10 Tips to Cut Down on Your Sugar Intake

We all should be aware by now that sugar is bad for our teeth.

In spite of this, sugar intake-dependent dental pathologies remain amongst the most common causes of poor oral health related quality of life.  Our dentists keep on sending the same clear, simple message: by reducing the amount of dietary sugar we can reduce damage to our teeth.  Of course this also has added benefits on our general health!
We are all aware of the dangers of over consumption of sugar and yet we often ignore the instructions and warnings.  Here are 10 easy tips to help you cut down on your consumption of the white stuff…

1.Hidden sugar….

When we think of sugar the first thing that comes to mind is the white stuff you stir into your coffee…. However our diets are full of many ‘hidden’ sugars in many of the things we eat. Sugar is described using many different namesand recognising them is the first step to avoiding them. The key suspects on the list are: sucrose, glucose, fructose, maltose, molasses, hydrolysed starch and corn syrup.

2. Breakfast of Champions

Recent evidence has shown that some breakfast cereals contain dangerously high sugar levels (some up to 33% sugar!). Change your high sugar cereal for a lower or no sugar variety, don´t add extra sugar and you will feel a great change in your dental health and your overall health. Switch your sugary breakfasts for protein rich foods and your will feel fuller during the day, helping you avoid unhealthy snacks.

3.Snack time!

It’s 10:30 and you get that urge to snack. It’s a little too far away from lunch and you need something to keep you going. Avoid reaching for that packet of biscuits –  a handful of nuts will provide the energy boost you are looking for. It’s important to remember that it´s not only the quantity of sugar, it’s also the frequency  of sugar intake that matters, so try making the sugar free choice whenever possible.

Frutos secos mixtos al horno
Frutos secos mixtos
CC Flickr

4.Fat free is not equal to sugar free

Many food ítems are advertised as the “healthy choice”, but that may only be half the story. quite often, many products, for example, fat free yogurts can contain high levels of sugars in the form of fructose or refined sugar.

Yogur sin grasa sabor a fresa
Fat-Free Yogurt
CC Flickr

5.Get fresh

When it comes to our teeth fresh whole foods are best, as it all comes down to stickiness. By smashing up a banana and strawberry into a smoothie it releases the sugars which then are able to coat the whole tooth, and the gaps between the teeth.  Eating foods whole helps to avoid this problem. Avoid dried fruits as they really fill in the interproximal gaps, surviving for extended periods of time, giving the sugar a huge amount of time to cause problems.

Comida saludable
Healthy fresh fruits and vegetables CCFlickr

6.Stick to your limits

When it comes to our teeth it’s not only about how much sugar you eat it’s the frequency of sugar intake. It takes about 1 hour for our mouth to return to a neutral state after eating or drinking and every time we have another mouthful that process starts again. Constant picking and snacking can really affect the teeth, so if you do want to eat sugary foods, limit them to mealtimes and give your mouth a break.

7.Get more sleep

Staying up late can be bad news for our oral cavity, as this is all about routine. Late night snacks and the greater likelihood of skipping brushing your teeth before bed combine to create a dangerous situation.

Persona durmiendo
Good sleep is essential for the health of your oral cavity CCFlickr

8.Have breakfast, the most important meal of the day

How many of us have skipped breakfast and then yearn for that sugary fix to get us through the day? This comes down again to giving our mouths a break to recover, have a filling and nutritious breakfast is the best way to start your day of right.

Desayuno equilibrado con huevos
Balanced breakfast CC Flickr

9.Drinking alcohol (can be sugary)…

Alcoholic drinks can account for a significant part of your daily intake of added sugar if you are not careful. It could be that glass of cider, prosecco or even a quick Gin and Tonic, the sugar in them can have a huge impact on our oral health. Try to reduce the amount of alcoholic drinks you have and also have some water together with the alcohol to help wash your mouth out between drinks.

Photocredit: Maarten van Maanen; Flickr

10.Watch out for the sugar in your coffee!

Whether you prefer the Starbucks double chocolate chip crème frappuccino or tiramisu latte with extra whipped cream, or just a standard black coffee, be careful because it could be loaded with sugar. If we do need a coffee and have a sweet tooth try to keep it to meal times.

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