Nutrition might seem like a pretty straightforward topic, but it can quickly veer from "put food in mouth to live" to a deeply confusing place. With acronyms. And statistics. And conflicting ideologies. And just when you think you have your healthy eating journey covered, a new trendy diet comes along and knocks you off your stride. In the spirit of finding a nutritional balance that works for you, we're outlining three trendy diets, and taking into account their effect on your teeth.
THE FAT-BURNING DIET
The ketogenic diet is having a moment. This high-fat diet originated as a medical diet designed to shift the type of fuel your body uses for energy. When this happens, you're in ketosis, and your body burns its stored fat to get energy from ketones.
The keto diet should be rich in proteins and fats, such as meats, eggs, fish, nuts, butter, oils, and cheeses, and fibrous vegetables, all of which should support good oral health. Just don't overload on protein and poor-quality fats from processed foods and forget to incorporate vegetables and fruit within the carbohydrate allowances.
TEETH TIP: Watch out for keto breath, described as an overly sweet smell on the breath. It's a side effect of ketosis, and the smell is attributed to a compound called acetone being released from the lungs.
THE CAVEMAN DIET
The popular Paleo diet is about throwing it back to the paleolithic era, and eating foods our hunter-gatherer ancestors might have consumed. The idea is to avoid foods that became staples of the human diet after agriculture took hold.
The Paleo diet encourages people to eat fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds, oils, lean meats, and fish — all of these foods are generally great for healthy mouths, too. The diet omits dairy, legumes, potatoes, and grains that are otherwise considered part of a healthful diet, as well as refined sugar, salts, and highly processed foods.
TEETH TIP: Dairy is often recommended as part of a diet to support oral health, so make sure you are getting enough calcium in your diet.
THE HEART-HEALTH DIET
The Mediterranean diet is based on the eating habits of people in southern Italy and Greece in the 1960s. It has been shown to improve heart health, lowering "bad cholesterol" and reducing risk of stroke and heart attack.
This diet encourages eating a rounded diet rich in fruits and veggies, which is good for oral health, too. In addition to fruits and vegetables, this type of diet emphasizes olive oil, dairy, legumes, fish, white meat, nuts, starches — it even allows for desserts and wine. The key to this eating plan is limiting quantities: 4 to 6 ounces of red wine per day, one 3-ounce dessert per week, 3 servings of fish per week, 3 servings of dairy per week, etc.
TEETH TIP: Because the daily glass of red wine could stain teeth over time, you may want to see your dentist more often for cleanings or look into whitening products.