The epithet ‘You are what you eat’ coined in the nineteenth century continues to resonate today, but the science around eating for health is far more complex than we thought.
We should of course eat healthy foods, but thanks to the latest research, we now understand that how our body responds to what we eat is also critical.
By making the right food choices, the bacteria in our gut – our gut microbiome – can be tailored to help keep us healthy. Good food choices include plant-based foods and probiotics.
The gut microbiome is home to more than 100 trillion micro-organisms and is central to our overall health. Ideally, the good and bad bacteria that inhabit our microbiome live in a healthy balance as beneficial colonisers. When there is a dysfunction and the healthy balance is lost, our body pays the price and your gum health may also be affected.
Another advance in recent years is our understanding of the role of gum health in our overall wellbeing, something that has been brought into sharp relief by the pandemic.
Research published earlier this year has shown that gum disease has had an impact on our individual experiences of COVID-19. Evidence suggests that individuals with serious gum disease who contracted the virus were at least three times more likely to experience serious complications and symptoms.
Why is this? The likely reason is that periodontal disease (the technical name for gum disease), is an inflammatory condition. If left untreated, gum disease rapidly worsens and spreads inflammation to other parts of the body, negatively affecting general health.
For example, there is a close link between gum disease and diabetes. When helping diabetic patients to improve their oral health by removing dental plaque and cleaning around their gums, their glucose levels can come down enough to potentially drop a diabetic medication.
Essentially, chemical molecules drive our natural response to our diet with the potential to keep us healthy.
With an estimated one in ten people having a degree of periodontal disease, it is an issue we should all be aware of. (It should be noted that anyone with active periodontal disease will be advised against going ahead with orthodontic treatment.)
Our patients will know we promote diets that are healthy for both the mouth and the body, which is why we have partnered with nutritionist Farzanah Nasser. Dr Asif and nutritionist Farzanah work together to support patients of the London Lingual Orthodontic Clinic who want to eat well while in braces.
Visit the ‘Recipes’ section for recommendations about how you can eat both healthily and comfortably with braces throughout your orthodontic treatments.
Above and beyond a shining smile, we believe a healthy mouth is a fantastic insurance policy for future health!
What we eat and how it affects our body has been made very topical, with Dr Michael Mosley’s ‘Just One Thing’ series on BBC Radio 4.
During this programme, Dr Mosley advocates the consumption of fermented foods, like kefir, sauerkraut and kimchi to improve gut health, adding that they are rich in probiotics which have a beneficial impact on the gut microbiome (you can find out more about Dr Mosley’s theories via his Clever Guts website).
Kefir, sauerkraut and kimchi have beneficial effect on the gut microbiome
At the London Lingual Orthodontic Clinic, we encourage patients to adopt positive lifestyle changes, such as maintaining a healthy weight and eating foods that limit inflammation (omega-3 fatty acids). We also encourage our patients to keep their mouths free from disease by maintaining healthy teeth and gums. We have the evidence that a healthy mouth contributes to a healthy body.
The inevitable conclusion is that an integrated approach to health should be the way forward, with diet and nutrition not just contributors to health, but essential to it.