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​Oral health and weight loss

Posted by James Eacott on

Maintaining a healthy mouth isn’t just about preventing trips to the dentist - the mouth is a great window into your overall health and there’s a major link between oral health and weight loss than goes way beyond the sheer volume of food going in

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With its processed sugars and sweeteners, ordinary sports nutrition isn’t promoting a healthy mouth and will hinder weight loss. Opt instead for natural, whole food ingredients, like those found in Premium Protein

A bit like the gut’s impact on health and athletic performance, oral health is something that’s very easy for us to overlook beyond the basics of brushing and flossing.

But brushing and flossing are deemed almost pointless by some experts if we’re not eating the right foods, and the links to weight gain or weight loss are fascinating.

The science behind oral health and fat loss

Obesity has multiple causes, so we’re not saying it’s all about oral health, but it is a surprisingly key player in the game. There’s a mountain of research identifying the link between oral health and weight gain. If you want to dig deeper here are some great starters to get you going:

  • Clear “positive association between obesity and oral health”, this study states
  • Another research paper concluded a “strong correlation was found to exist between obesity and periodontitis [inflammation of the gums].”
  • One published in the BMC Oral Health journal found a “strong correlation between a small number of teeth and obesity.
  • Another highlighted “a significant association has been proven between oral disease and the incidence of systematic disease.

Why is there a link between oral health and weight loss or weight gain?

It’s all about nutrition, specifically the quality of nutrition. A typical Western diet is dominated by processed foods and simple carbohydrates which turn quickly into glucose within the body.

This all spikes blood sugar levels and triggers insulin release. If not used rapidly, this glucose is stored as fat.

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Wholesome nutrition holds the key to better oral health

Add to this the lethargy – or ‘sugar crash’ – that comes shortly after consuming this stuff which can over time lead to diabetes and it’s easy to see a link between food and obesity.

So how does oral health fit in?

It’s all to do with acidity. The typical Western diet increases the acidity - pH level – of the mouth, specifically the saliva – a primary cause of cavities.

Which is why the mouth provides an excellent insight into overall health. An unhealthy mouth is largely the result of mediocre food choices, which brushing just can’t fix.

Mouth health, fat loss and athletic performance

Science clearly identifies a link between oral health and athletic performance.

A whopping 33% of athletes “experience disrupted training and poor performance as a result of bad oral health”. Research even shows that even with good cleaning habits, ordinary sports nutrition high in sugar and chemicals hinders optimal health and performance.

Increased acidity within the mouth also has the knock-on effect of reducing our ability to burn fat for fuel during endurance events. Double whammy.

Why professional athletes have terrible nutrition

The crux of the problem is that we’re too focused on treating symptoms and not addressing causes.

After filling yet another cavity, dentists adamantly explain to the now dribbling athlete that they must brush and floss more. The athlete, already employing great dental hygiene, leaves the room apathetic.

The dentist is missing the most likely cause: high sugar, heavily processed sports nutrition.

Cut out – or at the very least drastically reduce – the consumption of ordinary sports nutrition and their symptoms would disappear.

You can test the pH of your mouth by purchasing some pH paper (most pharmacies sell them). Use this strip to absorb some moisture from your mouth. Leave it for a minute and compare the colour it turns with a pH chart. A healthy mouth should be slightly alkaline – between 7.4 to 7.6.

33fuel oral health and weight loss - avoid the dentist

Despite brushing and flossing regularly, athletes spend too long here. We can all reduce time in ‘the chair’ by changing what we eat during training and racing

Mouth health and fat loss – it’s all about the food choices you make

It’s simple. As this study from the Central European Journal of Immunology puts it: “Proper food choices are part of preventing or reducing the risk of gum disease”.

There’s no doubt that the food you eat affects health and performance.

The solution is simple: reduce the consumption of simple carbs, high sugar and heavily processed food.

But changing habits is hard, so if you need some tips on how to make lasting changes, I’d encourage you to listen to this podcast with record breaking cyclist and environmental psychologist Dr Ian Walker.

Mouth health and fat loss conclusion

What’s undeniably clear is that the health of your mouth is crucial not just to avoid painful experiences in the dentist’s chair, but for a healthy body too.

What’s also immensely clear is that the health of your mouth is almost exclusively dictated by the food you put in it.

Thus, for a healthy mouth and healthy body focus on eating less junk food, sugar and simple carbs and more nutrient dense whole foods.

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