A Big Smile For Strong Bones
Healthy teeth and healthy bones go together naturally. Have you noticed Skelly’s pearly whites? Dazzling!
Teeth aren’t bones but they have lots in common. Both are hard, white and full of calcium.
If you have osteoporosis, you may have a higher risk of losing your teeth. When your jawbone becomes less dense, teeth can loosen. In fact, women with osteoporosis tend to have fewer teeth than women with normal bone density.
Fortunately, some of the same foods that make your bones strong also make your teeth strong. Here are a few bone-healthy foods that also protect your teeth.
1. Grass-fed Cheese. Vitamin K2 from grass-fed dairy helps increase production of osteocalcin in the cells that build bones (osteoblasts). It also inhibits production of cells that break down bone (osteoclasts).
Cheese is also rich in calcium and vitamin D, both essential for bones and teeth. But cheese also has the milk protein casein that helps build up tooth enamel.
2. Sardines. I always say eat bones for your bones. That’s why I love sardines. Three ounces of canned sardines give you almost as much calcium as a cup of milk.
These tiny fish also have a big supply of vitamin D. That’s also key for your teeth. Vitamin D boosts your immune system to keep mucosal tissues in your mouth healthy. It may also support remineralization of your tooth enamel.
3. Bone Broth. As chicken bones simmer in the pot for hours they release collagen, the material that helps keep your bones flexible. They also release minerals that go into building up your teeth. These include phosphorus, an important mineral that protects your tooth enamel. Other good sources of phosphorus include grass-fed beef and fatty fish like wild-caught salmon. Click here for my Bone Broth recipe.
4. Berries. Their beautiful reds, blues, blacks, and purples tell you that berries are full of natural antioxidants. Studies show that blueberries protect bone mineral density from free radical damage.[i] Berries like cranberries also help prevent pathogens from attaching to teeth and damaging them. Please read my BLOG how to prevent berries from getting moldy.
5. Kiwi fruit. Vitamin C helps new osteoblasts form to build new bone. It also impedes the destruction of bone by osteoclasts.
But vitamin C also helps build the collagen network in your gums. It helps prevent gum infections and prevent periodontal disease. Kiwi a great source of vitamin C. So are berries, citrus fruits, bell peppers, dark leafy greens, broccoli, and papayas.
6. Chocolate. Without enough magnesium, bone nutrients like calcium and vitamin D can’t do their jobs. Cacao provides your body with the magnesium needed to convert vitamin D into its active form. If it’s not activated it can’t turn on your body’s calcium absorption.[ii] Cacao is also good for your teeth. It helps reduce gum inflammation and prevents tooth erosion and decay. Nibbling a piece of dark chocolate may protect your teeth. Just make sure it’s doesn’t have a lot of sugar in it. Aim for 70% raw cacao in your chocolate.
7. Green tea. Research shows green tea helps improve bone health in post-menopausal women.[iii] It also has anti-inflammatory powers that support your teeth and gums. It makes your mouth more alkaline, freshens your breath, and slows the growth of cavity-causing bacteria.
8. Sesame Seeds. These tiny seeds are rich in calcium. That’s why I love tahini, the paste made from grinding sesame seeds. I use tahini on wraps, in veggie dips, and in salad dressings. But sesame seeds also keep teeth healthy. They help dissolve the plaque that builds up on tooth enamel.
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When it comes to choosing the right foods to optimize your bone health, what is the single biggest challenge, frustration or problem you’ve been struggling with?
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From my bones to yours,
[iii] Shen Cl et al, “Effect of green tea and Tai Chi on bone health in postmenopausal osteopenic women: a 6-month randomized placebo-controlled trial.” Osteoporos Int. 2012 May;23(5):1541-52.