doctor.

You can follow Dr Roizen on twitter @YoungDrMike (and get updates on the latest and most important medical stories of the week). The YOU docs have tow newly revised books: The patron saint “book” of this column YOU Staying Young—revised and YOU: The Owner’s Manual…revised —yes a revision of the book that started Dr Oz to being Dr Oz. These makes great gifts—so do YOU: ON a Diet and YOU: The Owner’s Manual for teens. And, the new book by Dr Mike Roizen: This is YOUR Do-Over

Michael F. Roizen, M.D., is chief wellness officer and chair of the Wellness Institute at the Cleveland Clinic. His radio show streams live on http://www.radioMD.com Saturdays from 5-7 p.m. He is the co-author of 4 #1 NY Times Best Sellers including: YOU Staying Young.

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