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Study Finds Healthy Mouth - Healthy Body Relationship

According to a new study appearing in the American Journal of Periodontology, researchers have found a significant correlation between healthy eating and healthy gums. Specifically, those people who were not overweight, consumed a nutritious diet, and regularly exercised with moderate intensity were 40% less likely to suffer from gum disease.

Of the over-12,000 people surveyed, only 3% of the people possessed all three traits (not being overweight, eating a nutritious diet, and exercising regularly), but its interesting to note that as people added more of these traits to their arsenal, their periodontal health improved as well. Those people who possessed two of the traits were 29% less likely to suffer gum disease, and those who possessed only one of the three key traits were 16% less likely to suffer gum disease.

In statistics, there is a saying that goes like this: "Correlation is not necessarily causation." This means that, while the correlation is statistically significant, one must decide whether it is the healthy behavior that is the cause of the healthy mouth, or the healthy mouth the cause of the healthy behavior.

Researchers pointed out that there were a few possible factors contributing to this statistical relationship. Eating healthy foods (such as lots of fresh fruits and vegetables) tends to help scrub the plaque off of teeth before it can turn into tartar, which causes pockets in the gums where bacteria can take root. Also, it has been suggested that the increased circulation that comes from exercise may help to reduce inflammation.

The bottom line is that, whether the mouth is the window into the body or the body is the window into the mouth, it's just one other weapon to help you win the battle of the bulge. One measure of one's self is weight. We can step onto a scale once a day and see if we have gained, lost, or maintained weight in comparison to the previous day.

A scale can be "out of sight, out of mind," but your mouth never leaves you. The health of your teeth and gums, the lack of plaque and debris, and the freshness of your breath can be a constant reminder of the status of your overall health.

There are other dental health-related weight loss tips that you can use in conjunction with this periodontal health study.

1. Brush and floss your teeth immediately following each meal. Doing so will give you a clean mouth and fresh breath and you will be less likely to mess up your clean mouth by snacking on food prior to your next meal.

2. Use a strong, mint-flavored toothpaste, mouthwash, or both. The mint flavor does not mix well with many foods and flavors. Remember the last time you brushed your teeth and then finished off the glass of orange juice before rushing off to work? The very thought of that after-taste is enough to keep you from eating before your next meal.

An executive at the California Dental Association told me several years ago that, in his opinion, the biggest health crisis in this country was related to people not realizing that their oral health was so strongly related to their overall health. This new study seems to confirm his understanding of that relationship. The well-armed warrior will use this knowledge to his or her benefit in order to gain an advantage in fighting the "Battle of the Bulge."


Michael Callen is the author of the Weekly Weightloss Tips Newsletter ( and the Chief Technology Officer for (, an online retailer of dozens of health and wellness products such as conjugated linoleic acid (CLA), r+ alpha lipoic acid (R+ ALA), and green tea extract.


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