March is National Nutrition Month and today’s nutritional approaches to oral health go beyond “don’t eat sugar.”
Ongoing research indicates that antioxidants and other nutrients found in fruits, vegetables, legumes and nuts may strengthen immunity and improve the body’s ability to fight bacteria and inflammation, all of which can help protect the teeth and gums.
And some foods and dietary habits even have distinct effects on the mouth’s ability to handle cavity-causing bacteria attacks.
- Cheese unleashes a burst of calcium that mixes with plaque and sticks to the teeth, protecting them from the acid that causes decay and helping to rebuild tooth enamel on the spot.
- Crisp fruits and raw vegetables, like apples, carrots and celery, help clean plaque from teeth and freshen breath.
- Antioxidant vitamins, such as vitamin C, and other nutrients from fruits and vegetables help protect gums and other tissues from cell damage and bacterial infection.
- 4. Folic acid promotes a healthy mouth and supports cell growth throughout the entire body. This member of the B vitamin family is found in green leafy vegetables and brewer’s yeast.
- Green Tea – Polyphenols have been known to reduce bacteria and toxic products of bacteria in the mouth. Tea also tends to be rich in fluoride, possibly the most well-known tooth strengthener.
- Food rich in Omega-3 fatty acids (salmon, sardine, shrimp, soybean, flax seed, walnut) Omega-3 fatty acid are excellent choice against inflammation and gum diseases.
- Cranberries – Cranberries contain polyphenols (just as tea does), which may keep plaque from sticking to teeth, thus lowering the risk of cavities, according to a study published in the journal Caries Research. A caveat: Because the fruit is so tart, many cranberry products have added sugar, which may affect any potential benefits for teeth, so make eat raw unsweetened cranberries or even blend frozen unsweetened cranberries into a smoothie.
- Dark Chocolate – The compound CBH, a white crystalline powder whose chemical makeup is similar to caffeine, helps harden tooth enamel, making users less susceptible to tooth decay. Eating 3-4 oz of chocolate a day is a great way to take advantage of this wonder compound and lower your chance of getting cavities.
Finally, limit added sugars from both foods and beverages. This includes soda, fruit juice, energy drinks, candies, etc. Energy drinks are particularly damaging as they combine a high sugar load with an incredibly acidic pH.
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