Periodontist: remove plaque by brushing, toothpaste doesn’t help – only adds sweetener

The more I research toothpaste the scarier it becomes. Not only does it contain sweetener and chemicals, but it may not even help our teeth:

As a Periodontist, I get asked about recommendations for toothpaste all the time. What most people don’t know is that plaque is removed by the mechanical action of the toothbrush bristles against the teeth and gum whether toothpaste is used or not. Much to the toothpaste manufacturers chagrin they have never been able to prove that using toothpaste increases plaque removal, it simply makes for a better experience by adding some flavor, thus the title.

Which is Toothpaste is just a spoon full of sugar.

If we could only get more dentists and periodontists to go on record and offer support for alternatives, like this mom received when she took her family off toothpaste.


Continue reading Periodontist: remove plaque by brushing, toothpaste doesn’t help – only adds sweetener

Jacques Pépin crêpes – simple ones in seconds, plus an orange soufflé crêpe

My favorite chef is at it again, this time showing us how easy crêpes are to make. Simple ingredients and in a few minutes you have a great dessert or lunch snack.



Transcript of the recipe:

  • Melt some butter in a skillet.
  • While it’s melting, combine flour, two eggs, a few dashes of sugar, dash a salt, and a quarter of a cup of milk
  • Whisk until smooth and thick. Then add enough milk to make a thin batter. Add the melted butter.
  • In the same buttery skillet, ladle in some of the batter. Quickly turn the skillet to coat the pan with the batter.
  • Cook for about 1-minute, at least, on one side. When you see it is golden, flip it over to cook for a little bit longer. Remove from pan and voilà.


This is only the first of four recipes on the show. Keep watching to see them make Orange Soufflé CrêpesBaked Alaska, and Apricot and Pistachio Soufflé.

It’s amazing what you can do with egg whites!

Searching for the perfect Panna Cotta dessert recipe

I’ve spent a good chunk of the last two weeks surrounded by spreadsheets, crumpled paper packets, cartons of dairy products and dirty ramekins. Josef Centeno has a lot to answer for.

A couple of weeks ago I stopped in at his Bäco Mercat restaurant downtown for a lunch that ended with one of the best panna cottas I’ve ever had. You know what I mean: Delicately sweet, it was like a dream of cream held together by faith and just a little bit of gelatin.

It struck me — how long had it been since I’d had panna cotta? A few years ago you couldn’t go anywhere without seeing it. Then just as suddenly it went away. It makes no sense. A good panna cotta is as good as dessert gets. Vowing I would never again leave my panna cotta cravings to the whims of restaurant fashion, I determined to master the dish.

How hard could that be?


…it turns out pretty hard, here’s the full story, and scroll to the last paragraphs for the perfected recipe:

Cracking the code of panna cotta

Continue reading Searching for the perfect Panna Cotta dessert recipe

Frozen Yogurt: how healthy is it?

The frozen yogurt craze is upon us and competing with all those cupcake shops (see Paris Hilton). While most stores are serving up liquid sugar a few of them are differentiating by promoting their health value. Things like calcium, vitamin C, and the chemistry sounding ‘live and active cultures’, also known as probiotic.

“At Red Mango, we know a healthy lifestyle and a healthy diet go hand in hand. That’s why we’re proud to tell you about all the good things we’re made of. Starting with the most important part of any self-respecting yogurt: live and active cultures.”

While I do enjoy Red Mango as my favorite yogurt joint, I couldn’t take their bold claim on face value. A little research reveals a strange list of health benefits. Here is what the live and active cultures may help:

  • Treat diarrhea
  • Prevent and treat vaginal yeast infections and urinary tract infections
  • Treat irritable bowel syndrome
  • Reduce bladder cancer recurrence
  • Speed treatment of certain intestinal infections
  • Prevent and treat eczema in children
  • Prevent or reduce the severity of colds and flu

Much of this is based on a growing number of studies that support these claims, though, there are many more that prove nothing. I was also surprised by the amount of studies trying to prove basic things like, can bacteria survive the stomach.

When it comes to the more important health claims like:

  • Lowering cholesterol
  • Lowering blood pressure
  • Preventing cavities
  • Strengthening the immune system

The evidence is much more sparse. This New York Times has an article looking into the health claims of probiotics and WebMD has one discussing a lawsuit involving false health claims by Dannon.

It is interesting to note that all yogurt has live and active cultures at some point. Most are killed in the creation of the consumer product, either through warming or just plain not caring if they survive. The companies making the claim about live and active are the ones pioneering methods that allow them to survive freezing, shipping, and all that.

Next, is the nutritional elements of FroYo, which include varying amounts of:

  • Protein
  • Fat
  • Calcium
  • Riboflavin
  • Vitamins C, B6, &  B12

The amount of each depends on the original quality of the milk used and the amount of sugar added. Per serving, frozen yogurt contains as much sugar, or more, as a can of soda. You can bet that a lot of the health benefits are wiped away with too much sugar, though I was not able to find a study proving that.

Sugar loaded frozen yogurt

Here is the nutritional information for the original flavor from my two favorite companies, RedMango and PinkBerry:

Click to view full size.

Conclusion, if you take away the spoonfuls of sugar then frozen yogurt appears to confer several benefits. This includes a grouping of vitamins and calcium, both of which are often lacking in our diet. The extra intestinal benefits also show promise, especially if you are having trouble staying regular.

The quality of the ingredients is the dark horse. It is easy to compare general research studies and nutritional information, but without knowing a company’s commitment to quality we are rolling the dice. The profit margins in this business are tough and many companies may be buying the cheapest milk they can find and then adding in sugar to cover the difference.

So far RedMango is the only company marketing themselves with a claim in this general direction, “all natural”, but that is still a far cry from local, humane, and antibiotic-free.

In the end, it may just be best to make your own frozen yogurt with quality ingredients and an ice cream maker, like the picture below.

[photos: pressroom-paris hilton // boingr-swirl //]

How food coma overcomes exercising

Let’s pretend that you’re an alien coming to Earth for the first time. You have no existing knowledge of humans and someone describes this to you:

The human ingests an item that inhibits their ability to think or move. Essentially their brain and body is in a weakened state. This state lasts for around an hour.

Would you think that I am describing poison?

It does seem that way, but what I am actually describing is the common American lunch (and dinner). Somehow we have developed a culture of acceptance for this and we call it, food coma.

This phenomenon is now a three times daily occurrence and spoken of with pride, like on Thanksgiving Day we all look forward to it.

A quick Google Timeline search shows that the phrase is barely mentioned in texts until 1995, after which it explodes in print. A modern phenomenon.

Which helps for me when studying our obesity epidemic. Most of us believe that a major part of the problem is our lazy new digital culture. Sometime in the last 50 years we lost our outdoor spirit and replaced it with a lazy indoor video game, laptop habit.

But, would you still believe that if you thought about food coma as poison?

Think about it. Food is supposed to give you energy and make you smarter, stronger, healthier. It provides us with essential fats, minerals, vitamins, carbs, proteins.

Instead, many of our meals give us food coma which makes us tired, stupid, and lazy.

So there you have it.

Eat one type of meal (or over eat) and you spend the next hour in a dumb, lazy stupor. Eat another type of meal and you are full of energy, most likely participating in some active endeavor.

I have tested this on my own family. For one Thanksgiving meal I cooked using only high quality ingredients in proper portions. This included an appetizer, full meal, and dessert.

I watched in amazement as not one person retired to the couch for the NFL game on TV, which was our usual routine.

My parents went for a bike ride. My brothers walked around the whole house talking. Even my 80+ year old Grandpa went out inspecting our backyard garden.

One experiment, but I would say it’s common sense.

Eat right and three times a day you will be given a boost of energy which compels you to be more active. It will also improve your daily health, reduce your calorie intake, and reduce your risk for serious chronic conditions.

Eat poorly and your come under a food coma.

In the journal, Scientific American, Paul Li, a professor of Cognitive Science at Berkeley, states:

“(food coma) can strike anyone who pigs out on foods loaded with carbohydrates, fats or sugars.”

To which I say that everything sold in supermarkets is loaded with all three. Usually in improper portions so it can be labelled “low-fat”, “low calorie”, or “high in protein”.

Further, Professor Li’s states that the body’s response to this is:

“As food breaks down into glucose—the simplest form of sugar, which the body uses for fuel—you will experience a surge in blood sugar. To ­counter this spike, your body releases the hormone insulin.”

Which reminds me of the increase in diabetes we are experiencing in this country. Now, this is just an assumption since I am not a researcher or doctor, but one can easily imagine that a three times daily surge in insulin could cause lasting problems.

Now what do you think?

In my last post, Why nobody knows how to prevent obesity, I argued that we are eating the wrong type of food. This is happening because everything sold in grocery stores is bad for us. Grocery stores are the problem.

To which many folks replied that exercise and lifestyle is just as important. That we need all three (good food, exercise, and healthy lifestyles) in order to curb the obesity epidemic.

To which I reply and still stand by, it’s all about the food. That is the foundation of our existence and without it we just cannot function.