Nutritionist Rick Hay highlights which foods to eat—and which ones to avoid—for healthy teeth and gums
Maintaining a healthy smile takes a lot more than just brushing twice a day. What you eat has a big impact on your oral health; it makes sense, considering it comes into direct contact with your teeth. If you want to keep your pearly whites clean and strong, consider adding some new items to your diet—or taking some things out. Nutritionist Rick Hay recommends his top foods for your best smile ever.
Foods to eat for a healthy smile
Yellow and orange foods
‘Bright yellow and orange foods are rich in beta-carotene, which is a precursor to vitamin A. They’re going to help with your mucous membranes. Healthy mucous membranes make for healthy gums, and you’ve gotta have healthy gums to have healthy teeth.’
‘Think also about oily fish. I mention these an awful lot because they’ve got some really good healthy omegas in there that help your skin, hair and nails, and also healthier teeth.’
‘When you think about supplements for your teeth, I bet you automatically think about calcium. Calcium is great to get nice, strong, healthy teeth, and nuts and seeds will help you to keep your calcium levels up, but what you really want to do is look beyond that. Let’s talk about probiotics for gut health: healthy gut, healthy mouth, healthy gums, so probiotics are important, (such as) Acidophilus and Bifidus. We also want to talk about things like Coenzyme Q10—it’s also great for the mucous membranes.
‘The other things to think about are vitamin A and beta-carotene. They’re both terrific for mucous membrane health.
‘If your gums are bleeding, go for an immune system stimulator like olive leaf extract, even Manuka honey. They’re really going to help with that.
‘Think about having some raw food in your diet, things that haven’t been overly processed, that aren’t high in sugar, because they go hand-in-hand with the supplements.’
Foods to avoid
‘This has got to be the easiest question for a nutritionist to answer: what foods to avoid for healthy teeth? Of course, the culprit is sugar. You really don’t want too much in your diet. It’s not great for your teeth. It’s also not great for your skin; it promotes glycation and ageing. It might taste good, but the ramifications on overall health aren’t good.’
Coffee and tea
‘You want to avoid too many cups of coffee and tea because they’re going to stain your teeth, and also they’re not great for the other systems in the body as well. We want to keep gut health healthy because it’s all linked. This is all one body, and you don’t just have teeth that are healthy if you’ve got an unhealthy gut.’
‘Cut down on too much meat. It doesn’t do your digestive tract any good, and therefore it’s got an impact on your teeth as well.’