Are You Taking Better Care of Your Teeth This Winter?
The cold seasons can strain your oral health not just because of Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas, but also because you eat more frequently during the winter. Here are some tips you should keep in mind.
According to NPR, you start craving more food in the fall and winter. They interviewed cardiologist Dr. Ira Ockene of the University of Massachusetts Medical School, who explains his research shows that people's average caloric intake is higher in the colder seasons than in the spring and summer.
It's not because you're munching more during Halloween, Thanksgiving, and all the December holiday parties. According to Dr. Ockene, it's actually instinct that causes you to eat more during the colder seasons. Instincts from our common evolutionary ancestors who hibernated or had more trouble hunting and gathering during the fall and winter have been passed down to us. Our common ancestors probably had to hoard more food because of the increasing hardships with plants withering and animals taking shelter for most of the cold days.
Dr. Ockene says evidence shows that what triggers these food hoarding instincts is decreasing daylight. He says that as the days get shorter with sunlight becoming more scarce within a 24-hour period, your food cravings increase.
Obviously, eating more can lead to weight gain, but there's another hidden danger you might not be aware of. Your oral health suffers too when you eat more frequently. According to Dr. Jim Steiner, eating more frequently increases your susceptibility to cavities because you're introducing more sugar and enamel-weakening foods to your teeth.
If you're going to be eating more this winter, eat these healthy foods that keep you thin and your mouth healthy instead of carb-loaded foods:
Root vegetables. Carrots, beets, and other root vegetables make for great finger-foods. You can snack on them while watching TV, and their crispy crunchy texture makes them a great substitute for chips. These antioxidant-rich snacks are low in carbs and high in fiber, which means they'll keep you feeling full without making you fat. The Cleveland Clinic advises you to roast carrots to boost their beta-carotene content, and to boil turnips to boost their vitamins C and A content. Because they're low in sugar, they won't increase your risk for developing cavities as much as carb-loaded foods.
Oatmeal. If you don't add sugar to your oatmeal, it stays a low-calorie breakfast meal that warms your body. The Cleveland Clinic says oatmeal is high in zinc, which boosts your immune system and helps protect you from getting the flu.
Cruciferous vegetables. Darky leafy vegetables, like broccoli and cauliflower, are fibrous. When you munch on them, they can help disturb plaque from forming and remove teeth-destroying acids made by bacteria in your mouth. These veggies are also high in vitamin C, which helps protect you from the flu. They've got next to no calories, so they also won't make you fat.
When you get hungry this winter, try to go for these healthy snacks instead of your usual carb-loaded foods. It's even more important if you're currently in a nursing home or recuperating in rehab or a hospital. According to Dr. Bradford B. Liles at the dentist offices in Mobile, AL, research shows that 90 percent of patients staying for extended periods of time at medical care facilities don't avail of dental services even when they're free. So if you're currently staying at a healthcare facility, make sure to pay attention to your oral health and utilize any offered dental services.