30% of Human Genome is Activated by Gingivitis
Byron J. Richards, Board Certified Clinical Nutritionist
In another blow to the reductionist logic of Western Medicine it appears that an ongoing problem in your mouth may cause multiple health problems all over your body. Researchers have found that almost 1/3 of the genes in your body are expressed differently when you have the rather common problem of swollen, easily-bleeding gums and plaque accumulation known as gingivitis1.
It makes sense that your body would have a strategy to deal with any acute infection. This would include an inflammatory immune response, a ramping up of natural defenses (such as antioxidant enzymes), accelerated tissue repair, metabolic genes, etc. All of these gene functions are survival in nature and work toward the goal of bringing quick resolution to a problem. However, what happens to these genes and your health when the problem is low-grade and ongoing?
“The study’s findings demonstrate that clinical symptoms of gingivitis reflect complicated changes in cellular and molecular processes within the body,” said Steven Offenbacher, D.D.S., Ph.D., the study’s lead author. “Understanding the thousands of individual genes and multiple systems involved in gingivitis will help explain exactly what is occurring in a person’s body at the onset of the disease and how it relates to their overall health.”
Gingivitis is reflective of a problem known as biofilm formation, meaning that germs have formed gangs and are highly resistant to your immune system. Biofilms are also formed in your sinuses and digestive tract, and can be bacterial and/or fungal in nature (such as a Candida albicans biofilm). Biofilms are a significant health challenge.
The fact that so many genes are expressed in an attempt to deal with a biofilm is startling. Since a large number of these genes are immune-related and inflammatory, and since the common thread of all diseases of aging is a progressive burden of immune-related inflammation, the implications of this finding to human health are significant.
And not to rain on anyone’s holiday parade, but the excess consumption of sugar during the holidays is a primary time when biofilms go wild. And once they ramp up to a new level of activation it can take months to get them back under control (not to mention the 10 or 15 pounds that often comes with them).
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