- By Jessica A. Rickert
It’s June and time to celebrate National Fresh Fruit and Vegetables Month with these colorful and tasty fruits and vegetables. These delicious foods provide a variety of nutrients, vitamins, minerals, and fiber — while remaining naturally low in calories, fat, and sodium. They can also lower your risk of developing certain chronic diseases. Whether you shop at a market or just grow the fruits and veggies at home, enjoy any combination of these delectable delights to kick off your summer right.
The foods that we eat have a direct impact on our overall health, including the health of our teeth and gums. When you maintain a healthy, balanced diet and follow a good daily dental care routine, your body will be strong and robust. So, what are the best foods for our teeth? Here are a few suggestions:
Encourage your family to eat a lot of delicious fruits, especially those with high water content, such as apples, pears, peaches and melons. They are an excellent alternative to sugary and starchy snacks. They’re high in water content, almost 90%, and this ideal hydration dilutes their sugars. Their water content and crunchy texture stimulates saliva; the digestive process starts in the mouth.
Whole fruits are much better for us than fruit juice. Fruit juice is a concentrated source of sugar, and the juicing process can remove the beneficial fiber found in whole fruit.
Use canned fruit packed in water, without added sugar.
Dried fruits don’t have equal nutrition value to fresh fruits. Dried fruits provide lots of fiber and antioxidants. But they can be high in sugar and calories and can stick in the grooves of the teeth.
Blueberries are one of nature’s superfoods – they provide vitamins C & K, manganese, fiber, and antioxidants. Their vibrant color is a good indicator of their nutritional content. Other beneficial berries are strawberries, raspberries, cherries and blackberries.
For fun and healthy treats try these delectable delights - smoothies and popsicles. What’s the correct recipe? Just use whatever ingredients your heart desires. Treat yourself to a snack that has infinite variety. Your children will have fun making them.
Dark, leafy greens provide us with special nutrients like folate, zinc, calcium, iron, magnesium, vitamins, and fiber. These help us build resilient bodies that fight disease and lowers our risks of heart disease and inflammation. Examples are kale, chard, collard greens, and spinach.
Colorful veggies are so good for healthy mouths and bodies. Experts recommend eating at least 5 servings of vegetables a day. Corn, squash, bell peppers, cucumbers and golden beets are all bright, flavorful options with diverse flavors and benefits. Try one, try them all, and find out which are your favorite!
Eating plenty of fruits and vegetables helps reduce the risk of many chronic illnesses, including heart disease, high blood pressure, and some cancers. These foods help you maintain a healthy weight and help you stay energized all day
Diabetes affects 14.6 percent of our Michigan Indian population. This is a metabolic disorder in which the body has high sugar levels for prolonged periods of time. Diabetics have an inadequate production of insulin. Insulin is produced by the pancreas gland. It is important to talk to your doctor and dietician about a diabetic diet. Most tribes have experts to advise individual patients. In general, here are 10 fruits and vegetables for diabetes that are ideal because they pack a slew of health benefits, while helping to regulate your blood sugar.
Berries are an ideal addition to the diabetes diet. These delectable, bite-sized fruits are rich in antioxidants, which help prevent cell damage in the body. In a recent, large study, women who consumed high levels of antioxidant-rich foods such as berries, had a 27% reduction in their diabetes risk. Plus, berries are a great way to satisfy your sweet tooth without resorting to junk-food sweets. Blueberries have been shown to boost the immune system and help fight off bad cholesterol. Cherries contain anthocyanins, which help control blood sugar. They also contain a multitude of nutrients, including vitamins A, C and B, as well as calcium, iron, and fiber.
We’ve all heard that citrus fruits are filled with vitamin C, but the very sweet ones do have a high sugar content. Fortunately, the fiber in these fruits helps to promote satiety, and helps regulate your blood sugar by slowing absorption into the bloodstream.
Fall’s favorite fruit is filled with fiber, especially if you keep the peel on, and vitamin C. Apples also contain chemicals called anthocyanins, which have been shown to boost insulin, and may be protective against diabetes and obesity. Apples, like other fruits, are still a source of carbohydrate, so be sure to include the carbohydrates in your meal plan.
All fruits contain natural sugars, which will have some impact on blood glucose levels. However, fruits also contain abundant nutrients so they should be included in moderation in a diabetes meal plan.
Leafy greens are filled with minerals and omega-3 fatty acids, they help enhance insulin secretion and regulate your blood sugar levels. These greens also regulate the production of hormones that protect against heart attack and stroke. They’re low in calories and carbohydrates too!
Sweet potato: Rich in fiber and vitamins, sweet potatoes are another great vegetable to keep your blood sugar levels on track. They have a low glycemic index (GI), which means they won’t spike your blood sugar levels.
Broccoli: Broccoli is low in calories, filled with antioxidants and packed with high levels of vitamin A and C. This green vegetable is also full of fiber, which will keep you feeling full longer.
Asparagus: It’s filled with vitamins, minerals, fiber and has a low GI index. In fact, one serving of asparagus provides 18% of your daily vitamin C and E. It also contains protein (4-5 grams per cup), which helps stabilize your blood sugar levels and keeps you feeling full.
Red onion: Aside from its antioxidant properties, the red onion is another low-GI index that won’t throw your blood sugar levels out of whack. It contains significant amounts of vitamins C and B6, as well as being a good source of chromium, which is essential to regulating blood sugar, without many calories.
Zucchini: This versatile vegetable is a great option when you have diabetes because it contains vitamin B, zinc, and magnesium, which are key to stabilizing blood sugar levels. Zucchini also contains lutein and zeaxanthin, which are two phytonutrients that promote eye health.
You need strong & healthy teeth and gums to eat these fruits and vegetables. If we Anuishinaabe ate a Pre-Columbian diet, our mouth and entire body would be healthy and strong. The Decolonizing Diet Project was developed at Northern Michigan University by Dr. Martin Reinhardt; foods indigenous to the Great Lakes area were eaten for a full year
Tooth decay is the single most common chronic childhood disease in the US, and researchers have traced it to the increased consumption of junk foods, sugary snacks, carbonated drinks, and sodas among children.
The good news is that tooth decay is nearly 100% preventable. All you have to do is maintain a healthy, balanced diet and follow a good daily dental care routine. Brush twice a day for 2 minutes and floss once a day. Throughout the day, if brushing not convenient, rinse with water for 30-60 seconds.
Our goals are Healthy teeth, Healthy human being., Health tribe, and Healthy Anishinaabe!
Dr. Jessica A. Rickert is a tribal citizen of the Prairie Band Potawatomi Nation. A graduate of the University of Michigan School of Dentistry, in 1975, she became for the first female Native American dentist.
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