It’s Not Just What You Eat, It’s How You Eat

Your eating habits impact your oral and overall health.

Your eating habits impact your oral and overall health.

Since the first television programming began in the 1920s, our desire for digital distractions has grown exponentially. In fact, nearly 67% of Americans regularly watch TV while eating dinner. This habit can have a negative impact on your health, prompting researchers to suggest it’s important to pay attention to how you eat in addition to what you eat.

According to a 2013 study published in The Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, the faster you eat, the more likely you are to take in too many calories. Texas Christian University researchers found that study subjects consumed fewer calories when they ate food more slowly using small bites. The slower eaters also said they were more full after eating compared to when they ate faster. They also drank more water, which added to the feeling of fullness and helped wash away leftover food particles.

So what does that mean for you? Take time to look at how fast you eat and what you eat. Diets heavy in sugars and carbohydrates feed America’s obesity epidemic and are also bad for teeth. Sugars and carbohydrates help the bacteria in our mouth grow and attack tooth enamel, causing cavities.

If you’re going to have a sugary treat or soda, try to eat or drink it all at once rather than spread it out over many hours. You don’t want to have sugar attack your teeth multiple times. Avoid sticky candy or foods that linger on teeth and try to brush after snacks. If that’s not possible, eat raw fruits or vegetables or chew sugarless gum. These actions produce saliva, which helps wash away food particles caught in your teeth and gums. Another trick is to use a straw when you indulge in sugary drinks. The less contact your teeth have with sugar, the less chance you have of developing a cavity.

A healthy diet doesn’t only consist of avoiding foods that are bad for you. You also need to make sure your meals contain foods that contribute to the health of your teeth. Your body craves nutrients like calcium, vitamin C and vitamin D. Milk, cheese and nuts provide calcium for your body and help make bones strong enough to give structural support for your jaw and teeth. Vitamin D helps the body absorb the calcium and vitamin C protects gums from bleeding easily and teeth from loosening prematurely.

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