4 easy ways to reduce sugar in our diets

reduce sugar benefit oral health

Proper nutrition means eating a well-balanced diet. Our bodies need a variety of foods to give us the best access to the nutrients needed for good health and wellness. And if our diet is low in the essential nutrients that we need, we may succumb more easily to infection in our mouths. But, contrary to the sugary snack attack you might feel first thing in the morning or mid afternoon – sugar is not an essential part of a healthy diet.

Nutrition and oral health

It’s not a secret that poor diet contributes to gum disease and tooth decay. Foods high in sugars, carbohydrates and starches contribute to the production of plaque acids that attack tooth enamel. Over time, these acids can cause tooth enamel to break down, resulting in a cavity.

We know that sugar is bad for our teeth. And we know that those foods that contain sugars of any kind can contribute to tooth decay. Almost all foods, including milk and vegetables, contain some type of sugar, but these foods are a vital part of a healthy diet. As well as small amounts of sugar, they also contain important nutrients so these are not what we should be looking to reduce in our diet.

healthy food

Yet despite manufacturers reducing sugar in commercial food production, the preference among the younger generation for sugar free over ‘full fat’  soft or energy drinks – sugar-related dental problems remain the most widespread cause of poor oral health and disease. And the ‘sugar free diet’ is in danger of being the Atkins of the early millennium – just another diet fad with many enthusiastic fans, but few lifelong converts.

But the message is loud and clear about the benefits to waistlines, oral hygiene and overall health. So, reducing the day-to-day added sugars: the optionals, the extras and the treats, is certainly what we should be striving for. In a world surrounded by treat-food fuelled holidays, tantalising ad campaigns and an increasing abundance of sweet stuffs available in the supermarket – what are the easiest ways to cut sugar? Read on four our top 3 tips:

Have a savoury breakfast

Jamie Oliver brought our attention to the dangerously high levels of sugar in some breakfast cereals. Some of the most well-known brands – and some of the cerals marketed as high fibre and healthy – are more than 25% sugar. SIt’s a no brainer isn’t it that a daily start that avoids this sugar spurt will have a huge impact not only on your dental health, but your wellbeing overall. Filling up at breakfast time with a protein rich breakfast such as eggs is also a great way to avoid a the temptation of sugary snacks throughout the day.

Get fresh

When it comes to our teeth fresh foods in their complete form are best. And when thinking about fruits, this all comes down to stickiness. Just think about the difference between an apple crunched straight from the bowl, and the cooked apple for a crumble or apple sauce. By mashing up a banana and strawberry into a smoothie all the sugars are released. These sugars are then able to coat the whole tooth and reach all the tiny gaps that would be unaccessable were we to eat them whole.. And when it comes to stickiness, dried fruit is a big no-no. This super chewy super sweet stuff can get right in those gaps and stick there – giving the sugar a huge amount of time to cause problems.

Sugar by another name is sugar

And sugar is not only the white stuff we pop in our tea. Sugar goes by lots of different names and knowing what they are – and spotting them in an ingredients list – is the first step to avoiding them. We don’t have the space to list them all here, are way too many but some to look out for are; sucrose, maltose, glucose, fructose, molasses, hydrolysed starch and corn syrup. Take it from us, if a product includes several from the list there are many good reasons to avoid it – not just because of the damage it will do to your teeth!

Coffee, straight up

Our double chocolate iced mocha or our gingerbread latte with extra whipped cream may be delicious… but let’s be honest. With all those extras (that we don’t really need) we know it’s laden with sugar. 

Coffee chains have been scrutinised for building enticing ad campaigns around drinks with a shockingly high calorific value. The emphasis is often on the effects of sugar on our waistlines. But, what about our teeth?

So, i we do need a caffeine fix and have a sweet tooth try to keep it to meal times. Or if you’re tempted by a morning coffee or an afternoon tea, just stick with an Americano or espresso. You might want to steer away from the extra cream – and take it without sugar!

Fat free is not always sugar free

Many products are marketed as a ‘healthy’, but any claims made on the packaging are only part of the story. Often products labelled fat free contain high levels of sugars. And when the lack of fats means a lack of flavour (think yoghurt) there can often be several kinds of sugars or sugar alternatives such as xylitol. If you’re in a hurry then a quick glance at the traffic light system on the label might help you steer towards a healthier, low sugar choice.

Day-to-day habits are hard to change and we know perfect teeth don’t happen overnight – even if we change our diet. To talk to us about scheduling regular hygiene treatments you can always message us on social media or email us.

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