Did I Heal My Cavities With Ice Cream?

July 28, 2011: I sat in front of a monitor as the dentist showed me two dental cavities. They were in my wisdom teeth. On the screen I could clearly see each cavity.

April 23, 2015: A new dentist walked me through my x-rays. I asked him to focus on my wisdom teeth and tell me what he thought. On the monitor he brought up my wisdom teeth and told me they looked perfect. No cavities.

I never got those cavities filled. They healed.

Four years ago after the dentist told me about the two cavities, he said he could fill them or since they were wisdom teeth, he could remove them. Instead of listening to the dentist, I decided to run an experiment. I would try and heal my two cavities. Since the cavities were in my wisdom teeth, I had the freedom to fail. If the cavities got worse, I could just have the teeth removed. But I didn’t fail. The two cavities I had in 2011 are now gone.

Healing Dental Cavities

There are many blogs and YouTube videos out there that will tell you how to heal cavities. I’m not going to go there, because although I know my two cavities were healed, I do not know exactly how it happened. That would be speculation. I will say the number #1 change I made in the period between dental visits was a drastic increase in ice cream consumption. I went from having ice cream a few times a year to daily.

My first resource was Rami Nagel, author of Cure Tooth Decay: Heal and Prevent Cavities with Nutrition. He came to Seattle to speak to the local Weston A. Price Meetup group. For those unfamiliar with Weston A. Price, read my post The Endgame for Paleo is WAPF. WAPF is a branch of nutrition which picks up where Paleo leaves off. It not only focuses on quality food, but on food preparation techniques used by many traditional cultures over thousands of years.

Weston A. Price himself was a dentist who studied the dental health of many populations in the 1920s. His landmark book Nutrition and Physical Degeneration documents this journey. Even if you never read the book, just look at the pictures in the book (online). Traditional cultures had near perfect teeth and cavities were rare.

Cure Tooth Decay: Heal and Prevent Cavities with Nutrition, 2nd Edition
Cure Tooth Decay: Heal and Prevent Cavities with Nutrition, 2nd Edition by Ramiel Nagel

I took notes during Cure Tooth Decay presentation. Some ideas I walked away with:

  1. Consume foods and supplements that are high in the fat soluble vitamins (A, D, E, K). This comes from dairy, especially from grass fed sources. Supplements such as fermented cod liver oil and butter oil are recommended. Vitamin K2 is especially interesting, as it hadn’t been discovered at the time Dr. Price did his research. He theorized there was a nutrient that was important to dental health, which he referred to as Activator X. That turned out to be K2.
  2. Limit or eliminate grains. Grains by themselves aren’t necessarily bad, but we rarely use the traditional techniques of grain preparation such as soaking, sprouting and fermenting. One critique of modern grains is that because they do not use traditional preparation methods, then can have a demineralizing effect. Healing cavities begins with remineralization.
  3. Organ meats, such as beef liver, are loaded with nutrients that can assist with healing.
  4. Eat foods with saturated fat and cholesterol. Avoid industrial seed oils. This idea is gradually gaining support in the mainstream.
  5. Reduce nuts and seeds.
  6. Do not overcook your proteins.
  7. His opinion on sugar was mixed. He liked natural sources of sugar. However, since the goal is to increase fat soluble vitamins, he favors getting more calories from those fats.

This advice was easy for me to follow. I had already ditched the bread and was eating organ meats weekly at this point. I was also a big fan of dairy and had been increasing my intake fat soluble vitamins. I also started taking fermented cod liver oil.

Green Pasture's Blue Ice Royal Butter Oil / Fermented Cod Liver Oil Blend - CINNAMON GEL - 8.1 fl.oz (240ml)
Green Pasture’s Blue Ice Royal Butter Oil / Fermented Cod Liver Oil Blend – CINNAMON GEL – 8.1 fl.oz (240ml)

This supplement is expensive and I tend to only go through one jar during the Seattle winters. Most of the time I get my fat soluble vitamins from full fat dairy. Cheese, kefir and increasingly ice cream.

In 2012 I started consuming ice cream on a regular basis. You can read the genesis of that decision in the post Why Ice Cream is Better than Protein Powder. Ice cream is a full fat dairy source with fat soluble vitamins, but it also has sugar. And I’ve been told since childhood that sugar causes cavities. So I was taught to minimize sugar consumption and brush my teeth frequently.

But if there is one thing I’ve learned in the last few years about nutrition it is that sugar is no where near as bad as people claim. It is not toxic. People looking for simple narratives to explain away everything from cancer to diabetes have jumped on the sugar is evil bandwagon. It isn’t true. But I’m getting off topic here. For more information read In Defense of Sugar: The Sweet Truth about the Diet Industry’s Latest Evil by Joey Lott.

Joey Lott wrote another book last year on improving dental health while eating sugar.

How I Healed My Teeth Eating Sugar: A Guide to Improving Dental Health Naturally by Joey Lott

This book shares a lot in common with the nutritional advice I saw in presentation by Ramiel Nagel. There is some deviation on sugar and supplement advice.

Lott makes a case, for which I am sympathetic to, that metabolic health is important to dental health. If we undereat, we are undernourished. Being undernourished will make the task of healing your teeth difficult, so making an effort to increase metabolism can help the process. Lott lists out symptoms of lowered metabolism, such as reduced body temperature and sleep issues. These are topics well covered on this blog.

Going back to my story. They found the two cavities in 2011, but I hadn’t had dental X-Rays since 2008. What changed between 2008 and 2015? I ditched the grains for ice cream. So what did the ice cream provide for my dental health? An easily digestible source of fat soluble vitamins that increased my metabolism. Did the ice cream help heal my cavities? Maybe.


An n=1 Skeptic

I spent last week fixing years worth of grammar errors on this site. Over 300 posts were updated. While fixing the posts I was reacquanted with many of my old n=1 experiments. A lot of what I read made me cringe. Yeah I got a few things wrong. Many of the n=1 experiments that I thought at the time provided insight really didn’t.

When I used to engage in and hear others talk about their n=1 experiments, I thought we were on the path to optimal health. We were taking charge and seeking answers to solve health riddles. Not anymore. Today when I read the biohackers and Quantified Self movement celebrate their n=1 experiments, I am skeptical.

A lot of the n=1 movement is based on the assumption that we all are unique and what works for the majority may not work for the individual and that a well constructed test can prove that fact. But many of the experiments are using small data samples to explain contrarian findings. And those findings often can’t be repeated.

The problem with many of these n=1 tests are we don’t collect enough data and the data we do collect may not be meaningful. If it is meaningful, it might only be meaningful at that time. Unlike machines, humans change. The n=1 test I did in 2012 may have zero relevance to me in 2015. And that is assuming it ever had real insight.


I spent years testing and tracking my health. Most of the information collected was useless.


Low Food Reward: Tuna + Tomato Paste + Rice

I came up with a low food reward idea. Mix a can of tuna with a can of tomato paste and rice.

This is a true appetite crusher.


Looks more like cat food than people food.

This would be the opposite of a hyper-palatable addictive food. It has very little taste. The tuna is neutral. The tomato paste neutral. This meal doesn’t taste good. It doesn’t taste bad either. It is rather bland and boring. I’ve had this protein rice meal several times now and I am surprised just how full I get on this simple meal. It is now a staple of mine as I test food reward for myself.

The rice is optional. If you are trying to keep the carbs lower, you can remove the rice. I’ve also used Korean rice cakes in place of rice. Cold leftover rice is fine as it has more of neutral taste than fresh warm rice.

  • Tuna – The canned tuna I buy has 30 grams of protein. Protein helps suppress appetite. 140 calories.
  • Tomato Paste – Tomato paste is the espresso of tomatoes. Packed with nutrition.  138 calories.
  • Rice or Korean Rice Cakes – I have been using about 1 cup of cooked rice or the equivalent in rice cakes. 200 calories.

I’ve never had a meal of less than 500 calories suppress my appetite more than this. I’m not saying I am getting “loosen the belt buckle” full, but if I have this meal in the morning, I can go several hours without feeling hungry. Another benefit of the tuna + tomato paste combo is it requires no cooking time. Just open cans and mix. The rice is optional. Korean rice cakes cook fast, so having some around (in the freezer) is what I use when I don’t have leftover rice.

korean rice cake package

Korean rice cakes. If you live near a Korean grocery store get a few of these. They are awesome for soup too. 

My plan is to have this meal 5-7 times a week. If you try it, let me know your thoughts.


Embracing Food Reward

I mentioned at the end of the post Food Reward and Old School Bodybuilders that I would be testing the food reward theory for myself. There are several bloggers that get hung up on the definition of food reward. To me is simply that we tend to gain weight more easily on the foods that are easy to eat past satiety. Those foods tend to be processed and are often designed by food engineers. It is not a theory to explain all obesity, but one part of the puzzle.

My goal is to see if I can lose 10-15 pounds without feeling hungry. The last time I lost weight, I was stacking different strategies, including lower carbs, intermittent fasting, cold exposure and cooking more food at home. Eating foods cooked at home lowered my food reward, but how important of a factor did it play? I aim to find out.

I will not be lowering my carbs. In fact I plan to eat a lot of potatoes cooked plainly. I will also be pressuring cooking legumes. Sorry Paleo, but you are wrong about legumes (see #3). There will be no cold exposure and although I will be reducing my eating window, I do not plan to fast at the levels I did during my prior weight loss. Exercise levels will remain the same, which is two brief moderately intense machine based workouts a week plus walking.

Unlike the last time, I will be monitoring my sleep quality and body temperature. If either decline, I will add back in higher food reward items. This strategy worked for me before.

The biggest reason I am now embracing food reward is that it pretty much overlaps with so many other weight loss theories, so even if it is wrong, it won’t be too wrong. You know I like to hedge.

My Food Reward Fat Loss Plan

Here are the steps I plan to take. Some of the ideas I got from the comprehensive list on Food Reward: a Dominant Factor in Obesity, Part VII.

  1. Stop eating tortilla chips. Chips are everywhere in California. In Seattle, I was always in Vietnamese restaurants, so I never had them. Here Mexican restaurants rule. I love the chips. I love them too much. ¡No Más!
  2. Consume very few liquid calories.
  3. I do not plan to give up ice cream in Phase 1, even though it is considered high food reward. However, a few weeks ago I decided to only consume a plain vanilla ice cream. By removing the novelty and complexity of new flavors this has already helped me reduce my consumption. Phase 2 which I just began experimenting with restricts ice cream to exercise and travel days.
  4. Reduce snacking on non-exercise days.
  5. Eat more potatoes, legumes and veggies.
  6. Reduce the number of foods consumed when given many options. From the Whole Health Source article “Pick three foods, and eat nothing else.”
  7. Focus on making the most improvements on the pre-dinner meals. I eat pretty good already, so I don’t need to radically change anything. All I should have to do is make some adjustments to my pre-dinner meals.

Is there anything you would add?

Question on The Shangri-La Diet

I might also experiment with the idea of flavorless calories from the book The Shangri-La Diet.

At least an hour before one of your meals, consume unflavored sugar water and/or Extra Light Olive Oil. Both of these foods are flavorless and provide calories.

The one thing I am not clear about is if the hour before and hour after blocks are just calorie free or all flavor free. I gave my book away, so I can’t look this up. I ask this question because I have my last coffee between 2 PM and 3 PM. The coffee has no calories, but a strong flavor signal. Does anyone know if it is the absense of calories or the absence of flavor signals that makes this technique work?


Photo by Brian Hoffman


The Grand Experiment Revisited

One of the wonderful things about having a blog that goes back years is you can revisit older posts and see not only what you were up to but how you interpreted those events. With more time and knowledge, we can revisit those experiences with new analysis.

Today I am going back to 2011 to revisit what I called then The Grand Experiment.

In 2011, I announced an experiment that I had started in 2009 to get lean without breaking a sweat. Not just regular lean, but lean enough to see lower ab definition. You can read my older post to see where my mind was at that time.

I want to briefly summarize what happened.

  1. I succeeded. I was briefly able to get to Level 3 leanness (some lower ab definition) without breaking a sweat exercising.
  2. I was preparing to take my “bro shot” to declare victory. I figured I was days away from even more definition. Then the Anthony Weiner scandal hit. This was the US Congressman that was hitting on young women with interesting photos on Twitter while being married with a pregnant wife. One of the photos was his shirtless “bro shot”. Suddenly the “bro shot” went from “cool, look what I did” to “I’m a creep”. I never took the photo.
  3. For the rest of the year, I was in and out of Level 3 Leanness. Then I started to look haggard and was losing too much weight. My body temperature was low and my sleep was often poor.

What I didn’t realize at the time was that I had metabolically painted myself into a corner. Not only is losing weight metabolically stressful, but just maintaining low levels of body fat can in itself be stressful. The only path I had to improve my health was to eat more and sleep better, which I eventually did.

Today I am back down to Level 1 Leanness, but I sleep like a champion. 8 hours almost every night. No more night headaches. And my body temperature is up over a full degree to 98.3. I’m clearly in a better state than before.


What Went Wrong

I messed up. Back then like most dieters, I did not understand metabolism. The body tries to defend fat loss for its own survival. It doesn’t care about what Leanness Level you are at. You can push it and I did, which is why I now cringe when I hear people engaging in long restrictive diets. I know not only will they gain the weight back, but their metabolism will tank. They will end up with lower energy levels, poor sleep and feel worse.

Getting ripped is hard, but the real challenge would be to do it in a way that supports metabolism. What I learned is something I’ve talked about on other posts in the past few years and that is don’t stack stressors. Fasting, lifting, eat super clean, poor sleep and running on high levels of caffeine are all stressors. I did all those and then when that wasn’t enough, I started swimming in the cold Puget Sound.

Going through the comments, I posted this on June 30, 2011.

For me the point of Level 3 is to – in the words of James Brown – “hit it and quit it”. It is a goal very few men over 30 ever achieve. That is what makes it enticing. My goal all along has been to hit Level 3, take the photos and then go get some ice cream and move onto the next challenge – such as dunking a basketball. This is not a sustainability goal – like cold weather training or episodic fasting.

Oh I was so naive back then. The fact I was equating Level 3 Leanness as a challenge like dunking shows how misguided I was. Back then I viewed eating ice cream as a reward for ending a quest and not as tool for achieving it.

Body composition is more than Eat Less, Move More. It is also metabolic rate. Long term calorie restriction or expenditure can and often does reduce metabolism. I am more convinced that ever that the old school bodybuilders had it right all along. Cycling. Bulk and cut. Repeat. You need more than a tape measure. You also need a thermometer.