Are there things we can we do to keep our teeth in a better state? Yes there are. Here are some tips.
Have you heard of SLS, sodium lauryl sulfate? An ingredient in practically every toothpaste, it is actually a foaming agent which wears away the protective layer which safeguards gums, tongue and everything inside our mouths. Mouth ulcers are only some of the results of this [a].
Triclosan, another common ingredient, is a carcinogenic pesticide which disrupts our hormone system and normal breast development. As well as in toothpaste, it is now found in practically all cleaning products [b].
Though vitamin C in natural form is good for you, beware of taking tablets. In 2012 it was found that chewable vitamin C tablets, vitamin C gums and powdered supplements significantly increase dental erosion. They affect our teeth in the same way that soft drinks and orange juice do: they all contain acid, which dissolves calcium. Pills you swallow, however, are in the clear.
In general, don’t brush your teeth immediately after meals and drinks, especially if they were acidic. Sour foods—citrus fruits, sports drinks, tomatoes, soda (both diet and regular)—can soften tooth enamel “like wet sandstone,” says Howard R. Gamble, past president of the Academy of General Dentistry. Brushing speeds up acid’s effect on your enamel and erodes the layer underneath. He suggests waiting 30 to 60 minutes before you brush [c].
For the same reason, try and cut down on drinks and snacks during the day. After eating, your mouth becomes acidic for roughly 40 minutes. If you snack constantly instead of sticking to regular meal times, your mouth is 60% more acidic. This dramatically increases the chances of tooth decay and gum disease.
What foods are good for your teeth? Milk, eggs, cheese and yoghurt; meat, fish, dark leafy veg; crunchy foods that contain lots of water are all excellent. But please make the milk and the cheese full-fat: see [d]! The fact that this will make you feel full so you will eat less later, is only one of the reasons – see [e].
Sweets and (diet) soft drinks are notorious, but citrus, coffee, wine, and pickles too contain acid. They are best consumed with other food, and don’t brush your teeth straight afterwards! See [f]. However, fermented and cultured foods are in the clear [g].
• When your teeth take turns hurting, when there is decay or discolouration, this can be due to lack of calcium – or of other nutrients which help absorb it, like vitamins D, C, E, K, magnesium and boron [h]. Exercise, too, helps our bodies use the calcium we consume.
• When teeth are just sensitive, you may be lacking vitamin D.
• If your mouth dries out, the bacteria will cause bad breath. A drink of water, or watery veg like cucumber, celery or carrots, helps as well as some fancy mouthwash.
• If you knock out a tooth, don’t rinse it in water or wrap it in a tissue – you’ll kill the fragile cells that can help it survive. Lick it, stick it back into the cavity or, failing that, put it in milk – and see the dentist as fast as you can.
• For inflamed gums, use aloe vera gel – or a leaf from the plant [i].
• For effective toothache remedies, see [j]. Personally I just stick a clove in my mouth!
• Should you brush before bedtime? See [k].
• How to whiten teeth naturally – see [l].
Veg: Brussels’, beet, sprout tops, cabbage, celeriac, celery (with Stilton!), corn salad, Jerusalem artichokes, carrots, salsify, kale, kohlrabi, landcress, leeks, parsnips, pumpkin/squash, rocket, spinach, swede, turnips, winter radish, endive, winter purslane.
Meat: wood pigeon, pheasant, wild duck, goose, grouse, partridge, venison. For (Christmas) game recipes, see http://www.gametoeat.co.uk/.
Fish: coley, megrim, clams, crab, cuttlefish, mussels, oysters, scallops, whiting.
Shallots are traditionally planted on the shortest day. You can still plant garlic. Buy heads from a proper supplier to prevent disease.
If you leave veg in the ground, apply a thick mulch (straw, bracken or newspaper) for protection, and so you can get them out easily.
And check http://www.gardenorganic.org.uk/your-organic-garden-december-and-january?dm_i=4UO,4NFGO,JCJBU,HC8AU,1 for what else to do in the garden in January.
What to do with leftover Christmas wine?
LEEKS in RED SAUCE
4 leeks, 3 tbs olive oil, 240ml red wine, 2-3 tbs water, salt, pepper.
Cut up the leeks quite finely and wash. Place them in a pan that has a well-fitting cover. Add oil and a pinch of salt. Sauté, while stirring, until they just start to brown. Add wine and water. Cover the pan and cook for about 10-15 minutes. Check every so often and add a little more water if needed. When the leeks are tender, take off the lid and if there is still too much liquid, let most of it evaporate, so you just have some sauce left.
LENTIL and SQUASH SOUP for 6.
500g squash, 170g lentils, 1 chopped onion, 1/2 tsp tomato puree, 1 chopped carrot, 1 chopped celery, 60ml dry white wine, 2 tbsp lemon juice, 1 tbsp curry powder, 1 minced garlic clove, 1 bay leaf, 1.3l water.
Peel, deseed and chop squash. Simmer all ingredients until they are tender, stirring occasionally, for 45 mins. Thin the soup with more water if necessary. Season.
CABBAGE, CHEESE and APPLE CASSEROLE for 6.
60g butter, 1 chopped onion, 1 chopped head of cabbage, 3 sliced cooking apples, 1/2 tsp salt, 1/2 tsp pepper, 60ml milk, 1360ml grated cheddar.
Melt butter, add onion, cabbage, apples, salt and pepper and sauté for 10 mins. Add milk and cheese, mix. Pour into dish, cover, bake at 180°C for 30 mins. Uncover and bake for 10 more mins. With cooked potatoes.
Pheasant, beetroot, apples, onion, thyme, bay leaves, salt.
Joint the pheasant, rub in salt, fry till it browns. Add thyme, bay, grated beetroot, sliced apples, sliced onion and some water. Let simmer for about an hour, a big one might need a bit more time.
Turn the pieces every so often and spoon the cooking juice over. Lovely with kale.
QUICK BEET, CARROT AND EGG for one.
1 small beet, 2 small- to medium-sized carrots, garlic cloves, egg, oil.
Grate the beets raw (use cooked ones if you like). Grate the carrots, dice the garlic. Heat water to poach the egg. Sauté the beet for a few mins, then add garlic and grated carrot. Cook 2 more mins, while poaching the egg. Put beet-carrot mix on a plate, top with egg. Add salt, pepper. To fill it out you can add some heated sweetcorn.
SWEDE with BUTTER and STOCK
500g swede, 35g butter, 500ml stock.
Cut swede into 1 cm pieces. Melt butter, add swede. Stir so they get coloured all round: then pour in the stock and bring to te boil. Simmer for 20 mins until you can squash them with a fork. The liquid is then a buttery juice. Season, serve straightaway.
CREAMY PARSNIP AND SQUASH BAKE
500g parsnips, 500g butternut squash, 450ml double cream, 1 small finely chopped onion, thyme, butter, 25g grated mature cheese.
Put cream, onion, and thyme into a pan. Slowly heat to just below boiling point. Remove from heat, leave to cool. Heat oven to 160°C. Butter a dish. Thinly slice the parsnips and the peeled, deseeded squash. Layer both in the dish, put the herby cream on top, scatter with cheese. Bake for 1 hr.
SAUTEED RED CABBAGE
Red cabbage, large onion, olive oil, large cooking apple, cider vinegar, mustard seed, (sugar).
Pull off the outer cabbage leaves and cut off the bottom. Halve, then slice thinly. Chop the onion. Sauté both for 5 minutes. Add 10 ml cider vinegar and the chopped cooking apple. Season the mixture with 1 tsp mustard seed, salt and pepper. Cook for 10-15 more minutes with the lid on, before serving. You may want to add a bit of sugar.
SPICY TOMATO & KALE LINGUINE for 4-5.
450g linguine or other pasta, 250g kale, (weighed after being de-stemmed); ab. 500g tinned tomatoes, butter/oil for sautéing, 6 minced cloves garlic, cayenne or chilli pepper, 80ml good quality extra-virgin olive oil, juice of 1/2-1 lemon, thyme, (black) olives, grated mature cheese, salt, pepper.
Cook pasta al dente in salted water. Drain but keep the water. Chop the kale. Sauté garlic and kale; cook for 1 min., stirring often. Add tomato, salt, red pepper, olives and cook until soft, about 4-5 mins. Add 120ml pasta water and heat thoroughly. Add cooked pasta, oil, lemon juice, thyme, and if needed, some extra cooking water. Season and mix. Put the cheese on the table for people to help themselves.
[c] http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9402E4DE1F3CF931A15756C0A9649D8B63, http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/health/11628311/Top-tips-for-clean-perfect-teeth-some-might-surprise-you.html
[d] Go to http://thoughtforfood-aw.blogspot.co.uk and click on October 2017.
[h] Go to http://thoughtforfood-aw.blogspot.co.uk andclick on March 2013.