Many of us hear the term antioxidant over and over again but are not sure what they are, which foods contain them, or how they help our bodies heal.
Antioxidants are compounds that bind to free radicals and neutralize them. Oxidation is the process of aging. Just as when we cut an apple it turns brown as a result of oxygen penetration, our bodies go through oxidation all the time. The human body is an amazing machine and when a cell dies, it get replaced by a new one and so life goes on.
However, a very small percentage (approximately 2%) of our cells don’t repair and turn into free radicals. These molecules are damaged cells that are very unstable. They are missing an electron and are trying desperately to pair with another molecule to fulfill their need. If free radicals did this in a fashion that simply killed the cells they acquired it would not be so bad, however, free radicals don’t kill the cells. They actually damage the cell’s DNA so that this cell is now a precursor to many chronic diseases and cancer.
In today’s world, free radicals have gained momentum due to environmental toxins, the chemicals in our foods, high fat diets, processed foods etc. It is more important than ever to combat these environmental toxins by eating foods high in antioxidants in particular vitamins C and E. Antioxidants bind to free radicals and neutralize them so our cells don’t get sick.
Gum disease is a chronic infection. Not only is it important to mechanically remove the bacteria from our teeth and deep into the gum pockets, it is important to give your body a fighting chance through nutrition. For more information on gum disease and its management see our blog on gum disease.
In the meantime, eat your veggies and fruits. Generally, the darker the color the more dense the food is in its antioxidant capabilities.
Some great examples of these are:
Purple or red or blue grapes
Dark Green veggies
Orange veggies and sweet potatoes
There have been several studies noted in Journal of Periodontology where the results have proven that the people that had high antioxidants in the fluid in the gum pockets had no gum disease where are those with low or no antioxidants in the fluid in their gums had a higher pravalance of gum disease.
Here in our dental office in Escondido California, I have been practicing what I preach for years. I try to grow most of my own food whenever possible and buy organic when I do buy from stores. I juice vegetables almost every morning and eat a diet rich in antioxidants, and try to keep animal proteins to just fish. That doesn’t mean that I never cheat, but when I do, I am hoping that I have given my body what it needs to neutralize the free radicals. The picture is a true depiction of what I do on my days off. I prepare my veggies for the week from my garden so I have no excuse. Did I mention I have chickens? Well, my ladies provide me with delicious organic eggs to enjoy as well. For more information on how to keep your gums healthy, call our office at 760-747-1811. Also check out our new patient promotions!