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Vegetable juice from leafy greens, whole grains and cheese for healthy teeth
Most people learn as a small child that there are foods whose consumption can have an enormous negative impact on dental health. However, there are also foods that are particularly well suited to prevent tooth decay and gingivitis.
Some foods damage your teeth
Sweets, chocolate, sugared and acidic drinks: We learn from childhood that certain foods have a negative impact on our dental health. However, there are also foods whose consumption can do the opposite. Whole grains, cheese or green vegetable juice can help keep your teeth healthy.
Calcium and fluoride
Brushing your teeth is the most effective way to prevent tooth decay, inflammation of the gums and uncomfortable toothache, but various foods can also have a positive effect on dental health.
Health experts point out that especially calcium-rich foods such as milk and green leafy vegetables can keep our teeth healthy. Cheese is also particularly rich in calcium.
Low-acid vegetables such as carrots, peppers or kohlrabi are also recommended. According to scientists, whole grain products also contribute to oral health.
Legumes such as lentils, peas or beans are also good for tooth enamel. They are high in fluoride and calcium. Fluoride promotes remineralization, lowers the risk of caries and disrupts the metabolism of the tooth-damaging bacteria in our mouth.
Mineral water can also contribute to dental health, especially if it also contains fluoride.
It is fundamentally important to have enough saliva in your mouth because it is the best protection for your teeth. It rinses and neutralizes acids and it supplies calcium and phosphate to the tooth.
Vegetable juice from leafy vegetables rich in nitrates
As shown in a study by the University of Hohenheim and the University Medical Center in Würzburg, vegetable juice from leafy vegetables rich in nitrates can also contribute to better dental health.
According to the researchers, it can noticeably improve the course of chronic gum infections after just two weeks.
Nitrate, which plays an important role in the growth and health of plants, accumulates in the leaves of leafy vegetables such as rocket, spinach or Swiss chard. The various leaf salads are among the most important sources of nitrate in human nutrition.
"Nitrate itself is not harmful to health," explains food scientist Prof. Dr. Reinhold Carle from the University of Hohenheim in a communication.
So far, however, the consumption of foods rich in nitrates has been regarded as critical because, under certain circumstances, digestive processes convert nitrate into nitrite, nitrogen oxides and so-called nitrosamines.
"Nitrosamines in particular are considered to be highly carcinogenic and have been linked to the development of esophageal and stomach cancer."
But studies in recent years have increasingly observed health-promoting effects when eating leafy vegetables rich in nitrates.
Because: "If vitamin C is also taken up together with the nitrate, the formation of nitrosamine does not take place," explains Dr. Ralf Schweiggert from the University of Hohenheim clearly.
This is usually also the case: "Plant-based foods usually contain sufficient amounts of natural vitamin C. That is why we have to assess the nitrate intake from leafy greens in a completely different way than with cured meat products, to which the additives nitrate or nitrite are added."
In the study published in the "Journal of Clinical Periodontology", the team led by Prof. Carle and the renowned periodontologist Prof. Ulrich Schlagenhauf from the University of Würzburg showed that this nitrate from vegetable plants can even have health-promoting properties.
Vegetable nitrate for gum inflammation
The 44 study participants with chronic gingivitis were initially divided into two groups.
The first group of 21 people consumed a placebo salad drink developed by Prof. Carle and his team three times a day over a period of two weeks.
The naturally contained nitrate was removed from this by a special adsorber process.
The second group of 23 people received the identical test drink with the originally contained amount of nitrate at equal intervals.
The subjects were examined before the start of the study and for the first time after 14 days. "We were amazed at the differences," says Prof. Ulrich Schlagenhauf.
“After two weeks, there were clear and statistically significant improvements in the gum inflammation of our patients. In the placebo group, in other words, the group in which the nitrate in the test drink was removed, we did not see any improvement. "
According to the researchers, dietary nitrate is quickly absorbed into the stomach and upper small intestine and then transported through the blood to the salivary glands.
There a good quarter of the nitrate absorbed is released into the saliva. In this way, the nitrate concentration in the oral cavity is not only measurably increased when drinking the salad juice drink, but also over a longer period afterwards.
We do not recommend eating leafy greens
As explained in the university's announcement, certain bacteria that are found in the entire throat, and especially in the interdental spaces, convert the nitrate into nitrite.
On the one hand, this has an antimicrobial effect and, by inhibiting harmful bacteria, could directly help alleviate gum inflammation.
On the other hand, it is converted to nitrogen monoxide (NO). The latter is considered to lower blood pressure, promote blood circulation and can trigger anti-inflammatory processes in the body.
"The results of the study should also fuel the health debate about nitrates from plant foods," says Prof. Carle.
"Neither the World Health Organization nor the European Food Safety Authority advise against eating leafy greens, especially if you are not restricted to the particularly nitrate-rich rocket, but rather put together and prepared various leafy salads and vegetables in a balanced manner." (Ad)