Foods to Eat for Healthy Teeth & Nails

By Rebecca Gawthorne – Dietitian & Nutritionist

We all know that healthy, nutritious foods are good for us. They give us energy, help keep our immune system strong and can prevent a multitude of diseases like diabetes and cancers. But did you know food could improve the way you look?

Especially the look of your teeth and nails!

A nutritious diet promotes healthy nails and teeth. Decaying or discoloured teeth and weak, brittle or chipped nails can be a sign of inadequate intakes of certain nutrients. Protein and minerals like calcium, phosphorus, iron, fluoride and zinc, among other nutrients, are essential for the growth and strength of your nails and pearly whites.

So what are the best, and worst foods, for your teeth and nails? Check out the list below and see what you should be eating and why!

What to Eat for Healthy Teeth & Nails

  • Eat protein rich foods like beans, lentils, nuts, eggs, fish and chicken. Your nails are made out of protein, so if they are brittle and breaking, you may not be eating enough protein-rich foods. Try adding a protein snack between your main meals like a handful of nuts, a boiled egg or a tin of tuna for an extra protein punch.
  • Foods rich in calcium and phosphorous like milk; nuts, soybeans, lentils and seeds are key to healthy nails and teeth. Veggie sources of these two minerals like bok choy, broccoli kale and Chinese cabbage are great options too. These foods help protect tooth enamel by aiding the remineralisation process of teeth. Remineralisation is a natural process by which calcium and phosphorous are deposited back into your teeth enamel to keep your teeth strong and prevent them from chipping or breaking.

Think you need an extra hit of calcium and phosphorus in your day? Try adding a handful of seeds like pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, sesame seeds, flaxseeds or chia seeds to your morning muesli bowl.

  • Foods rich in minerals including iron, zinc and biotin are needed for strong, un-breakable nails. Excellent food sources of these minerals include beans, bananas, broccoli, cauliflower, eggs, lentils, Brazil nuts and salmon. Try making a salmon stir fry with broccoli and cauliflower and serving it on a bed of lentils for the perfect combo of these nutrients.
  • Crisp and crunchy fruits and vegetables like apples, pears and celery are perfect for healthy teeth. These foods have a high water content, which dilutes the effects of sugars on teeth. When eaten raw, crisp fruit and veg also stimulate the flow of salvia in your mouth, which helps protect against tooth decay by washing away food particles and buffering against acid. An excellent snack is sliced raw apple and celery dipped in hummus or homemade nut butter.
  • Whilst technically not a food, water is important for keeping nails and cuticles hydrated. It is also essential to prevent tooth decay. Water helps wash away acids and sugars that can destroy your teeth enamel. It also strengthens your chomps by proving fluoride. Always choose plain, non-bubbly water as carbonated water can damage your teeth enamel. Drink up!

In addition to the foods above that are essential for healthy teeth and nails, there are also foods that should be limited or avoided, particularly for your teeth health. Soft drinks, energy drinks and other carbonated drinks like soda water and mineral water are big no-no’s for teeth. The acids in these drinks destroy your enamel and then the sugars cause painful tooth decay. Other highly refined, sugary, processed foods like lollies, biscuits and chocolate also cause your teeth to decay, so it’s best to limit or avoid these.

Lemons, limes, oranges, pineapple, kiwi fruits, tomatoes and fruit juice can also damage your teeth due to their high level of acidity. However these foods are also very healthy and nutritious, packed full of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and fibre. So instead of eliminating these from your diet, it is recommended to simply rinse your mouth out with water after eating these foods. You can also drink fruit juices, lemon water and other acidic drinks through a straw to avoid contact with your teeth.

Take Home Message:

Top 7 Foods for Teeth & Nails – How Many do you do?

The top 7 foods that contain the unique combination of essential nutrients for teeth & nails are:

  • Seeds
  • Beans
  • Lentils
  • Legumes
  • Nuts
  • Leafy greens
  • Water

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