You may have heard that old tale that eating a bit of cheese after a meal helps prevent the formation of dental plaque. Well, it appears that an amino acid found naturally in dairy, meat and fish may well have properties that prevent the accumulation of bacteria that form a “biofilm” around teeth and gums, the leading cause of tooth decay. Tooth decay is becoming a big problem due to our love of soft drinks, as are gingivitis and periodontal disease.
US researchers found that within the proteins of meat, fish and dairy products, the amino acid L-arginine may cause the disintegration of biofilms– they still need to research this further, but if results keep repeating themselves, then L-arginine could become a better way to control dental plaque by replacing some of the active ingredients used currently in dental hygiene products.
However, meat and dairy are not actually the best sources of L-arginine found naturally. Nuts and seeds contain more than three times as much per volume of weight, so rather than eating a piece of cheese, why not try and handful of nuts and seeds instead, and benefit from their essential oils too.
Seb is a writer and blogger of food and nutrition. He holds a bachelors and a masters degree in nutrition science, and has studied sports and exercise nutrition at postgraduate level. He specialises in plant-based nutrition and believes passionately that we can all live with a little less meat.