Diet and toothbrushing

Why is a healthy diet important to your oral health?

We spend trillions of dollars in the United States to cure disease each year. With health care and insurance at an all-time high prevention is more important than ever.

Simply changing your diet and taking the time to brush your teeth 2 minutes 2 times a day can make a huge impact on your health and increase your life expectancy.

I have a hard time eating processed foods and sugars, for years I have been fighting what I want to eat and what I need to eat to not feel tired and achy.

I have found that what I choose to eat makes a huge difference in how I feel, sleep and focus.

What I eat makes a difference on what I can accomplish in a day. If I eat allot of junk food I am in a brain fog for days.

Eating healthy takes effort, the foods that are good for you are more expensive, harder to get and take longer to plan for and prepare. At least for me.

I am hardly ever home am always running between work and the next practice or event my daughter is in. I do not plan well. I never have. I am not the mom who takes the time to plan weekly meals and cook them. I go for the convenience.

Then I pay the price in the way I feel. If I choose the fast food approach over the healthier option, I notice I have more headaches, body aches, sleep less, get more leg cramps in the middle of the night and I am cranky or hangry.

To be honest I do not make the time or take the time to plan and execute creating healthy meals even knowing I will feel better if I do.

It is a vicious circle I created for my life. I know what I need to do, yet I do not. Why? Because it takes longer, and I tell myself I don’t have the time or the energy.

That is not true. It is however, what I tell myself. I can make the time I will have the energy if I just do it. I take the easy and fast drive thru and get food way more than not, until I am so tired of eating out I cannot take it anymore.

We all do it, some more than others. My daughter even makes jokes about my lack of cooking as do most of my friends. I don’t always think it is funny. It is the truth. It sometime makes me feel very inadequate. I need to do better not only for myself but for my daughter.

What am I teaching her?

I am writing this blog to show that I am only human. No one is perfect. We can learn and grow and make changes to create a healthy life for ourselves and our family.

So where am I going with this?

What we eat and how we brush can help extend your life and improve your health. Studies reveal that a healthy diet can help you elude ailments that plague people as they age, including heart disease, diabetes, stroke, hypertension, cancer, Alzheimer’s, low birth weight, and cataracts. To name a few.

There is no shortage of new and conflicting advice on diet and nutrition. Stick to the basics with eating more vegetables, fruits, and whole grains; drinking more water and striking a healthy balance.

There are several places you can get more information on healthy eating on the internet. I am definitely not an authority on that topic. I am a more what not to do than a what to do. J

Find someone who’s message resonates with you, so you will be able to follow them and stay on track with a healthy diet that works for you and your family.

Diet relies on willpower.

Dr. Susan Peirce Thompson, New York Times best-selling author and founder of Bright Line Eatingexplains, it isn’t about how much willpower you have, but how automated you make your food choices.

“We think of our entire system [at Bright Line Eating] through the lens of automaticity,” Dr. Thompson explains. “The system itself is designed to be executed with as little conscious effort as tooth brushing. As you do it for a few months, you one day realize, ‘Wow, I’m eating the right thing every day, day in and day out, without thinking about it.’”

It’s unsurprising then, with the average person making around 221 food decisions per day, that despite best intentions, you may find yourself falling into the Willpower Gap.

“[The Willpower Gap] is the space between our ideal state of how we’d like to be eating and working out, and the choices that we’re actually making day in and day out,” Dr. Thompson says. We may start the day intending to have a salad for lunch, but by the time we get out of a frustrating morning meeting, pizza is sounding better. And the part of the brain toggling back and forth between salad and pizza is one that is easily hijacked by cravings and rationalizations.

But back to the tooth brushing example: activities that are second nature get initiated by a completely different part of the brain—the basal ganglia.

“We think of our entire system [at Bright Line Eating] through the lens of automaticity,” Dr. Thompson explains. “The system itself is designed to be executed with as little conscious effort as tooth brushing. As you do it for a few months, you one day realize, ‘Wow, I’m eating the right thing every day, day in and day out, without thinking about it.’”

Every time you eat or drink anything sugary, your teeth are under acid attack for up to one hour. This is because the sugar reacts with the bacteria in plaque (the sticky coating on your teeth) and produce harmful acids.

Acidic foods and drinks can be just as harmful because the acid ‘erodes’ or dissolves the enamel, which can cause cavities and make your teeth sensitive.

Many processed foods have sugar in them, and the higher up it appears in the list of ingredients, the more sugar there is in the product. Always read the list of ingredients on the labels when you are food shopping.

When you are reading the labels remember that ‘no added sugar’ does not necessarily mean that the product is sugar free.

A diet that is rich in vitamins, minerals and fresh fruit and vegetables can help to prevent cavities and gum disease. that can eventually lead to tooth loss.

Brushing play just as an important role as diet and exercise in maintaining overall health.

It is important that you brush two times at least two minutes a day.

It is especially important to brush before bed. This is because the flow of saliva, which is the mouth’s own cleaning system, slows down during the night and this leaves the mouth more at risk.

If you have not brushed since the morning all of the sugars from the foods you have eaten during the day react with the plaque that have built up on your teeth, if you do not brush before bed they have all night while you sleep to weaken the enamel and cause cavities.

Think of how second nature brushing your teeth is.

95% of people brush their teeth each and every day without even thinking about it—even when facing illnesses, crazy schedules and unexpected family crises.

Dr. Thompson is right… we are not thinking about what we are doing when we are brushing, and one out of two people have gingivitis. We need to reduce this number, by brushing two minutes getting every surface of our teeth and brush the gums.

A simple change so when we are not thinking about what we are doing it is second nature not only to do it but do it correctly.

Diet and toothbrushing

A simple change to train our brain to do two things that are important to our overall health.

What is important to you? What are you going to make the time to do?



Susan Peirce Thompson, Ph.D. is an Adjunct Associate Professor of Brain and Cognitive Sciences at the University of Rochester and author of the New York Times Best-Selling book, Bright Line Eating: The Science of Living Happy, Thin, and Free.