Published on November 9, 2010

Of fish, nuts and gum disease

We were intrigued to learn last week of a study which posited a connection between fish consumption and the prevention of gum disease.

fishThe research, published in the November Journal of the American Dietetic Association, examined the diets of 182 people over a 5 year period, and found that those who consumed large amounts of fish, nuts and other foods rich in polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) were up to 30% less likely to develop gingivitis and periodontitis than those who did not.

Fatty acids have anti-inflammatory properties, and if consumed regularly and in sufficient quantities can help prevent the inflammation of the gums which characterises gingivitis and periodontitis. Current advice regarding care of the gums focuses on the role of mechanical cleaning and antibiotics in preventing and treating gum disease. The results of the study however suggest that dietary modifications might also play a part.

Commenting on the possible implications of the research, Dr Nigel Carter of the British Dental Health Foundation observed: “Most people suffer from gum disease at some point in their life. What people tend not to realise is that it can actually lead to tooth loss if left untreated, and in this day and age, most people should be able to keep all their teeth for life.

“This study shows that a small and relatively easy change in people’s diet can massively improve the condition of their teeth and gums, which in turn can improve their overall wellbeing.”

So throw a few sardines under the grill- it could make all the difference.

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