We believe that diet has a close relationship to health, and we now know that food can be used for preventing chronic diseases. Cancer incidence can be reduced 30% by eating more vegetables and fruits. Such foods are called functional foods (“foods that provide a health benefit beyond basic nutrition”).
Oral diseases, such as caries and gingivitis, can be altered by functional foods. Major oral pathologic bacteria, including Streptococcus mutans and Streptococcus sobrinus, can be reduced by use of certain foods. Such foods are very important in view of the development of antibiotic resistance to most modern antibiotics.
Tea polyphenols have been shown to reduce Streptococcus mutans and prevent the formation of dental plaque. Coffee has been found to have antibacterial activity against Streptococcus mutans, Staphylococcus aureus and Escherichia coli. This activity was not found in green (unroasted) coffee. A number of chemicals have been found which prevent adhesion of bacteria to organ walls and biofilm formation.
A group of foods selected for study in regard to oral health include green tea, black tea, mushrooms, cranberries, raspberries, red chicory and beer. Careful analysis of the chemical components of these foods was made, including carbohydrates, sugars, lipids and proteins. Remarkably, green and black tea leaves have protein content approaching that of animal foods and dry plant foods such as legumes. Most of the studied plants were low in protein and high in water content. (High water content foods have a short shelf life.)
Green and black teas are rich in fluorides offering protection from dental caries. The following minerals and chemicals are beneficial in preventing and treating caries. Teas are good sources of zinc (Zn), strontium (Sr), boron (B) and copper (Cu). Zn has antimicrobial activity. Sr strengthens the structure of teeth. Raspberry contains good amounts of Zn, Sr, B, and Cu. Red chicory contains B. Mushrooms are rich in F, Zn, Sr, B, and Cu. Beer is rich in F, Zn, and Se. Green and black tea, cranberry juice and beer are rich in polyphenols.
Microbial testing showed the best potential against infectious oral disease is found in mushrooms, red chicory and raspberry extracts.
CONCLUSION: Tea leaves are found to be very rich in minerals and, notably, rich in fluorides. Red chicory, raspberry, and mushrooms are high in zinc which has antibiotic activity. Raspberry is rich in strontium and boron to improve bone structure. Raspberry and mushroom are high in copper. Raspberry, red chicory and mushroom extracts work best against oral bacteria. These chemicals are beneficial in treating dental caries.
NOTE: Adhesion is necessary for bacteria to reproduce in our bodies. For example, bacteria in our bladders must adhere to the bladder wall to reproduce. Bacteria in our bodies form biofilms which protect them from antibiotics.
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