A perfect smile doesn’t just fall on your lap. Ok, so some people are born lucky. But even so, maintaining it so that it stays perfect takes effort. Building strong teeth and healthy gums is a serious job for our body and nutrients like vitamins and minerals are its materials to do it efficiently. The right food can make or break that first date or job interview. What goes into your mouth will eventually show up in your appearance. We have listed down the foods that should be on your list on your next trip to the grocery.
- Dairy Products – Load up on milk, yogurt, and cheese. Dairy products contain calcium that builds our bones and teeth. They also contain Vitamin D and phosphorous that helps absorb calcium. Aside from that, they neutralize the acids in our mouth, and chewing cheese stimulates salivation that washes away the bacteria in our mouth. The recommended daily milk intake is 2 to 4 glasses per day. However, some people may not be able to tolerate milk because of lactose intolerance. Soy or almond milk are good alternatives for them.
- Lean meats – Lean beef, pork, and chicken are rich in proteins that are essential for gum health. Repair of tissues like muscle, skin, and mucus membranes use amino acids, which are the building blocks of proteins. A deficiency in protein intake will lead to gum health that easily bleeds and often gets infected.
- Green, leafy vegetables –Leafy greens like kale, cabbage, spinach, and lettuce are rich in folic acid and vitamin C. These vitamins help protect the gums by reducing inflammation and boosting immunity. Inflamed gums bleed easily and are favorite targets of bacteria that cause tooth decay.
- Nuts and grains – Since you will be chewing them longer, they also stimulate salivation that protects your teeth from harmful bacteria. But more than that, nuts contain proteins, calcium, magnesium, zinc, and vitamins B1, B2, B3, and E – all of which are major contributors to teeth formation and gum repair.
- Tea – Green tea, in particular, are beneficial to your oral health. They lower the acidity of the saliva and reduce oral bacteria. In addition, they contain antioxidants that strengthen the immune system.
- Fruits and crunchy vegetables – Like the leafy greens, they contain vitamins that help immunity and gum resilience. The fiber in them also acts as a natural floss that cleans and polishes the teeth.
The Mediterranean Diet
All the foods mentioned above are major components of the Mediterranean Diet. This diet has gained popularity as it became officially endorsed by medical societies to combat chronic diseases such as hypertension and diabetes. It is the traditional diet of countries bordering the Mediterranean Sea and is famous for being high in unsaturated fats like olive oil, vegetables, fruits, legumes, nuts, fish, and lean meat. In a nutshell, this diet simulates how our ancestors ate – rich in whole food and minimally processed food if any. This is essentially a case of going back to basics. This diet is ideal and provides a good balance of healthy eating and palatability. While it is emphasized mainly for heart health, it has tremendous effects on oral health as well. The human body, after all, is not a separate organ system but an interconnected whole. What is good for one organ will most of the time be good for the entire body.
The age-old adage “You are what you eat” rings true now more than ever. With a myriad of unhealthy and convenient options bombarding us, eating healthy can be a real struggle. Ultimately, it comes down to a committed decision to be healthy and being mindful of what we put inside our mouths. Go on and take baby steps to healthy eating that we know you have always wanted to do but keep on pushing back.