You probably already knew that good nutrition is connected to a healthy smile. And did you know that losing weight is not just good for your body, it’s also good for your teeth?
If you’ve decided that this is the year to shed a few extra pounds, you’re in good company. Losing weight is one of the top 10 resolutions for American adults. And many starting a weight loss journey usually think of their waistline, not their teeth.
The good news is those healthy choices you make to lose weight benefit more than just your waistline–they’re also good for your teeth. Read on to discover which healthy food choices make a big difference on the scale and in your smile.
Get your fair share of fruits and veggies
Eating five portions of fruits and veggies daily is not only beneficial for keeping your body healthy and helping you lose weight, they also help your teeth. Fruits and vegetables are fuel for the body and provide the nutrients your body needs to burn calories, helping you to lose weight safely.
To make a difference, eat enough fruits and vegetables to cover half of your plate. Their high water and fiber content help balance the sugars it contains while cleaning your teeth. They also help produce saliva in your mouth, washing away food particles and harmful acids, protecting your teeth from cavities.
Choose mouth-healthy drinks
When thirsty, many people reach for soda or other sugary drinks. What they may not realize is a 20 ounce soda contains an average of 227 calories. And by drinking one can of soda a day, the average American gains 15 pounds in one year.
Gaining weight from soda is bad enough, and it can be even worse for your teeth due to the added sugar. One can of regular soda contains 12.5 teaspoons of added sugar—the amount the FDA recommends for the entire day.
When feeling thirsty, reach for water instead of a surgary drink. It’ll quench your thirst, fuel your body and help protect your teeth.
Ditch the sugar habit
Making healthy food choices can be tough when so many poor food choices are easily available. Cookies, candies, potato chips, french fries and even dried fruits are all so easy to get. And, what’s worse, they taste so yummy. The sad part is these foods contain a large amount of hidden sugars which can end up sticking to your hips and your teeth.
Finding healthier substitues for processed sugar will help you not only lose weight, it will help save your teeth. Fresh fruits like watermelon, apples, and strawberries can satisfy the urge for sugar while feeding your body with the nutrients it needs.
Nuts offer some health benefits, but too much of a good thing is just too much. Nuts and seeds are packed with calories, yet they are a good choice for teeth by reducing the acidity in the mouth. The key is to eat smaller portions and choose ones without added oils and sugars.
Chew, chew, chew
Sugar cravings are real and many times they cannot be ignored. While fresh fruits are a great option, sometimes you’re not in a position to enjoy a piece of fruit. There is an option that will help you avoid adding inches to your waist and clean your teeth at the same time—sugar-free gum. Studies show that chewing a piece of sugar-free gum for 20 minutes after eating can lower the risk of cavities—and weight gain.
Overall, eat a variety of healthy foods, choose foods low in sugar, and choose nutritious snacks to help you lose weight and keep your smile healthy.
Dr. Mike Malone and his team practice expert cosmetic dentistry in Lafayette, LA. Dr. Malone is the former president and accredited member of the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry. He is also the official Cosmetic Dentist of the Miss Louisiana USA and Miss Louisiana Teen USA pageants.