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Maintaining a healthy weight is good for overall health, and that can be good for your dental health. But losing weight at all costs? Not so much. Fad diets come and go, and sometimes they can be the right fit to help you lose weight. But are they good for your health? And could your new fad diet be harming your teeth and gums?
Pros and Cons of 3 Fad Diets
Here we discuss the good and bad aspects of each of these three fad diets, and how they can be helping, or hurting, your oral health.
The keto diet is definitely trending. This controversial diet is characterized by an extremely low carbohydrate intake. While many people have found successful weight loss with this diet, others claim it is difficult to adhere to long-term.
The keto diet means practically no sugar or starches. This can be beneficial for your teeth. Sugar feeds the bacteria in our mouths, which results in the buildup of acidic byproducts and plaque that can lead to tooth decay. Starchy carbs can be converted to sugar in the mouth and have the same result.
With the keto diet comes “keto breath.” As your body learns to use ketones as fuel instead of carbs, the byproducts are released. This makes your breath smell like acetone. Don’t worry, though; keto breath will not last long, and it is actually not harmful to your teeth.
You should, however, watch out for dry mouth, which can have negative oral health consequences. If you experience dry mouth as a result of keto, drink plenty of water to mitigate its effects.
Rather than telling you what to eat, intermittent fasting focuses on when to eat. Instead of the common three-square-meals-per-day tradition, or more recent practice of eating several small meals and snacks throughout the day, IF preaches a much smaller “eating window.” There are many variations, from 16 hours of fasting and 8 hours of eating all the way to a one-meal-a-day approach.
Intermittent fasting makes it simpler for many to restrict calories. And it certainly takes a lot of work and decision-making out of dieting by reducing the number of meals in a day.
In addition, IF appears to be associated with reduced inflammation, which can have numerous health benefits, including lowering your risk of gum disease. I can also potentially lower the risk of cavities as less snacking (especially on sugary and starchy foods) means less food debris for bacteria in your mouth to feed on.
Like keto, you want to be mindful of dry mouth. Drink plenty of water while fasting to stay hydrated. Also, avoid IF if you have a history of disordered eating. This type of food restriction can be dangerous for those with a difficult relationship with food.
Low-fat diets are hardly a fad, but we felt it is important to discuss them because many people have been avoiding fat for decades. However, we now know that fat in our diets does not necessarily translate to fat on our bodies, and these diets have come under scrutiny in recent years.
Some fats are extremely unhealthy. Trans fats are the worst offenders. They raise bad cholesterol and lower good cholesterol while increasing your risk of cardiovascular disease. Saturated fats are not quite as bad as trans fats, so while you should avoid trans fats entirely, saturated fats should be eaten in moderation.
Some fats are not only good for your health but are necessary for your body to function properly. Omega 3’s, found in fatty fish and grass-fed beef, reduce heart disease risk and lower blood pressure. Other healthy fats, like olive oil, improve cholesterol. Fats are necessary for your body to absorb certain vitamins (such as calcium and vitamin D – which are essential to jaw and tooth health).
Which Diet Should You Choose?
If you need to lose weight, the best diet is the one that works – and the one you can stick to! Making good choices that are sustainable is the best place to start when it comes to nutrition. Remember that restricting calorie intake too much can lead to malnutrition, which can weaken tooth enamel and make gums vulnerable to periodontal disease.
Before starting any strict diet, it is important to discuss your plan with your doctor and your dentist. For more information about nutrition and your dental health, schedule your next appointment today.