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Nutrition in Chicago

Posted on March 21st, 2016 by Dr. Nikoo Daftary

One of the absolute most important parts of a healthy smile is a healthy diet. The foods you eat can make or break your teeth—literally! Foods high in sugar leave residue on your teeth that eats away at enamel. Foods that are high in calcium and nutrients help build up your teeth to make them strong. Your diet effects the integrity of your teeth, gums, and even how your breath smells! But eating right can be a challenge, especially in the fast-paced lifestyles we live. Eating right in Chicago, specifically, can be a challenge because of the widespread availability of inexpensive, unhealthy food, as well as the prevalence in several areas of something called food insecurity.
Food insecurity is defined by the USDA as a lack of “consistent access to adequate food limited by a lack of money and other resources at times during the year”. Essentially, it is the risk of hunger felt by entire communities or the lack of quality, nutritious food available in certain geographies. In America, one in seven people face food insecurity. Among households with children, nearly 23% are food-insecure. In Cook County, one in six people battle hunger every year. Food insecurity rates in Chicago reach 50.1% in certain parts of the city.
This means that these people are likely suffering from poor oral health as a result of their poor diets. Some of these people decide between buying food or paying for other expenses like medical or utility bills, rent, or for education. Some of this is due to poverty, and some of it is due to a sheer lack of nutritious options available in certain parts of the city. Much of the data suggests that concentrations of food insecurity is in neighborhoods west and south of downtown and some of the southern suburbs of the city.
There are a variety of programs and organizations that aim to fight hunger in the City of Chicago. Distributing nutritious food to some of these food-insecure areas is paramount to increasing not only oral health, but overall wellness of the residents of these areas. Do your part by donating nutritious foods to food banks such as the Greater Chicago Food Depository. Nonperishable vegetables, for example, are healthy, relatively inexpensive options for donations. To learn more about how you can help, visit the Greater Chicago Food Depository website (link below).
 
Courtesy of the Greater Chicago Food Depository
 

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