Whole, nourishing foods are the foundation of a healthy body. The foods we eat literally make up the building blocks of who we are, from the inside out. The old saying “we are what we eat” really rings true!
Diet has such a huge impact on the health of every part of our body, and that includes our gums and teeth.
As I mentioned in part one, the key to a well-rounded oral health routine consists of a nutrient-rich diet, healing herbs, supportive supplements, healthy lifestyle practices, and natural external cleaning.
If you haven’t read part one, check it out here where it covers oral hygiene self-care practices and products to support a healthy mouth. For part two, we will be covering foods to include and what to avoid for optimal oral health.
Part three covers supplementation and what you need to know about it.
Let’s get to it shall we!
No. 1 – Eat the Rainbow
Infuse your body in a diet that is rich in an abundance of fresh fruits, land and sea vegetables, fresh herbs, nuts and seeds to provide yourself with a wide range of nutrients and to ensure you’re eating a healthy, varied mineral-rich diet.
Think bright coloured fruits and veggies like dark leafy greens, broccoli, celery, apples, red peppers, tomatoes, strawberries, squash, pumpkin, oranges, sweet potatoes, blueberries, beetroot, onions, sweetcorn, pineapple, kiwi’s etc.
Some of these foods have even been proven to be a fantastic food for healthy gums. Take onions for example. These are known to neutralize oral bacteria. They have microbial properties that target the most common types of bacteria that cause gum disease and cavities.
Vegetables like kale and spinach, and fruits such as oranges, kiwis, pineapple and strawberries are loaded with vitamins and minerals, and one in particular is vitamin C. This particular vitamin helps to boost the production of red blood cells and helps to reduce inflammation, for example gum disease and irritation.
No. 2 – Boost your Intake of Greens Powders
Loaded with easily absorbable vitamins and essential minerals, greens powders like spirulina, barleygrass, chlorella, wheatgrass, alfalfa, nettle, dandelion etc. are a fantastic addition to the diet, and help to provide a whole host of nutrients from a natural food source, and one that your body recognizes and can absorb, plus they’re alkalizing to the body.
Add them to smoothies, green juices, salad dressings, soups, juice or water.
No. 3 – Add Broths to the Base of your Meals
Bone broth, veggie broth, mushroom and seaweed broths make excellent additions to the diet for an added mineral boost. They can be added to anything from soup, to curry, sauces and stews.
No. 4 – Add Seaweeds and/or Seafood to your Diet
Nori sheets for sushi, kombu added to soups/stews, sea spaghetti in your salad. Get creative and start adding seaweeds to your diet for the added mineral content.
No. 5 – Ferment your Food
And I certainly can’t leave out my all-time favourite foods – fermented ones!
Sauerkraut, kimchi, fermented veggies, yogurt, kefr, komucha and natto (a particularly good source of vitamin K – another essential nutrient for bone health).
Fermented foods often contain much higher and more absorbable levels of vitamins and minerals than the food in its raw state.
Let’s take milk for example. Fermentation takes a pasteurized food (in this case, milk, which is no longer raw, but pasteurised and homogenised which actually reduces the calcium and overall vitamin content of the product, making it much harder for the body to digest and utilise.). The fermentation process turns it back into a living food teeming with good bacteria. It doesn’t exactly “reverse” the pasteurization, but at least it does inject some life back into it.
As it cultures at room temperature, the beneficial strains of bacteria and benign natural yeasts will proliferate, metabolize the milk’s lactose and create a sour, thick beverage with vitamins and probiotics, and actually be far more easily digested, even for some who suffer from lactose intolerance. Plus it boosts the absorbable calcium content – woo!
No. 6 – Nosh on Nuts and Seeds
Nuts and seeds are a tasty and easy way of providing the body with a wide range of essential nutrients, including B vitamins, vitamin E, minerals such as calcium, iron, zinc, potassium, magnesium, selenium, manganese and copper. You can easily add them to the diet by making nut butter, nut mylk, adding them to granola, energy balls and simply snacking on them as they are.
No. 7 – Consume Enough Calcium-Rich Foods
Calcium’s reputation proceeds it, and is well known for its ability to help build and maintain strong bones and teeth.
Calcium is the most abundant mineral in the body, making up a huge 1.5 to 2% of the total body weight, and is actually home to the majority of your body’s calcium. They contain roughly 99% of it!
The recommended intake (RDA) is 800 mg/day for children, adults and older people, increasing to 1200 mg for teenagers, pregnant and lactating women.
Plant-based / Dairy-free Food Sources of Calcium
Dark Green Leafy Veg – Kale, romaine, rocket and butterhead lettuce, mustard greens, collard greens, cabbage and broccoli, Swiss chard, Parsley, Dandelion, nettle, watercress, chickweed and microgreens are edible green leaves.
Millet, oats, quinoa
Chickpeas (and many dried beans/legumes)
Sesame seeds and tahini (a paste made from ground sesame seeds), pumpkin seeds, chia seeds, hemp seeds, sunflower seeds
Almonds, brazil nuts, walnuts
Seaweed and sea vegetables e.g kelp, dulse, nori
Dried figs, prunes, dates
Fish and Dairy Food Sources
Sardines, tinned wild salmon with bones
Vitamin D is an integral part of bone and teeth health due to its role in calcium regulation and absorption, preventing the breakdown of bones and increasing the strength of the skeletal system.
The best source of this vitamin is sunlight, as the body makes vitamin D through the action of sunlight on the skin. However, due to Ireland’s northerly latitude this means we cannot always rely on this source, especially in winter, and so we look to food and supplements:
Good food sources of Vitamin D include: eggs, fatty fish, including sardines, mackerel and salmon, canned tuna, mushrooms (portobello, maitake, morel, button, and shiitake mushrooms are all high in vitamin D), and fortified foods like tofu and plant based milks.
No. 9 – Cut/Eliminate Processed Foods and Refined Sugar
This isn’t a shocker to anyone I’m sure, since we all know that sugar destroys the enamel on our teeth and is overall a nightmare for our chompers.
And not only does it directly impact them externally, but it also affects them internally. Sugar can rob us of essential nutrients and lower our ability to absorb the nutrients we are taking in.
Swap out the sweeties for a natural choice, such as strawberries. They’re rich in vitamins and are even known to help whiten the teeth naturally!
No. 10 – Watch your Caffeine Intake
Caffeine can be found in tea, coffee, energy drinks and fizzy drinks and may cause us to excrete calcium in our urine. It can also block our ability to absorb specific nutrients altogether, so try to avoid consuming caffeine during meal times, and especially when taking any kind of supplement.
No. 11 – Watch your Alcohol Intake
Alcohol is another nutrient robber, especially for calcium and B vitamin. The occasional drink is no problem, but if you’re struggling with any kind of oral health problems and are eating a mineral rich diet/supplementing to help improve it, alcohol isn’t really a friend here. Skip it and replace it with a veggie rich green juice, broth or herbal tea.
No. 12 – Watch your Phytate Levels
If you’re eating a diet high in grains, legumes, pulses, nuts and
seeds, you will be consuming a lot of phytates. These have the unfortunate
habit of leeching the mineral and vitamin content of your food and hindering
But there is an easy way around it, not to worry.
Simply soak your grains/nuts/seeds overnight in water (or during the day whilst at work) and rinse them before consuming. 8-12 hours should do the trick. It also lowers the cooking time for grains such as rice and dried beans – bonus!
For example, if you know you’re having chickpea curry that evening, soak the rice and chickpeas during the day, then when you come home you cook them as you normally would, as if straight from the packet/tin.
Do you have porridge every morning? Simply soak the oats overnight (bonus: adding a teaspoon or two of cultured kefir/yoghurt can help break down the phytates even more!) then cook as normal.
It may sound like a hassle, but once you’re in the rhythm it really is no extra fuss.
No. 13 – Chew and Crunch your Food
just your toothbrush that can clean and scrape away food and plaque stuck to
your teeth. Crunchy food like apples, celery and carrots can also get in there
between the teeth and help keep your mouth clean in between brushing.
And then there’s the chewing itself. Leafy greens for example require more chewing due to their high fibre content, which is actually really good for gums because the chewing action creates more saliva. This saliva helps to flush out food particles, bacteria, and plaque that may be sticking to your teeth (especially near the gum line).
Chewing and crunching is also good for strengthening the teeth and gums.
No. 14 – Drink Green Tea
I know I know, I just said to avoid drinking caffeine, BUT, that’s with meals or at the same time as taking supplements. In between meals, with at least a 2 hour gap between supplements, try drinking a cup of green tea daily to give your gums a healthy boost.
Green tea has specific antioxidants called catechins which help gums fight inflammation caused by certain types of oral bacteria responsible for gum disease. These Catechins have the potential to kill bacteria associated with tooth decay and gum disease, which can prevent tooth loss and other oral health problems thanks to their antimicrobial properties.
Green tea has also been shown to ward off the bacteria that causes dental plaque, a sticky deposit on the teeth, which allows microbes to flourish on it which can lead to tooth decay. And since green tea controls the levels of bacteria in the mouth as well as reducing the amount of dental plaque, it can also help to prevent cavities. Research has found that drinking green tea helps in reducing tooth decay and cavities, as well as reducing bleeding gums and helping to control periodontal disease.
With the additional of these nutritious and delicious foods mentioned in this blog, you will be providing your body with a plethora of vitamins and minerals that are essential for good healthy teeth and bones.
Check out part three where we delve into supplements for healthy teeth.
If you have any questions or comments feel free to contact us via our Facebook page or email!
*Please note that while we are knowledgeable about our products and nutrition, this blog should never be a substitute for medical advice and attention
If you are experiencing any discomfort in the mouth, including teeth pain, bleeding gums etc. please consult your dentist. This information is not a replacement for medical advice.
Please remember that you should always obtain the all-clear from your doctor before starting any new supplement plan or diet if you’re on any medication