One of the things you should do to maintain your oral – and overall- health is to eat well. The difficulty is, nobody really knows what eating well means because each of us has different nutritional needs and eating well to one person could mean eating poorly to another. However, eating well should mean eating in moderation, both in the quantity and quality of the foods we eat. It means reading the nutritional labels describing the contents of what’s in the food you purchase.
If there’s something that you don’t know or recognize in your food, then it’s probably best not to buy it. Many prepackaged foods have fillers and dyes to make them feel good or look good. The food and drug administration doesn’t do long term testing of these products. Instead, they only ask the manufacturers to prove that the products are digestible. A good example of a filler in foods is propylene glycol. It’s a major ingredient of antifreeze- not great for your mouth or your overall well being.
One of the real misleading misconceptions is that if a food is labeled as “diet” or “light” that it means it is healthy. The marketers (the people who make up the ads that entice us to buy products) have done a superb job of convincing the public that the word “diet” on a food label implies health for you, when in reality it just means less calories, but not necessarily better for you nutritionally. Just eat less of the good stuff. Another example is diet colas versus regular colas. They both contain food coloring, acid, and secret ingredients- terrible for your teeth and terrible for your bones as well.
When you have infection, pus, and or bleeding in your gums, your body is trying to heal, and the healing comes from within our bodies. A medical professional only aids the body in doing what it does internally for healing. Exercise and a healthy diet play crucial roles in your body’s daily functions, including infection control and self repair. Your diet can certainly play a role in your overall dental health, and according to a study done by the UCLA Health System, the top 10 foods to live a longer, healthier life are:
- packed with nutrients such as fiber, riboflavin, magnesium, iron, and calcium.
- one serving provides half of your body’s Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA) of vitamin E
- great source of pectin, a soluble fiber that helps lower cholesterol and glucose levels
- lots of vitamin C- acts as antioxidant to protect your body’s cells from damage
- helps form the connective tissue collagen
- keeps capillaries and blood vessels healthy
- aids in iron absorption
- great source of potassium, phytonutrients
- full of resistance starch, which helps you feel full, aids digestion, and promotes GI health
- source of phytonutrients which may prevent urinary tract infections
- may improve short-term memory and promote healthy aging
- low calorie source of fiber and vitamin C
- source of calcium, potassium, folate, and fiber
- vitamins A and C
- may prevent heart disease, diabetes, and some cancers
- good source of iron magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, copper, and thiamin
- excellent low-fat, low calorie fiber source
- betacyanin gives beets their rich, purple-crimson color and is a powerful cancer fighting agent
- source of B vitamin folate, maganese, dietary fiber, vitamin C, magnesium, iron, copper, and potassium
- great source of vitamins A & C, folate, riboflavin, calcium, iron, and magnesium
- may help boost immune system and keep hair and skin healthy
- orange-yellow color due to antioxidant beta carotene
- source of fiber, vitamins B6, C, and E, folate, potassium
- fat-free, low cal
- part of the seed responsible for development and growth of new plant sprouts
- highly concentrated source of nutrients including niacin, thiamin, riboflavin, vitamin E, folate, magnesium, phosphate, potassium, iron, and zinc
It is recommended to look for fresh, and if possible, organic versions of these foods to avoid problems with pesticides and additives. However, if something is out of season, frozen fruits and vegetables are a great way to eat healthy all year long. So the take home message here: read the labels (before you buy), eat the good stuff (but only half as much- share the rest with a loved one), and drink lots of good water. You will notice an improvement in your dental health, as well as the health of your entire body.
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