Food For Your Health: Delicious Disease-Fighters

Interest in natural herbs and plants is high these days, and while I do ask my patients to let me know if they’re taking high-dosage supplements, I appreciate and enjoy that some simple everyday natural products have a preventive dental health benefit of their own.

For example, green tea has been shown to protect against oral and other cancers, and a study has found that it freshens breath better than mint, parsley, or chewing gum. Scientists have also found that polyphenols, which have about 100 times the antioxidant effect of vitamin C, are present in green tea, pomegranates, and cranberries. Each of these plants has been shown to protect against heart disease.

Research has also shown that there is a substance in cranberries that can prevent the buildup of plaque – the sticky, invisible film that forms on teeth when bacteria in the mouth adhere together after you eat. If not removed with regular brushing and flossing, plaque can lead to cavities and gum disease. I’d like to point out, however, that in cranberry juice, this plaque-fighting property is a wash because of the added sugar.

Peppermint tea can help with digestive problems, but if herbals and exotic flavors aren’t really your preference, you’ll be pleased to hear that five cups of ordinary tea boosts the body’s defenses against infection. A substance called L-theanine can prepare the immune system to attack invading bacteria, viruses, and fungi. Tea has been linked to combating osteoporosis, lowering heart disease, and lowering cancer risk through the action of flavonoids, a type of antioxidant. Each of these diseases has been linked to periodontal disease.

Here are some simple steps from Twinings to ensure that your tea is served perfectly every time.
• Use freshly drawn cold water, and ensure a de-scaled kettle and a spotlessly clean teapot.
• Teapots should be warmed with hot water which is poured away prior to steeping the tea.
• Use the recommended number of tea bags or one teaspoon of loose tea per cup. For one person use a 10 oz tea pot; for two persons a 20 oz tea pot is recommended.
• Water should always be freshly boiled and boiling when added to tea.
• Leave to brew for 3-5 minutes and stir before serving.
• Pour a little milk into each cup before pouring the tea. Sweeten – but only if you need to.

Also, give don’t be afraid to try red, green, black, or white tea. Remember – they all have interesting flavors, can provide a little break in your day, and have great health benefits too.

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