Many of us are aware that healthy eating has benefits for our body and mind, but have you ever stopped to think about how your diet impacts your teeth and gums? The foods you eat have a significant impact on your oral and general health; here are 9 ways to eat healthily without harming your teeth, as recommended by The Frederick Dental Clinic:
1. Read food labels: even some of the most innocent looking foods can harbour hidden sugars and additives, so always take time to read labels and pay attention to traffic light labelling, which is designed to make it easier to see what exactly is inside what you’re eating or drinking. Watch out for foods that have red or amber ratings for sugars and try to keep within your recommended daily sugar intake.
2. Cut out snacking: the frequency of eating is often as important as the types of food you eat when it comes to oral health and this is because acids released by bacteria attack and weaken the enamel when you eat. If you eat throughout the day, this means that the enamel never has chance to recover and vastly increases the risk of erosion, which contributes to higher risks of damage and decay. Cutting out snacking gives your teeth time to remineralise and will also help with weight loss if you are trying to reach a healthy BMI (body mass index).
3. Eat raw vegetables: raw vegetables are packed with essential nutrients and vitamins, but they also have additional benefits for your teeth and gums. Chewing on raw vegetables stimulates saliva production, which rinses the mouth and helps to wash away food debris and neutralise acids in the mouth.
4. Chew sugar-free gum after eating: chewing sugar-free gum after eating helps to prevent bad breath and it also increases saliva production, which moistens the mouth, neutralizes acids and dislodges trapped bits of food from the surfaces of the teeth and the gum line.
5. Swap fizzy pop and fruit juice for water and milk: fruit juice is often branded as a healthy alternative to pop, but it can actually be as harmful for oral health; juices are often laden with sugar and they also have a low pH, which contributes to acid erosion. Instead of drinking fizzy drinks, sugary cordial and acidic juices, go for water and milk; water is completely sugar-free and it prevents dehydration and milk is rich in calcium.
6. Make your own fruit smoothies: smoothies can be a really healthy way of boosting your fruit and vegetable intake; however, if you buy ready-made smoothies from cafes or supermarkets, you may find that they contain a huge amount of added sugar to make them taste great. It’s much better to make your own smoothies at home using a blender, as you can control what goes in it and regulate your sugar intake. Popular fruit smoothies include strawberry and banana, orange and mango and raspberry and blueberry.
7. Cook at home: homemade food is often much healthier than fast food and ready-made meals, as you have complete control of the sugar, oil and salt content. If you struggle for time when you get home from work or you have a very busy schedule, look out for simple, quick recipes or cater in bulk and freeze what you don’t use, so that you have a healthy dish ready and waiting for you when you get in.
8. Keep a food diary: nowadays, you can keep track of your diet and activity levels by using websites and apps and this is a really great way of checking that you’re including the right foods in your diet and making sure you’re not missing out on important food groups or nutrients. Log your daily diet and check the nutrition to see how you’re doing in comparison to your recommended daily intake of different vitamins, carbohydrates, fats and proteins and to see how your calorie intake fits with the RDA for your age, gender, height and weight.
9. Eat fruit at mealtimes: fruit is an essential part of the diet, but it does contain natural sugars and therefore it’s best to eat it before or after a meal, rather than as a snack; this will help to reduce the number of acid attacks the teeth have to resist.