Probiotics and prebiotics are growing in popularity as easy ways to improve your health. A probiotic is a living microorganism that benefits the gut flora, while a prebiotic is a compound found in certain foods that encourage probiotics to grow.
A recent study on probiotics found that these microorganisms can help oral health by turning the nitrates found in vegetables into compounds that are beneficial to oral health. This means when you reach for a carrot or kale, you can actually improve your teeth. How? Well, according to the study, published in two medical journals, Frontiers in Microbiology and Scientific Reports, these nitrates reduce cavity-causing acid, eliminate bad breath, and even reduce gum bleeding.
Nitrates and probiotics also produce nitric oxide, which can lower blood pressure, and even improve athletic performance and kill tumor cells.
Nitrates were also found to decrease the production of lactic acid in the mouth and increased the levels of acid neutralizer ammonium. They also were found to increase the mouth’s pH, which helps reduce the risk of developing cavities. They even were found to reduce the risk of bad breath (halitosis) and periodontal disease, too!
Authors of the study suggest that nitrate be used as a way to treat teeth in both probiotic and prebiotic form, either as a supplement or via the consumption of vegetables, even though they note that much of the nitrates found in vegetables is swallowed. Still, they estimate that 80 percent of the nitrates we consume are consumed via vegetable consumption.
Researchers plan to market nitrates to manufacturers to be used in products to treat teeth or as supplements to benefit teeth. So for now, how can you benefit from the amazing power of nitrates? Easily, say scientists. Just eat your veggies. Experts recommend five servings of vegetables a day already, so hopefully, you are already consuming an adequate amount, to begin with, but just in case you aren’t, the preventative benefits found in vegetables is one more reason to start. Not sure how to begin? Raw veggies like carrots, kale, peppers, cucumbers, and celery are all great for the teeth and taste great, too. Try to aim for a variety of colors on your plate to benefit from the delicious flavors and health benefits of vegetables, and enjoy!