Celebrate National Nutrition Month!

 

If you think delicious and nutritious are two totally separate concepts, you’re not eating right. Food should be healthy and enjoyable.

“Savor the Flavor of Eating Right” is the theme of this year’s National Nutrition Month. During the month of March, members of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics and other health-focused organizations focus on providing Americans with the info that they need to enhance their health.

Make It Delicious

The Academy is going all out to encourage people to delight their taste buds with healthy food. Their website is filled with tips and tricks to perk up the contents of your plate, including encouraging the use of herbs and spices to boost flavor, especially if your goal is to cook with less fat and sodium.

Do a little culinary travel with these flavor enhancers from around the world:

  • China: Low-sodium soy sauce, rice wine, ginger
  • France: Thyme, rosemary, sage, marjoram, lavender, tomato
  • Greece: Olive oil, lemon, oregano
  • Hungary: Onion, paprika
  • India: Curry, cumin, ginger, garlic
  • Italy: Tomato, olive oil, garlic, basil, marjoram
  • Mexico: Tomato, chili, paprika
  • Middle East: Olive oil, lemon, parsley
  • Morocco/North Africa: Cinnamon, cumin, coriander, ginger
  • West Africa: Tomato, peanut, chili

Slow Down

The Academy also suggests that we take the time to share meals with our loved ones, and eat mindfully when we’re dining alone.

 

“Research indicates that family meals promote healthier eating and strengthen family relationships,” says registered dietitian nutritionist and Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics Spokesperson Kristen Gradney. “Prioritize family meals and enjoy the food traditions that accompany any type of social gathering.”

Take time to appreciate the flavors, textures and overall eating experience. In today’s busy world, we often eat quickly and mindlessly, Gradney says. “Think about where you eat the majority of your meals. Many eat lunch at their desks or dinner in front of the television. Take a few minutes out of your busy schedule to find a nice place to mindfully eat instead of multitasking through your meals.”

Nutrition and Dental Health

Some of us may think of a healthy diet solely as a way of reducing weight, but the Academy tells us that eating right can also help to reduce the risk of chronic conditions such as diabetes, heart disease, and stroke. Maintaining a healthy mouth also lowers the risk of these diseases, and supports overall wellness.

Over the last few years, medical science has found multiple connections between the state of a person’s oral health and their overall health. It’s becoming increasingly obvious that good oral hygiene is as necessary to wellness as good nutrition. And of course, eating healthy is a key part of maintaining a healthy smile.

Here are nine nutritional ways to help keep your teeth and gums healthy:

1: Limit sugar – Sugar creates the carbohydrates that oral bacteria crave. Carb-fueled bacteria produce acid, which can erode tooth enamel and cause dental decay.

2: Avoid sticky foods – caramels, raisins and dried fruit dissolve slowly and stick to your teeth. The same goes for hard candies (such as lollipops) or sugary cough drops.

3: Skip the popcorn – it has an uncanny ability to lodge between your teeth and gums. And you may even not notice that it is lurking there until your gums get inflamed. If you’re not giving up popcorn, practice your flossing skills.

4: Chew sugarless gum –  chewing promotes the flow of salvia (your body figures if you’re chewing, you need to digest food). Salvia washes away food debris, and helps prevent tooth decay.

5: Eat foods rich in calcium and phosphorus –  eating these foods help to maintain optimal mineral levels in salvia, which neutralizes acid levels in your mouth and protects your tooth enamel.

6: Eat foods rich in Vitamin D and Vitamin C –  these vitamins in particular are essential for strong teeth and healthy gums

7: Consider limiting citrus – acidic foods can soften dental enamel. Other acidic foods include tomatoes, coffee, and pickles. Hint: don’t rush to brush after eating acidic foods, as you may further damage softened enamel. Instead, rinse your mouth with water and wait an hour before brushing.

8: Cheat smart – If you choose to eat acidic or sugary foods or drinks, eat them as part of a well-balanced meal instead of a solo snack. Salvia flows more freely when you’re eating a full meal, so acids/sugars will spend less time in your mouth.

9: Brush and floss – even the healthiest food can cause dental decay if you don’t practice good oral hygiene. Brush for two minutes twice a day, and floss at least once. See your dentist regularly for professional cleanings and checkups.

If regular dental care doesn’t fit into your budget, get healthy with a dental savings plan.

A dental savings plan cuts dental costs by 10%-60%. And unlike traditional dental insurance, there is no waiting period for costlier procedures, and no restrictions on getting treatment for pre-existing conditions.

To learn more about dental savings plans, visit dentalplans.com.

 

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