Category: Food and Health

The Role of Diet in Dental Health
The Role of Diet in Dental Health

Everyone knows that a balanced diet is helpful in ensuring good general health. However, very few people realize that a balanced diet is also responsible for good oral and dental wellbeing. This is because the oral cavity serves as the gateway to the digestive system, and all the ingested food first passes through the oral cavity where it is partially digested. Furthermore, the type of diet we have plays a vital role in determining our dental and general health. Children of all ages are especially at high risk of having carious teeth or developing other medical and dental problems if the parents are not conscious about their dietary intake.

What Not to Eat?

Carbohydrates and Fats

Any diet that is rich in carbohydrates and certain fats should be avoided. Children are especially fond of eating candies and chocolates, all of which contain an excessive amount of processed sugar. Furthermore, bakery products such as breads, pastries, cakes, and pasta, which contain refined carbohydrates, are even more dangerous for the children’s teeth. Research has shown that partial fermentation of the oral cavity starts right from the oral cavity, and as a result the local pH of the mouth is excessively reduced. This acidic environment is highly conducive for the growth and multiplication of caries-causing bacteria, and results in the appearance of widespread carious lesions in the oral cavity (cavities), particularly if the oral hygiene measures are not satisfactory.

bread

Acidic Drinks

Acidic foods and drinks such as lemon, grape and orange juices tend to remove the outer protective layer of the teeth known as the dental enamel, which results in tooth sensitivity every time a hot or cold drink is taken. Similarly, carbonated drinks which have been found to be highly acidic and possess surplus amounts of processed sugars, are detrimental to the integrity of the enamel. Hence, acidic soft drinks and beverages should not be a routine component of our daily diet. When they are consumed, however, the teeth should be brushed promptly.

juice

Minerals

Deficiency of some minerals such as Zinc, Calcium and phosphate in the daily diet is likely to reduce our body’s resistance to curb infection. Studies have shown that mineral deficiency can enhance to chances of periodontal and gingival infections within the oral cavity.

 vitamins

What to Eat

Dairy Products

Dietary milk products such as milk, cheese and yoghurt are a rich reservoir of Calcium and few other essential nutrients. Dietary calcium, is highly beneficial in strengthening and development of bones and teeth. Some dairy products, such as yogurt, contain probiotics which are the good bacteria vital for both oral and digestive health. Look for brands that contain Less sugar, real sugar, and probiotics.

milk

Proteins

A protein rich diet such as meat, eggs, fish and milk are the best sources of phosphorous, which in conjunction with calcium, forms the building blocks for healthy teeth and bones.

meats

Fruits and Vegetables

Almost all fruits and vegetables contain abundant quantities of vitamins and minerals such as Vitamin A and Vitamin C, that are essential not only in preventing oral infections, but also enhancing salivary flow which has antibacterial and anti-caries properties. In addition, natural sugars present in fruits and vegetables have been found “less harmful” than artificially sweetened products. The body is also able to process natural sugars found in fruit, opposed to artificial sugar which can be stored as fat.

fruit veg

The “Good Fats”

Omega 3 fatty acids, in contrast to other fatty diet components, are considered a beneficial dietary constituent, and not only improve general health, but also enhance resistance against periodontal. Gingival and other maxillofacial infections. Good fats can be found in milk, eggs, avocados, olive oil, and peanut butter.

 ”果仁迎新” / 中國飲食文化 Chinese Food Culture /

A Final Word

A healthy diet is essential for maintaining an excellent physical and dental health. Apart from that, meticulous oral hygiene maintenance through regular tooth brushing and flossing is required to prevent incidence and progression of dental caries.

Summertime Thirst Quenchers
Summertime Thirst Quenchers

water drinks

We all know how important water is for our health, especially in the summertime when we are at the highest risk for dehydration. But if you’re a parent, particularly of toddlers, you know how difficult it can be to get your children to drink anything less tasty than juice!

It is a fact, water is the best liquid we can drink for hydration at any time of the year; so much that The American Association of Pediatrics has recommended that children and teens drink water for hydration. They also recommend keeping a distance from drinks that have sugar and/or caffeine like energy drinks, sports drinks and sodas, since these are primary culprits for tooth decay. So when kids are less than thrilled to drink water during the hot summer days, and would rather gulp down a Capri Sun or some apple juice, try some of these tips to not only encourage your child to drink more water, but make it fun and taste great!

First and foremost… be a good role model!

Children imitate example more than they practice what they are told. If your children see you drinking your recommended 8 glasses of water a day, chances are, they will also!

Cold or Room Temperature?

Everything tastes better cold! Right? Not always. If your child has a tooth sensitivity, they may not enjoy the same ice cold water that you do. If this is the case, let water sit to room temperature and then try to give it to your child. On the other hand, many kids like cold water, especially when it is hot, Keep an accessible water dispenser, bottles, or a pitcher in the fridge so that your kids can access it when they are thirsty. Just be careful not to let small children have ice cubes since it can be a choke hazard.

Add Fruit!

Most fruits such as strawberries, watermelon, peaches, and raspberries already contain a mass amount of water in them. Oranges, grapefruit, and melons such as honeydew also contain a lot of water. Watermelons alone are made up of 90% water! Fruits like these can add a tasty twist to a plain cup of water, especially if you live in a city with unpleasant tap water. Freeze berries to make “ice cubes” for those hot days! You can even get some ice cube trays that have fun shapes, such as hearts, stars, or some other fun shape. You can get even more creative and use juice for these ice cubes to give the water a little flavor.
Make “popsicles”

Like the above, put pieces of fruit in a popsicle tray (or use a dixie cup and a popsicle stick) and fill it with water. Let it freeze and serve to your kids like popsicles. You can even let the fruit stand for awhile prior to freezing and allow it to flavor the water.

Use fun cups and straws

This is especially effective for toddlers, give them water in a cup they love and you’re sure to see them drink up! Try a cute sippy, a cup with a crazy straw, or one that your child can decorate! You can actually use their favorite piece of artwork, a picture, or have them design something super special. Taking the time to sit with your child and decorate this cup will make it special for them and they will be apt to use it more! When you are at the store, let them pick out a cup they like and use it to give them water. Also, straws almost never fail! Kids love straws and they come in a wide variety of colors and shapes.

Make some bubbles

If your kids get a thrill from carbonated drinks such as soda and sparkling water, then make your own! Some kids may prefer sparkling to still water. Try a naturally effervescent mineral water — which will give you the added benefit of minerals. You can also try bubbly seltzer, a carbonated water. You can add fresh fruit or natural juice flavors to it, or look for naturally flavored seltzers at your local market.

All shapes and sizes

Get some ice cube trays that have fun shapes, such as hearts, stars, or some other fun shape. You can get even more creative and use juice for these ice cubes to give the water a little flavor.

Steer clear of drink mixes!

Try to avoid drink mixes since they tend to include a lot of added sugar, even those that are “sugar free” contain aspartame, an artificial sweetener.

Independence!

Children love to have independence and learn to help themselves. Get little sippy-top water bottles to keep in the fridge on the door or bottom shelf where they can access them. Many kids thrive on given independence!

Limit the options

Limiting the choice of fluids in your home will help to keep your child from craving the sugary drinks. Water and milk are great options, and if you decide to have juice, half it with water, especially when introducing it to your toddler. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that juice is introduced to toddlers, and if you decide to introduce it to your baby, they should be at least 6 months and the juice should be 50/50 with water. Juice is not bad, but it should be an occasional treat since it has a lot of sugar. Have your child drink a small glass of water before they can have juice or other beverages, this way they have a little control and can decide when to drink.

Water is vital to our health, especially that of growing children. Keep you and your family hydrated this summer, without adding calories and sugar to their diet. If your child is particularly difficult about drinking water, make it a game! Offer them a prize, even if it is a little juice for every cup of water they drink up. Remind them that water is important to grow strong and make sure they see you drink plenty yourself! Cheers!

Artificial Sweeteners: What you need to know about Aspartame
Artificial Sweeteners: What you need to know about Aspartame

Artificial Sweeteners

What you need to know about Aspartame

Lets face it, we all enjoy sweets from time to time and so do our kids! There is so much out on the grocery store shelves to enjoy and many times, we assume sugar is sugar, simple right? Not quite. We hear a lot of it in the news in media, about how bad sugar is for us, and it is in large amounts, especially for our teeth. So what makes sugar bad? Most of us know that too much sugar is in-fact, not good, but it is worse when the sugar we are consuming isn’t even sugar. Not sugar? There are a lot artificial sweeteners out there, just as there are many artificial preservatives in the food stocking the shelves, in the stores you shop from. One of the most commonly used artificial sweeteners is called Aspartame and it is prevalent in many of the occasional treats and even everyday food products you and your kids consume. So, listen up! Here is what you need to know about one of the top artificial offenders: Aspartame.

Aspartame Artificial Sweetener

What is Aspartame?
Aspartame is a low-calorie sweetener that is about 200 times sweeter than sucrose, which is most commonly known as table sugar (obtained from sugar cane or sugar beets). Aspartame is made up of aspartic acid – 40%, Phenylalanine (amino acid found in the brain) – 50%, and methanol/wood alcohol (deadly poison) – 10%. The reason for Aspartame’s allowance in the food and beverages we consume is due to its low-calorie makeup, ability to extend flavors, and friendliness toward diabetics, offering them a sweet taste without increasing blood sugar levels. Aspartame is also found to be non-contributory to tooth decay and beneficial for weight control, since it is a low-calorie sweetener.

Where Did it Come From?
In 1965, medical researcher and chemist James M. Schlatter of the G.D. Searle Company accidentally discovered its sweet taste when he licked his finger to turn a page in his notebook, which had become contaminated with aspartame. James was researching a treatment for ulcers which resulted in the making of this unexpectedly sweet substance. Since that time, aspartame was FDA approved (1981) and has become one of the most highly valued and widely used sweeteners in the food industry today.

Common Offenders Containing Aspartame
Many times, more often then not, advertising and front-labels on packaging can be deceiving. Since it is found in over 6,000 food products today, it is important to read food labels to determine whether or not your sweet treats are sweetened with real sugar or artificial sweeteners such as Aspartame. Studies over the years have shown that Aspartame is actually linked to headaches, migraines, dizziness, tumors and even cancer when it is consumed in large amounts over an extended period of time. Here is a list of the most common products that contain Aspartame:

  • Soda
  • Flavored beverages
  • Diet Products
  • Yogurt
  • Chewing gum
  • cooking sauces
  • Tabletop sweeteners
  • Drink powders
  • Sugar free products
  • Low or no-calorie products
  • Cereals

It is important to check labels for Aspartame, since not all products like yogurt and cereal contain this artificial sweetener. If the food product you are considering is advertised as diet, low sugar, light, sugar free, low carbohydrate, or low calorie, it is likely that aspartame is the artificial sweetener additive. This sweetener is also present in many other commercially made food products such as candies, cakes, cookies, etc.

Conclusion: Making a Conscious Choice
Avoiding artificial ingredients is a difficult task as you walk the grocery store isles, but it is not impossible and you can make healthier choices for your family without going over budget. Here are some things you can do to make healthier choices about the food products you choose:

  • Read ingredient labels on your food choices and look for listings such as: aspartic acid, natural flavors, acesulfame potassium, sucralose, neotame, and saccharin.
  • Cut back on foods containing aspartame since it is not significantly harmful in very small amounts.
  • Consider possibly cutting back on soda and flavored beverage products and switching to drinks flavored with cane sugar or drink coconut water.
  • Sweeten teas with honey or raw sugar instead of tabletop sweeteners
  • Consider cutting gum out of your diet or reducing the amount you chew

By understanding more about this artificial sweetener, Aspartame, you can decide whether or not it is a product you should or should not continue to consume. Consider doing your own research about Aspartame and other artificial sweeteners. While they may be a great alternative choice for diabetics, they may not be an option for you and your family when it comes to enjoying the sweet things in life.

The Truth About GMO’s
The Truth About GMO’s

With the constant debate between organic and non-organic eating taking place in the media right now, it is easy to feel confused and overwhelmed with the pro’s and con’s of each. We hear words like grain-fed vs. grass-fed, cage-free vs. free-range, and GMO vs. organic on a daily basis. We see the labels and stickers on our fruits and vegetables when we go to the market. AND we of course notice the difference between price tags. Just compare the cost of organic apples to non-organic ones, and you’ll see what I mean. In this constant conversation about food and its affect on our overall health and well being (as well as that of our kids’) how do you decide which side you fall on? There’s a lot to be discussed, but for now let’s just take a general look at what the term “GMO” means and how it’s affecting us most directly.

What are GMO’s?

The abbreviation GMO stands for “Genetically Modified Organism”. These are foods (produce, meat, poultry, corn, etc.) that have been genetically engineered, altered, or “improved”. Basically, it’s food that’s been messed with by scientists. The goal behind these alterations and modifications is to produce crops that will not be killed by the pesticides that they’re sprayed with in order to keep destructive weeds and bugs to a minimum. When meat or poultry is genetically modified, it is usually done to make the animal bigger: bigger chicken breasts, bigger eggs, etc. The scary part of all of these modifications is that we have no real comprehension of the ramifications of ingesting these foods.

A Little History

Researchers with Genetically Modified CornPrior to 1994, there was not a single genetically modified crop in the United States. Now, there are over 165 million acres of GMO crops planted every single year. The mindset behind the use of GMO’s is basically quantity over quality. Excess, when it comes to food, has taken over the American public and therefore mass production has enveloped the agricultural community (organic farmers being the exception, of course). Farmers utilizing sturdy, un-killable, GMO seeds means that the crops will be stronger. These stronger crops mean that heavier, more powerful chemicals can be sprayed all over them without harming the actual crop. Being able to use heavy-duty pesticides means that the crops will have a greater survival rate against weeds and bugs. And fewer lost crops means more produce, which in turn means greater profit for the farmers and the big corporations they work for. Yet the question remains: at what cost are we eating these genetically modified foods? If gallons of pesticide can’t kill the tomatoes you use on your BLT when they’re out in the field, then how is your stomach supposed to break them down and glean nutrition from them? The goal of GMO’s is to create indestructible crops. Our bodies, however, are not designed to live off of virtually indestructible food.

The Biggest GMO Offenders

In the United States today (according to a 2010 study), 85% of all corn crops, 90% of all soybean crops, and 90% of all sugar beet crops come from genetically modified seeds. Just walk through your super market and pick a pancake mix or box of your kid’s favorite crackers off the shelf. Look at the ingredients. I mean, actually read what is in goldfish or Bisquick.

It’s nearly impossible these days to find anything that doesn’t have some kind of corn, soybean, or sugar beet byproduct in it. Soybean oil, soy lecithin, cornstarch, and refined sugar permeate more than half of the foods on our grocery store’s shelves. And, given the high percentages of GMO crops, you can pretty much guarantee that those corn and soy and sugar-based ingredients have been genetically altered.

It is also worth noting that, within the United States, there are no mandatory laws to have GMO foods marked as such. Meat and poultry can be genetically modified and we would have no way of knowing. In fact, meat (such as beef) could come from a cloned animal, and the U.S. government still does not require that information to be put on the label of the packaged product so that the consumer will know what they are ingesting. Nearly all European countries (England, France, Italy, New Zealand, etc.) require that GMO food be labeled as such. They believe that GMO’s are simply too new to insure that there are no harmful side effects to ingesting them on a regular basis.

Conclusion: Eat Organic

Given the current status of our FDA standards, the only GMO-devoid option is to eat certified organic foods. They are really the only food option in the United States that ensures you will not be eating GMO’s. Even foods labeled “All Natural” can have GMO derived ingredients. If you want to learn more about genetically modified foods and the companies that have promoted their distribution within the United States, check out documentaries like Food Inc. and Food Matters. They will help shed even more light on the frightening realities and implications of the GMO world we are living in.

Sources:

Food Inc.

Food Matters

“What Does GMO Mean?”