In the beginning, humans mainly survived on the plants, berries, and nuts they gathered from the land. Years later, they developed tools that enabled them to hunt for meat. Paleontologists have discovered that around the time we began to hunt, our teeth changed in shape and strength. Do we need to eat meat for strong and healthy teeth? It might be in our genes!
A Little History
How do we know when humans started hunting? Fossils of animal bones show cut marks that were not made by any predator. These bones tell scientists that the marks were made with handmade weapons from hunters. Anthropologists have discovered that humans began to evolve at approximately the same time, leading to much research about the correlation between these two facts.
Nuts and berries are very nutritious, but also very low in calories and fat. Scientists believe that humans were able to develop larger brains, grow stronger bones and teeth, and ultimately live longer thanks to the nutrition and fat from meat. Once humans began to eat meat, this became the preferred dinner option over nuts and berries. Their meals were more satisfying, they felt full longer, and they had higher levels of energy to do more hunting. The complex strands of proteins and fatty acids found in meat are a much more efficient source of fuel, acting as the building blocks your body.
Why is Meat Good for Bones?
These days, we cure and package our meats. Processing our foods in this manner adds sodium, acidity, and preservatives which eat away at the enamel of our teeth. Natural, unprocessed meat is not as acidic, making it less harmful to your mouth. Once it's digested, our bodies metabolize the nutrients it contains. There are many useful micro and macronutrients found in meat, including:
Protein – the foundation for nutrition in our bodies. This substance helps us grow healthy skin, hair, muscles, organs, and yes – bones! Soybeans and other legumes are a good source of protein for those who wish to avoid eating meat.
Calcium – the bone-building mineral. This mineral, which works to help build strong bones, is found plentifully in meat. It is also present in dairy, spinach, turnips, kale, broccoli, and soy.
Vitamin B-12 – the energizer. Helping us produce red blood cells and fight anemia, this helpful molecule, also known as cobalamin, is only found in animal products and biproducts, as well as fungi. These include foodstuffs such as meat, eggs, milk, and cheese. People who don't eat any animal products can get this from eating enriched foods like cereal, by taking a multi-Vitamin, or incorporating mushrooms into their diet.
Iron – the blood-cell fortifier. Another necessary part of creating red blood cells, this ferrous matter binds to hemoglobin and facilitates the transfer of oxygen to bodily tissues. In order for the body to absorb iron, you need to have sufficient Vitamin C in your system. Iron is found in meat, dark leafy green vegetables, beans, peas, lentils, and enriched cereals.
Zinc – the immune strengthener. An essential mineral that aids in healing your body and fighting off diseases, zinc is critical to many physiological functions. This mineral helps with cell division and assists in protein formation. It can be found in nuts, wheat germ, eggs, dairy, whole grains, and legumes, including soy.
Meat is not the only source for healthy hair, skin, and bones. It takes eating a balanced diet full of protein, healthy fat, fiber, vitamins, and minerals. This, coupled with sufficient exercise, adequate hydration, and access to sunlight, allow the body to thrive.
Foods for Strong Teeth and Bones
For strong teeth, it is important to eat a diet that is rich in calcium and Vitamin D. In order for your body to absorb Vitamin D properly, you must get exposure to ultraviolet energy – like that found in sunlight. You don't need a lot of exposure in order for this process to occur. Those living in areas with limited sunlight during certain seasons can also supplement Vitamin D in either drops or pill form.
While sunlight is important, it does have downsides ranging from sunburn to melanoma; so, to avoid these pitfalls, it is helpful to avoid getting too much sun between the hours of 10 AM and 2 PM. Wearing sunblock and clothing doesn't mean that you won't get exposure either. Unlike UVA, UVB rays can penetrate layers, and you only need about 10 minutes a day – just enough to get out for a walk.
Now that you know which nutrients are helpful to eat and how to get the right amount of Vitamin D, let's start cooking! Here is a list of foods rich in calcium, Vitamin D, and protein:
Beef, chicken, turkey, and pork
Salmon, trout, sardines, and tuna
Milk, cheese, eggs, and yogurt
Fortified cereals, whole grains, and wheat germ
Soy milk, soybeans, and other legumes
Calcium-fortified orange juice
Broccoli, spinach, Chinese cabbage, kale, turnips, and bok choy
Avocados, almonds, and peanuts
For adults, and women in particular, it's good to supplement your diet with a calcium pill. There are even options that offer calcium and Vitamin D. This fights aging and osteoporosis, helping to keep your bones strong as you age.
What about Fluoride?
Fluoride is the element that helps fight tooth decay. It occurs naturally in soil, many sources of water, and numerous foods. Most countries do not fluoridate their drinking water, but most areas of Canada do. It is less of a concern to supplement fluoride in our diet when it is added to your water supply. To learn whether your water source is treated with fluoride, contact your local water authority. Even when water is treated, doctors and dentists may still recommend supplementation depending on your personal circumstances.
Be sure to eat a good diet and keep your teeth strong – this way you can keep eating healthy, bone-building foods! If you have further questions about how diet can impact your dental health, speak to the team at Portway Dentist today.