March is National Nutrition Month. Spearheaded annually by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, the campaign focuses on education and information. This year’s theme is “Personalize Your Plate.” In our ongoing effort to promote good health, we are happy to share about the important role nutrition plays in healthy teeth and gums.
Good Health & Good Dental Health
According to NationalNutritionMonth.org, the campaign focuses on “encouraging people to make sound eating and physical activity habits, which include consuming fewer calories, making informed food choices and getting daily exercise in order to achieve and maintain a healthy weight, reduce the risk of chronic disease and promote overall health.”
In recent years, health crises relative to lifestyles in the United States have reached epidemic proportions. Here are a handful of examples:
- The Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) report the leading cause of death in the nation is heart disease. In fact, about 610,000 people die of heart disease in the United States every year–which is one in every four deaths. Most experts agree that the majority of heart problems stem from physical inactivity and poor nutrition.
- More than one third of adult Americans are obese. Some economists estimate that obesity related costs account for more than 20 percent of total U.S. Healthcare expenditures and lead to dozens of serious, associated health problems. Cancer continues to exact a heavy toll on Americans, causing in excess of 600,000 deaths annually. Understandably, the disease ranks highly among health challenges that face the U.S. Although cancer is not entirely attributable to lifestyle choices, there is evidence to support the reduced risk of certain types of cancer with healthy lifestyle choices—such as not smoking, eating a healthy diet, exercising regularly and getting a good night’s sleep.
- Sometimes related to obesity, but certainly not exclusively attributable to it, diabetes currently affects 25 million diagnosed Americans (and likely millions more, who have yet to be diagnosed). A group of diseases marked by high levels of blood glucose resulting from defects in insulin production, insulin action, or both, diabetes can lead to serious complications and premature death. Fortunately, people with diabetes can take steps to control the disease and lower the risk of complications through several means, including (but not limited) to lifestyle choices.
Healthy Choices=Healthy Lives
Few would argue that it makes sense to make healthy choices. But just what should those choices be? After all, there are virtually limitless opinions on the subject…many of which are contradictory. While some experts recommend whole grains and low-fat dairy, others insist the answer lies in following a grain/dairy and legume-free Paleo or nearly opposite meat-free and grain and legume-heavy Vegan diet.
And while some fitness gurus suggest running as the ticket to fitness, others say that running is tantamount to suicide and that, instead, a mere 20 minutes of modest cardio a day will do the trick. With all of the conflicting information, no wonder so many decide to chuck it all and stay home watching TV and ordering a pizza!
Small Changes, Big Differences
So what is the answer? While this is not the definitive list, the following five suggestions should help get you on the right track. Little changes over time will result in big results. So use the month of March to get healthy!
Newton’s Law of Inertia still applies. Objects at rest stay at rest, while objects in motion stay in motion. So move your body.
Once you have started to get your blood flowing on a regular basis, challenge yourself by introducing some basic exercise routines or lifting modest weights. If you are new to exercise, take advantage of introductory free trials at nearby gyms, which usually offer free fitness assessments. If your budget can’t handle gym fees, start by walking around your neighborhood, gradually increasing the duration and speed until you are taking 10,000 steps a day. Pedometers, which count steps, are inexpensive and readily available. If you need a walking buddy, may I suggest your pet? We are great at keeping our family accountable.
- Eat right.
Trying to make your diet healthy overnight isn’t realistic or smart. Changing everything at once usually leads to cheating or giving up on your new eating plan. Make small steps, like adding a salad (full of different color vegetables) to your diet once a day or switching from butter to olive oil when cooking. As your small changes become a habit, you can continue to add more healthy choices to your diet.
- Drink plenty of water.
Kaiser Permanente nephrologist Steven Guest, MD, explains why: “Fluid losses occur continuously, from skin evaporation, breathing, urine, and stool, and these losses must be replaced daily for good health.”
- Limit sugar and salt.
While the debate rages about whether it is healthier to eat lots of animal protein or eliminate that source of food altogether, dieticians and nutritionists agree that sugar causes energy ups and downs and can add to health and weight problems and too much salt can cause high blood pressure and lead to other health problems. So consume sugar and salt in moderation.
We hope that this blog post will help you take steps to eat right and be active in order to stay healthy and maintain happy, healthy teeth and gums!
About Dr. Fred Wong of Blue Ocean Dentistry in Glendora, California
Dr. Fred Wong and the staff at Blue Ocean Dentistry use the latest available dental treatments, equipment, and materials – all of which make a marked difference in our patients’ experiences. We are committed to helping our patients achieve optimal dental health. We creatively combine dental science and artistry — which can literally redesign your smile. Since even a subtle change in your smile will help you to project self-confidence and high self-esteem, we love helping you feel good about yourself. We deliver the finest dental care at the most reasonable cost and accept most dental insurance plans as well as CareCredit. For more about the dental treatment plans we offer or to schedule an appointment, call today (626) 852-6999.