What is the best diet for healthy teeth and long life?

More and more research has emerged demonstrating the correlation between dental health and your overall health. We asked you to look over the lunches of the dentists and the staff and decide which one you thought was better to keep your teeth and body strong for a long time. Many of you had great responses. These were the best, most comprehensive answers:

Larry Boulware Dr. A’s lunch has more vitamin & mineral (calcium) rich green vegetables. While Dagmar’s lunch probably tastes better, I think Dr.A’s lunch is better for your teeth as well as your body.
Erica Horn I vote for Dagmar lunch B. More super foods like berries and peppers, a larger variety of veggies and no fattening cheese.
Paulette Gardner Dr. A’s lunch is the better of the two because his has the string cheese which provides both protein and calcium for bones and teeth! Both lunches had good veggies, fruit, and nuts, but Dr. A had protein and Dagmar did not.
Eileen Domalaog Dr. Andresen’s lunch is healthier. Yes, it includes protein, but also has a variety of colors for a wider range of nutrients.
Kay F. Lubansky My vote goes to Dr. A. Seems a bit more balanced on the Carbs/Protein/Fats. More Omega 3’s too.
Andrea Lo Verde Lane I vote for Dr A. He has the calcium, the crunchy fruit, nuts and carrots, all to clean away the bacteria, lunch B has the carbs with three soft fruits.

We put those names in a hat to pick the winner of 2 movie tickets and the winner is………….. Larry Boulware! Congratulations Larry!

For healthy teeth and body what we are looking for in a healthy lunch are pretty much what you would expect – fruits and veggies, whole grains, lean protein, and plenty of water. Here we compare how and why the healthy lunches posted in the contest beat fast food – the daily lunch choice of 1 in 4 Americans.  Dr. A, Leslie, Dr. Rosen and Dagmar all had lunches that contribute to stronger teeth and longer life. Here’s what they are made up of:

  

1.     Fruits and veggies – duh.
Fruits and veggies are great for dental health because the crisp texture acts as a detergent on teeth, wiping away bacteria that can cause plaque. Plus these foods require a lot of chewing, which increases the production of bacteria-neutralizing saliva. They also have a high water content that helps neutralize the acid.

They also contain vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients that protect and repair cells from damage caused by free radicals (unstable cells caused by a variety of factors including pollution, smoking, aging that attack stable, healthy cells). Many experts believe this damage plays a part in a number of chronic diseases, including hardening of the arteries, cancer, and arthritis. Free radicals can also interfere with your immune system. So, fighting off damage with antioxidants helps keep your immune system strong, making you better able to ward off colds, flu, and other infections. (Ask Dr. A how he never gets sick!).

2.     Whole grains
Whole grains are better sources of fiber and other important nutrients, such as selenium, potassium and magnesium. They also lower levels of C-reactive protein (CRP) in the blood, a marker of inflammation associated with periodontal disease, along with high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes and rheumatoid arthritis. In a study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, researchers announced that, because diabetes and hyperglycemia increase the risk of periodontal inflammation, increasing your daily intake of whole grains and fiber can help offset the risk of developing periodontal disease.

Study participants who replaced their intake of processed grains, like white bread and regular pasta, with whole grains, like whole-grain bread and whole wheat pasta, had a 23% reduction in the incidence of periodontal disease, compared to those who continued to eat processed grains.

Those with the greatest risk reduction ate four servings of whole grains on average by simply replacing servings of processed grains with whole grains. They did not increase their caloric intake when making the switch to whole grains.

3.     Lean protein
The best way to get protein is from beans as they provide both fiber AND protein and have no fat. Along with protein, fiber helps you feel full longer and also helps lower cholesterol. One and a half cups of beans has about as much protein as 3 ounces of broiled steak.

Cheeses, chicken or other meats, nuts, and milk are also good as they protect tooth enamel by providing the calcium and phosphorus needed to remineralize teeth (a natural process by which minerals are redeposited in tooth enamel after being removed by acids).

4.     Water / Green Tea
Removing substances that attract bacteria that then create the acid that causes cavities is very important in maintaining a healthy mouth. Water is the best way to do this so be sure to drink plenty of it after your meal to wash your teeth.

Green tea has been found to have positive benefits for your teeth as well, as long as it is unsweetened. Research published in Preventive Medicine show that drinking at least one cup of green tea a day increases the odds of keeping your teeth as you age. The researchers suspect that antimicrobial molecules called catechins present in green tea and in lesser amounts in oolong tea provide the benefit.

Versus

Fast Food meal of Hamburger, Fries and Soft drink
It really is difficult to find a worse meal for the health of your teeth and longevity than a typical fast food meal.

1.     Fruits and veggies – not
Are noticeably absent from this mean except in the form of French fries. Though they are the most consumed ‘vegetable’ in America, French fries are highly processed and if they are from a fast food restaurant they also contain animal products and are flavored using though it is not clear which animal. Also, because fast food is so highly processed, much of its flavor is destroyed, so the tastes of most fast food are manufactured at a series of special chemical plants.

French fries also stick to the teeth and, because they are so processed, they are quickly broken down into sugar, which accelerates cavity formation.

2.     Whole grains – not even close
Fast food hamburger buns are made from highly processed flour and are created to dissolve quickly and deliciously in your mouth. The list of ingredients in a McDonald’s hamburger bun is as follows: “Enriched flour (bleached wheat flour, malted barley flour, niacin, reduced iron, thiamin mononitrate, riboflavin, folic acid, enzymes), water, high fructose corn syrup, sugar, yeast, soybean oil and/or partially hydrogenated soybean oil, contains 2% or less of the following: salt, calcium sulfatecalcium carbonatewheat glutenammonium sulfateammonium chloride, dough conditioners (sodium stearoyl lactylate, datem, ascorbic acid, azodicarbonamide, mono- and diglycerides, ethoxylated monoglycerides, monocalcium phosphate, enzymes, guar gum, calcium peroxide, soy flour),calcium propionate and sodium propionate (preservatives), soy lecithin.”

McDonald’s hamburger buns have been left out for 6 months and have yet to rot, clearly indicating the level of preservatives they contain that also make them very difficult to digest.

Again, like French fries these highly processed grains lodge themselves easily into your teeth and are meant to break down quickly into sugar.

3.     Lean protein – ha ha ha
Fast food burgers are made from the meat of various animals from various parts of the globe and so carry a risk of contamination unlike whole meats. They also are treated with an excessive amount of salt to preserve them, elevating blood pressure dramatically.  As the intake of sodium increases, there is an increase in the urinary excretion of calcium.  This increased excretion of calcium may be responsible for reduced peak bone mass and increased bone demineralization which, in turn, increases the risk for osteoporosis and bone fractures, as well as jaw and teeth problems. This concept is extremely important when thinking in terms of children who are in the critical stage of developing bone density.

4.     Soft drinks – the killer
The high acid and sugar content of soft drinks are the one – two knockout punches for your teeth. In addition the relationship between soft drink consumption and body weight is so strong that researchers calculate that for each additional soft drink consumed, the risk of obesity increases 1.6 times. 70% of cardiovascular disease is related to obesity, 42% of breast and colon cancer is diagnosed in obese individuals, and 30% of gall bladder surgery is related to obesity.