Why the Truth about Fish Oil Will Have You Tearing Up

by MikeMeehan 10/6/2016 3:02 PM

Usually, when we say something is fishy, we mean there’s more to it than meets the eye. Or that we smell a tuna sandwich nearby. When it comes to fish oil, there may not be more than meets the eye, but it definitely meets the eye. You’ve probably already heard several of the benefits to popping a fish oil tablet once a day:   Heart health, as fish oil promotes a good blood cholesterol profile Bone health, part of which can include improving joint pain Stroke prevention Wrinkle prevention Hair thickening   Now, you can add eye health to that list. Fish oil contains eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA): omega-3 fatty acids that produce better tears. And tears play an important role in our eye health. Go Ahead, Cry Usually, when we think of tears, we think of emotional tears — the kind caused by pain, grief or watching Brian’s Song. But tears play an even broader role for our vision. Tears keep our eyes wet and nourished. When we blink, tears cover our cornea, ensuring our cornea is always wet and nourished. Tears flush out unwanted substances. During family vacation this summer, did you end up with suntan lotion in your eyes? It probably resulted in you tearing up. Or have you ever touched your eyes after handling a jalapeño? Definitely resulted in tears. Some people, however, don’t have the luxury of readily available tears. These people suffer from dry eye syndrome. Dry Eye Syndrome: The Nemesis of Tears Dry eye syndrome is a common condition in which a person either doesn’t produce enough tears or produces tears that evaporate too quickly. Not only can this be uncomfortable, it can lead to irritation, infection or — worse — future vision problems. Dry eye syndrome is often a result of growing older — it affects about 70 percent of older people — but other culprits could include allergies, or chronic pink eye from tobacco smoke exposure. Although fish oil may not be a cure-all for dry eye syndrome — other treatments like artificial tears may be required — it can certainly facilitate recovery. How much fish oil you take depends on your condition. Generally, 500 mg to 1,000 mg a day is sufficient, though the dosage may be upped depending on dry eye severity. Many grocery stores offer supplements with 1,200-mg to 1,350-mg softgel tablets, so getting the recommended dosage probably won’t be too difficult to find. Celebrate See-food Month This October, to celebrate seafood month, go ahead and give fish oil a try. If you want the benefits of fish oil, but don’t want to take a softgel tablet, you can grill it in your diet. At least three times a week, schedule grilled salmon, tuna, halibut or cod. If none of those options sound good, you have tons of fish to choose from. It just might leave you crying tears of joy.

Bad Beans: Why Coffee Can Hurt Your Smile (and What You Can Do About It)

by MikeMeehan 9/29/2016 3:56 PM

Each morning, entering the office, I fetch my “Good health starts here” travel mug and pour myself some coffee. To me, the habit isn’t entirely out of choice — read: excruciating caffeine withdrawals otherwise — but the antioxidants and beneficial nutrients in coffee are certainly a perk. The benefits to drinking coffee are many. Coffee can: Improve brain function and heart health Boost metabolism Lower risk for diabetes, dementia, cirrhosis, Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease Be a good source of nutrients like riboflavin, pantothenic acid, manganese, potassium, magnesium and niacin Provide antioxidants like hyrdocinnamic acid and polyphenol (In fact, one study listed coffee as the number one source of antioxidants in the U.S. diet.) Unfortunately, coffee and teeth don’t go well together. You might even say coffee has stained its reputation with teeth. Why Coffee Stains Teeth If you were to magnify the tooth — enough to see the enamel — you’d discover a tooth isn’t made up of a single piece of enamel. It’s made up of many enamel rods. And we mean many: One tooth can contain anywhere from 5 million to 12 million enamel rods. On the surface of the tooth, the rods run parallel to one another, but deep down, they wind together. As it pertains to coffee — imagine enamel rods like bristles on a brush, just crystallized (because an enamel rod is a tightly packed mass of hydroxyapatite crystals). Now, imagine coffee seeping between the bristles. That’s kind of what happens with teeth, except it’s the pigment from coffee embedding itself in the rows of enamel rods. The pigment is responsible for the discoloration. And, unfortunately, the bad news doesn’t stop there. More Bad News If you prefer your coffee hot, you aren’t doing yourself any favors. Hot drinks tend to discolor enamel over time, as the temperature changes cause teeth to expand and contract slightly. This can make it easier for dark stains to penetrate between enamel rods. And no, it doesn’t help if you’ve lightened the color of the coffee with creamer and sugar; the coffee still contains the same pigments. Stains don’t just apply to coffee, either. For example, tea, red wine and soda can also stain teeth. In fact, some tea — like green and black tea — can stain teeth worse than coffee, because it contains higher amounts of tannins. Tannins are chemical compounds known for having a calming effect, but they also get stuck between enamel rods. So what does this mean for your future with coffee? If you’re like me, giving up coffee isn’t an option — read: excruciating caffeine withdrawals. Luckily, you have some other options. Five steps you can take include: Five Steps You Can Take to Lessen Coffee Stains Drink through a straw. While the amount of sugar in your Starbucks Frappuccino is nothing to smile about, the straw it comes with might be. Drinking through a straw lessens the contact of coffee with your teeth, and can cut down on staining. Rinse your mouth after you drink coffee. By rinsing your mouth out with water, you can neutralize your mouth’s pH levels. You can also use antibacterial mouthwash to loosen up particles on the teeth. Wait 30 minutes before brushing. It’s a good idea to wait 30 minutes after drinking coffee before brushing. Otherwise, you’ll dig acids deeper into your enamel. Have a brushing routine. Brushing and flossing twice a day can cut down on tooth stains. Schedule a professional cleaning once every six months. Your dentist can polish away built up stains, brightening your smile.         Coffee can be hard on the teeth. But it can be even harder to give up. And with September 29 being National Coffee Day, we don’t want to downplay the real benefits of drinking coffee in moderation. So wake up, smell the coffee and take the steps you need to protect your smile.

Six ways to reduce the effects of sport drinks on your teeth

by MikeMeehan 7/22/2016 4:33 PM

Summer is here and that means getting more outdoor exercise like walking, hiking and biking. To quench their thirst, many people turn to sports drinks, but may be unaware of the harm that these beverages can have on teeth. The acid levels of sports drinks can cause damage to teeth by softening tooth enamel and exposing the softer material underneath. When tooth enamel becomes damaged, teeth become more sensitive to hot and cold temperatures, and more vulnerable to cavities and tooth decay. Since tooth enamel can’t be regrown, its loss is irreversible. Sports drinks may be needed to replace electrolytes after long, high intensity workouts, but for light to moderate exercise, water is still the best drink for rehydrating. If you do reach for a sports drink, follow these tips to minimize the effects on your teeth: Dilute with water to reduce concentrated sugar levels Drink out of a straw to minimize contact with teeth Drink in moderation Chew sugar-free gum after drinking to increase saliva flow, which helps return acid levels to normal levels Rinse your mouth with water to keep excess drink from collecting on teeth Wait 30-60 minutes before brushing, since the toothbrush could spread acid around the mouth and cause further damage to teeth These tips will help keep your oral health in shape as you work towards improving your overall physical health through exercise.

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