1. My child is aged 8 years old and is used to snacking on biscuits and fruit yo yo’s as well as cereal bars. His orthodontist has asked that we stop snacking on high sugar foods. He has also been advised to stop hard and crunchy foods due to the brace. What are healthy alternatives and why?
At this critical for physiological development age it is imperative to maintain high mineral and vitamin status. The bones are growing at a fast rate and as teeth are an extension of the skeletal system special nutrition must be put in place in order to support overall child’s development preventing any potential nutrient deficiencies. Of course, cereal bars are the easiest way to satisfy a sudden urge of hunger especially if a child is active during the day.
However, commercially produced cereal bars or snacks are very frequently made by inclusion of dried fruits and rancid oils. Dried fruits are a good snack in theory, provided that your child does not need any dental work or support. Dried fruits, however, are also high in sulphites, which are food additives used to preserve dried fruit from spoiling prematurely. A lot of children as well as adults have sulphites sensitivity that is very difficult to detect as it exhibits similar signs as any other known allergy (skin erythema, shortness of breath, skin itching, rash, dizziness, loss of concentration).
Consult a qualified nutritionist if you have eliminated common allergens like wheat and cow’s diary form your child’s nutrition without successful alleviation of the symptoms. Use of unstable oils in commercial snacks production is also very common. Due to their molecular volatility these oils go rancid quicker which ultimately makes their product toxic: toxic fats retard natural flow of blood to the brain and in some instances can lead to loss of cognitive function, dizziness, unexplained fatigue.
The best option is to make snack bars at home by using the highest quality ingredients like traditional oats, coconut oil, vanilla extract etc. These snacks, however, will not have a long shelf life and will not impart major benefits to your child’s overall dental health.
The best food to consume in this case is to incorporate foods rich in Calcium and fat-soluble vitamins A, D and K2. These nutrients work synergistically and drive Calcium molecules that are vital for child’s dental health where it is required most. Foods rich in these nutrients are: eggs, cheese, yoghurt, milk (cows and goats, other plant-based milk do not have the same protein profiles), oily fish (sardines, salmon, cod, mackerel, trout).
- Organic rice cakes with a thin layer of organic grass-fed butter and organic Cheddar/ Emmental cheese, with cucumber slices
- 3% Greek yoghurt (80-100gr) with a handful of low sugar fruit (strawberries, raspberries, blueberries), vanilla extract, 1 table spoon of traditional oats
- Organic corn cakes with salmon or trout pate, with a handful of cherry tomatoes
125ml full fat milk
1 handful of rocket leaves (they won’t detect the taste)
1 handful of ripe strawberries
2 tablespoons of yoghurt (no less than 3% fat)
Blend all ingredients, a reasonable amount of ice can be added to the mix to make it into a Sunday-style drink/dessert.
2. My 11 year old daughter has just started fixed braces and her orthodontist has advised savoury snacks between meals to reduce the sugar and acid attack on the teeth whilst her teeth are being straightened. What types of snacks would you suggest?
The most important food for a child’s dental health is a food high in Calcium and fat-soluble vitamins like Vitamins A, D and K2 – these nutritional compounds work synergistically to support bone and tooth health, boost Calcium absorption, and shuttle Calcium where it needs to go.
Whilst wearing braces, it is important to keep sugar and all foods high in it to a minimum so that sugar molecules do not build up in spaces between teeth and braces. Moreover, it is imperative to make sure that the natural re-mineralisation of teeth post-food ingestion takes place in such vital period of kids life.
The best food known for dental re-mineralisation is cow’s dairy cheese, both soft and hard. Biting into a piece of high quality cheese like Comte, Gauda, Gruyère, Emmental, Tomme, Cheddar just after she had lunch or as a snack helps with stabilising acid-base balance and will help the process of re-building of the enamel that is dependent on Vitamin K2 and Calcium synergy.
Also, Casein molecules of the milk protein will assist in mild enamel cleansing post acidic foods ingestion and will not impart the braces. The next best foods to consume are eggs, particularly egg yoks again due to high content of both Vitamin K2 and Calcium.
- Egg tartine or opened whole-wheat sourdough sandwich with a mix of chopped boiled eggs, yogurt, mustard and seasoning
- Cheese cubes (Emnental, Comte, Cheddar) and a sliced pear OR a handful of cherry tomatoes OR a handful of sugar snap peas
- ‘Carrot Cake mousse’ : 120gr cottage cheese with no less 3% fat blended with shredded carrot and • tea spoon of high quality vanilla extract
- Tzatziki with wholemeal pitta: 3% Greek yoghurt (80gr) mixed with 1/3 grated cucumber, few sprigs of chopped dill and seasoning.
3. My 14 year old son is very sporty and is constantly rehydrating on sports drinks or fruit juices. His Orthodontist tells me that the acid is weakening his adult teeth and may even result in early loss of his adult teeth. What alternatives are there and why are the above no good from a nutritionist’s view?
Increased physical activity requires extra hydration as well as top up of electrolytes – vital sugar and salt compounds required for appropriate muscle contractions, brain activity and osmotic balance within a growing body. Of course, the easiest option is to reach out for fruit juices or even worse, sports drinks, in order to quench thirst.
However, commercially produced concentrated fruit juices have negligent amounts of enzymes (which make juicing and consuming raw fruits and vegetables an integral part of our nutrition) due to the pasteurisation process that kills these enzymes. Sports drinks, I am afraid, are just a chemical storm in a plastic bottle that can potentially lead to ADHD and other cognitive dysfunctions due to overconsumption of artificial sweeteners like Aspartame.
If your child absolutely must have juice then the best option is to make juices at home and consume them within 12 hours window, after that most enzymes will be lost. If you are juicing acidic fruits then dilute the juice 1:1 with high pH mineral water like Volvic, Voss or Icelandic with water pH no less than 8. I always suggest making fruit water as a fun way of hydrating during the day: in a bottle combine chopped strawberries, mint leaves and a couple of cucumber slices and let infuse overnight.
This will alter water’s chemical structure by releasing some of the minerals and vitamins into the water by which slightly altering its hydration factor. The list of combinations of additional fruits, berries, herbs is endless and can be altered to a kid’s personal taste.
If your teenagers still insist on juice then make sure you add some vegetables into the mix by which the fructose content will be diluted with extra chlorophyll and fibre from green vegetables and they will not detect added vegetables:
Teeth-friendly Green Juice
1 green apple
1 handful of spinach
1 red apple
Add 300-500ml mineral water OR 300ml coconut water to the mix
Kamilla Schaffner ND CNM, of mylondonnutritionist.com, is a clinical nutritionist based in Mayfair, London specialising in tailor-made nutritional programmes designed exclusively for private and corporate patients, consulting over 300 patients in the UK, Europe, Far and Middle East since 2012.
Education: Degree in Biomedicine and Clinical Nutrition. She is a regular contributor to Grazia magazine, Glamour magazine, Natural Health magazine, Women’s Fitness magazine, Now magazine, New magazine, Yahoo Beauty. The clinical areas that she covers with specific nutritional programmes are:
- Anti-aging and skin rejuvenation nutrition
- Weightloss and fat reduction
- Stress and anxiety
- Pregnancy and lactation
- Pre- and post- surgery nutrition
- Digestive disorders
- Eating disorders
- Addictions and emotional disorders