You embrace a vegan lifestyle to protect animals and the planet. However, have you ever considered what effects your diet has on various aspects of your health? One place where vegan eating can greatly benefit you in many cases is the health of your teeth!
The trick to having a healthy mouth when you have this lifestyle? You need to choose the right foods. Fortunately, you can get all the nutrients you need for healthy chompers from plants — yes, including calcium. Here’s how.
If you want a low-cal crunch that’s great for both your pearly whites and your brain, reach for celery. This snack will polish your teeth, while also helping you to stave off dementia.
Researchers found a link between advanced periodontal disease and dementia in patients with both disorders . They believe that bacteria enter the bloodstream through the mouth, where it travels to the brain, causing inflammation. Celery contains a substance called luteolin, which calms this inflammation.
Maybe you’ve snacked on a McIntosh and noticed how clean your teeth feel after you finished. This effect occurs because apples contain a ton of fiber.
Fiber causes you to chew more thoroughly to break it down. During mastication, your mouth produces additional levels of saliva. Saliva acts as a natural mouthwash, rinsing away food particles and bacteria from tooth surfaces . This cleansing helps to prevent cavities from plaque buildup.
You might know that your body transforms beta carotene, the substance that gives carrots their orange hue, into vitamin A . You might also know your eyes need beta carotene for optimal functioning, especially at nighttime. However, did you know your body also needs this nutrient for healthy teeth?
Your teeth constantly undergo a rebuilding and resorption process. During resorption, vitamin A helps break down the calcium in teeth to a useable form . These cells then combine with other minerals to form new bone — and enamel.
Your body needs vitamin D to convert calcium into a usable form. However, to strengthen teeth, you also need an adequate intake of vitamin K. Reach for a radish — they contain higher levels of this nutrient than many other vegetables.
Vitamin K helps preserve bone strength over time. One study of postmenopausal women found that those who consumed foods rich in vitamin K2 demonstrated greater preservation of trabecular bone structure in their tibia than those whose diets did not . It stands to conjecture that this nutrient also maintains dental strength as you age.
5. Kale and Other Greens
How do you get sufficient calcium intake if you don’t consume dairy? Easily — you eat dark, leafy greens like kale and Swiss chard. Did you know kale is related to broccoli? Broccoli is another excellent source of non-dairy calcium. A single serving of “little trees” contains 180 milligrams of the mineral — nearly 20% of your recommended daily intake .
Compare this figure to cottage cheese, which contains only 120 milligrams of calcium per serving. Have broccoli with vegan cashew cheese as a side at dinner, and enjoy kale and arugula salad for lunch.
Your mind may not turn to pinto beans when you think of foods that are beneficial to your oral health. However, these vegan protein powerhouses also contain high levels of phosphorus, an important substance in dental strength.
Phosphorus is the second most abundant mineral in your body . Without it, your tissues can’t repair themselves — this includes your tooth enamel. The substance also helps your body to utilize vitamin D, an important nutrient in calcium absorption.
Almonds are another important vegan protein source. Plus, they’re high in calcium, which can help you get adequate intake of this vital mineral. You can sprinkle some of these tasty nuts on your lunchtime salad or snack on them for a 3 p.m. energy boost. Because they’re low in sugar, they won’t cause a spike in your blood glucose levels, followed by the crash that makes your couch look so inviting when you get home from work.
Keep Your Teeth Healthy on a Vegan Diet
You can enjoy fabulous health in so many ways when you embrace a vegan lifestyle, and that includes oral health. Incorporate more of these foods into your diet today and reap the benefits!
Kate Harveston is a health and fitness writer with special interests in holistic healing and women’s wellness. If you enjoy her writing, you can visit her blog on women’s reproductive health, So Well, So Woman.