Friday, 13 November 2015

Eating for a healthy smile

healthy living, diet tips, fitness
Order up plenty of fresh veggies
if you want healthy teeth and gums
At this time of year, it's all too easy to give up your healthy eating habits and start on the mince pies that bit early. But it's not just your waistline you need to worry about if you miss essential nutrients and minerals in your diet - you could be damaging your teeth. Here's how to have the picture perfect smile ready for when Santa asks if you've been a good girl...

Eat your Vitamins (A, B and C)

Since Vitamin A helps immune function and cell growth, it's an essential nutrient for healthy teeth and gums, fighting off infections and aiding recovery. In fact it's the reason you'll have a healthy amount of saliva. It also contains beta-carotene, an antioxidant. Vitamin A is also critical for all the main organs, your eyesight and reproductive health, so not one to miss if you value your health!

Rather than opt for a supplement though (too much of which can cause gum problems) make sure you're eating fish, egg yolks and organ meats, like liver. You can also find Vitamin A in orange and yellow foods like carrots, mangoes and sweet potatoes, and dark leafy greens such as kale, spinach and collard greens.

healthy eating, fitness tips, diet, weight management
A chicken salad with apple, nuts, celery
and spinach ticks all the boxes
Vitamin B covers a group of eight vitamins that assist bodily functions and processes, such as energy production, stress management and the formation of red blood cells. The B vitamins can improve oral health by helping to reduce inflammation and infections, and a deficiency can cause anything from irritation inside the mouth to cracked lips. 

The B vitamins are found in poultry and meat, beans, legumes and green vegetables. You can also find B vitamins in whole-grain cereals, bread, egg yolks, peas, soybeans, sweet corn, brown rice, berries, yeast, the germ and husks of grains, nuts and cheese.

Vitamin C assists with the absorption of iron, maintains healthy connective tissues and promotes strong teeth and gum tissue. It will also repair the body and so helps prevent gum inflammation - a deficiency could even lead to scurvy (characterized by the swollen, bleeding gums of the malnourished sailers up until the 18th century)! Vitmain C (also known as ascorbic acid) is a powerful antioxidant, boost immunity and healing. 

Look for Vitamin C in citrus fruit, red and green pepper, broccoli, kiwi, cantaloupe mellon, kale and berries - and ensure you eat some everyday as it is water-soluble and is washed out of the body.

healthy eating, diet, fitness tips, weight management
Good old 'bangers & mash'
- these sausages are 95% pork

Get outside

Who doesn't love the 'sunshine' vitamin? Vitamin D is created by the body after being outside - and works to help the absorption of calcium and regulates both calcium and phosphorus in the blood stream - essential for healthy teeth and bone formation. There is some evidence that is also helps enamel remineralisation.

As well as making sure you get outside everyday, there are some food sources of Vitmain D and these include oily fish such as salmon, sardines and mackerel, eggs, Portabello mushrooms, pork, Tofu, some fortified breakfast cereals, and some powdered milk (cow's milk is England is generally not fortified with Vitamin D like it is overseas). Cod liver oil capsules are also an excellent source.

A strong base

Calcium is crucial in the development and maintenance of teeth and bones, with your jaw bone forming the foundation that houses your teeth. If you don't want wobbly teeth, you'll need to ensure you eat enough of this mineral as it is constantly circulating in small amounts through the bloodstream - and if you don't provide enough through your diet it will be leeched from your bones (yikes!). Over time, if you don't consume enough calcium you run the risk of developing osteoporosis, which can affect your teeth too.

My cheese strata had added dental oomph
with spinach, peas and peppers
Find calcium is dairy products like yogurt and cheese, and sardines, canned salmon, egg yolks, green leafy vegetables, broccoli, peas, cauliflower, cabbage, almonds, and fortified orange juice and soy milk.

Protein is also essential for strong tooth structure, mucosal/connective tissue development and your immune function. It also contains phosphorous which is a vital component in improving the strength of your teeth and jaw. both calcium and phosphorous work to protect and rebuild tooth enamel. Look for protein-rich foods like meat, poultry, fish, milk and eggs plus beans, tofu and green, leafy vegetables.

Smart snacking

Raw, crunchy fruits and vegetables are 'abrasive' because of the fibre they contain. This means that they act to clean your teeth - which is why snacking on a veg like celery is a great idea. The longer chewing times of crunchy veg also means that you produce more saliva  and massage the inside of your mouth which also ensures healthy teeth and gums. Aim to do this every day (but you're eating fresh, raw veg everyday anyway, am I right?).
diet, fitness tips, healthy eating, weight management
Snack on crunchy raw veg and keep hydrated
with water for good oral health

Drinking water also makes sure your mouth is clean - because it washes away anything that's got trapped between the teeth (where germs like to hang out and breed). If you're worried about acidic or enamel-dissolving foods like alcohol, coffee or juice damaging your teeth, rinsing with water after you've consumed them will also have the same effect.

What next?

If you've been inspired and want to learn more about how to cook your way to a healthy smile, head over to the Simplyhealth website. They have a great infographic covering six superfoods for a super smile.

Disclousre: This post is sponsored by Simplyhealth.


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