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A well-balanced diet is needed to keep human bodies healthy. Many people think of eating healthy foods as a way to give their body the energy it needs for remaining active and physically fit, but a healthy diet does much more for the body than that. Foods and drinks that are high in calcium, such as milk and cheese, team up with the body to ensure that bones stay strong. Bones are much more than just what we can feel through skin; they are also in mouths in the form of teeth.
Basic Nutrition Needs
It is important for people of all ages to eat a wide variety of healthy foods. Although apples, for instance, are a healthy food choice, a person cannot eat only apples and remain healthy. This is because each food contains certain vitamins and minerals that bodies need in order to function properly. For example, a lot of fruits contain vitamin C, which helps a person’s immune system stay strong, but fruits usually do not contain calcium, which is needed to keep bones strong. Picking and choosing food from only a few food groups leaves the body without the nutrients that it needs to help other parts of the body. To ensure that no part of the body is left without the vitamins and nutrients it needs, it is important to eat foods from every food group each day. Eating grains, dairy, fruits, vegetables, and meats or beans every day is the best way to help bodies stay healthy. Foods that do not fit into the food group categories (such as candy) do not contain vitamins or nutrients that benefit the body in any way, and if eaten too often, they can cause harm to the body.
- Five Food Groups Each Day: The Healthy Way
- Choose My Plate: Nutrition Games
- Nutrition Exploration
- Milk Matters for Kids!
- Eat Healthy
Healthy snacks are a great way to get a boost of energy throughout the day. Some of the most popular snacks are fruits and vegetables, but a snack does not have to be a piece of fruit of a vegetable. Dairy products such as cheese and yogurt or grains such as crackers and granola bars are great choices. When snacking, it is important to enjoy foods in moderation. Eating too much of one particular snack may limit the amount of food that can be eaten at meals, which usually have a wider variety of vitamins and nutrients.
- Healthy Snacking for Children (PDF)
- Snacks and Sweetened Drinks
- Quick and Healthy Snack Tips
- Healthy, Tasty, and Creative Snacks for Kids (PDF)
- Interactive Healthy Snack Choice Games
Diet and Tooth Decay
Diet plays a large role in tooth decay. Tooth decay is caused when bacteria in the mouth produce an acid that begins to eat away at the teeth. This is usually caused by eating sugary or acidic foods and drinks. If a person brushes their teeth or even rinses out their mouth after drinking a sugary drink, the bacteria does not begin to form and do damage. But when sugary drinks or foods are eaten or sipped very slowly throughout the day, the bacteria grows and can damage the teeth, as it is not consistently being removed through brushing or rinsing. Sugary foods and drinks, such as candy and soda, can still be consumed in moderation, but it is best to eat or drink them quickly and then brush or rinse the mouth to prevent the bacteria from developing in the mouth.
- Tooth Decay in Young Children: You Can Prevent It! (PDF)
- Sip All Day, Get Decay
- How to Prevent Tooth Decay
- What Causes Tooth Decay?
- Facts About Dental Decay
Common Added Sugars
Sugars are frequently added into the foods and drinks that we eat and drink by the people that make them to improve the taste. These sugars can be very harmful to overall health if eaten too frequently and to dental health if teeth are not brushed after eating them. You can easily identify added sugars by checking the ingredients label on a product. Some of the most common added sugars are listed as fructose, sucrose, glucose, high-fructose corn syrup, anhydrous dextrose, and white granulated sugar.
These added sugars are not found in fresh foods such as fruits and vegetables.
- Sugars and Sweeteners
- Re-Think Your Drink: “Be Sugar Savvy” Activities (PDF)
- Sugar 101
- Different Types of Sugars
- Added Sugar: What You Need to Know
Foods That May Harm Dental Health
The worst foods for your teeth often contain types of sugar. Foods such as candy are the worst for teeth, yet things such as coffee and orange juice are also harmful to teeth. These snacks and drinks are generally only harmful if they are consumed too much. If these foods and drinks are consumed only sometimes and the teeth are brushed afterward, there should not be much of an effect on the health of the teeth.
- Snacks That Can Harm Our Teeth
- Top 9 Foods That Damage Your Teeth
- Drinks Destroy Teeth
- Sticky Foods Can Cause Tooth Decay
- Candy and Tooth Decay
Foods That May Benefit Dental Health
Certain foods are actually very helpful to the strength and general health of teeth. Dairy products are some of the most beneficial, as they provide a good source of calcium, which is vital to teeth. Although dairy products are good for dental health, it is still important to remember that teeth should be brushed after eating any kind of meal.
- The Best and Worst Food for Teeth
- What’s On the Menu for Healthy Teeth?
- Dental Hygiene: The Best Foods for Dental Health
- Cut the Sugar, Grab the Milk!
- Minerals and Nutrients Important for Oral Health
Tips to Reduce Your Risk of Cavities
Good oral health begins with a healthy, well-balanced diet, but it does not end there. Teeth are very important to a person’s overall general health, so it is necessary to treat them as well as other body parts are treated. Avoiding activities such as chewing ice and sipping on sugary drinks throughout the day is a great place to start in improving oral health and reducing the risk of cavities and damage to the teeth. Properly brushing the teeth after each meal is the most important way to avoid cavities, but other steps such as flossing and regular dental visits help a great deal and make a huge impact in the fight against tooth decay and cavities.
- Prevent Kid’s Cavities & Tooth Decay
- Common Habits That Harm Your Teeth
- Cavity Prevention Tips (PDF)
- Health Tip: Prevent Cavities
- Taking Care of Your Teeth