Can Fermented Foods Keep Your Mouth Healthy?
Is there any science behind cultured foods and probiotics promoting better oral health?
For many years, most of the research on probiotics was strictly limited to benefits in your gut health. The benefit for gut health is good enough reason alone to consume probiotics, but more recently, research is indicating that probiotics can be very beneficial for your oral health as well.
Our bodies are a living, breathing host for life; we contain more bacterial cells than human cells! It is import to understand this relationship, especially when it comes to your oral health – your mouth is a perfect environment for bacterial growth: warm, dark , wet, with a continual supply of food.
There are many strains of bacteria in your mouth all competing for limited resources. Some of the bacteria is good (helps digest food and keep nutrients from bad bacteria) and some strains are bad (they can cause cavities and gum disease). Probiotics encourage the growth of good bacteria, which will help to keep your bad bacterial count low.
Several published studies report that probiotics are likely to have beneficial effects on periodontal disease and it is suggested that probiotics produce metabolic substance such as reuterin, which inhibits the growth of periodontopathic bacteria.
One study found those who drank fermented dairy benefited from protective effects against gum disease – though it wasn’t clear whether it was due to the increase calcium or the probiotics (or both!).
Yogurt is a probiotic food and contains microbes that help to defend against disease. However yogurt is hardly the only source of probiotics. There are many fermented foods of all kinds that can be wonderful probiotic additions to your diet. These include cultured cottage cheese, buttermilk, kombucha, kimchi, tempeh, lassi, sauerkraut, raw apple cider vinegar, kefir, miso, and fermented cod liver oil.
Naturally fermented foods have been proven to show many benefits in cultures around the world. Some of the world’s oldest and healthiest people of Okinawa prefecture in Japan consume traditional and cultural foods such as natto, miso, tofu, shoyu, and fermented vegetables, cholesterol-free and high bioactive foods. And in turn their good health allows for them to lead physically active and happy lives.
Probiotics taken with prebiotics have an even bigger impact. Studies show that symbiotic consumption increases survival of probiotic bacteria, stimulating their growth in the intestinal tract and improving the balance of health-promoting bacteria.
Good dietary sources of prebiotic include raw asparagus, raw garlic, onion both raw and cooked, raw dandelion greens, raw leeks, under-ripe bananas, raw chicory root, and raw Jerusalem artichokes. (Why raw? – cooking and heat breaks down helpful elements in some prebiotic foods.)
Pro and prebiotics can be an easy addition to your daily diet and will improve both your oral and systemic health and positively impact your physical and mental health also.
Some people are concerned about consuming a diet high in acidic foods, such as fermented foods due to tooth enamel erosion. To negate any negatives in consuming foods high in acids it is always best to follow these easy steps:
1 – Consume Water
Water is a fantastic tool in the fight against acid attacks, and strengthening tooth enamel. Water is not acidic, and does not harm tooth enamel. It also improves saliva production, which naturally cleans teeth of debris and restores the mouth back to a healthy ph balance. After consuming fermented foods simply drink a glass of water swishing it around in your mouth before swallowing each mouthful.
2 – Eat Calcium Rich Foods
Calcium is a dental super mineral. That’s because it neutralises damaging acids and is a great enamel protector. If you do not consume dairy, try introducing some of these other calcium-rich foods: almond milk, canned fish, kale or coconut yogurt. If you’re consuming packaged food as a calcium source, check the packaging to ensure that it is not loaded with sugar. Many yogurt products are overloaded with sugar so check your labels and go for organic, unflavoured and natural.
3 – Brushing Your Teeth
Don’t brush your teeth for around 1 hour after consuming acidic foods. Use a soft bristled toothbrush, brush for approximately two minutes but don’t brush too hard.
Because it’s time to think differently about your dental health…