We’ve all been the victims of a conspiracy. That conspiracy by the sugar industry was designed to make us think that fat was the problem in our diet. For more than 50 years, they influenced nutrition research, pointing to fat as the reason for the rising obesity epidemic. All the while, added sugar levels in foods kept rising, and Americans kept eating more and more sugar.
They even influenced cavity research to steer a key 1971 research initiative away from looking at sugar as a cause of tooth decay.
But now that we know about the manipulation, we face a difficult challenge: how can we remove all the sugar from our diet?
The answer may be easier than we think, according to a new guide published by the New York Times. Not only that, the result may be a new diet that we actually enjoy more than the food we used to eat.
Cut Added Sugars
The goal of the diet change is to remove added sugars. These are sugars that are added to foods in the form of sucrose, high fructose corn syrup, honey, and other forms.
The reason why these sugars are bad is that they carry many calories, but don’t come with the things that make us feel full after eating, such as fiber, proteins, and the nutrients our body is hungry for and that draw us to sweet foods in the first place. After all, in nature sweetness was often a reliable guide that fruits were ripe and full of nutrients. But added sugars make it easy to overeat, and these added sugars are also highly accessible for oral bacteria that use them to multiply and produce acids that attack our tooth enamel.
Take It Easy
The guide acknowledges that making diet changes can be hard, so it recommends taking it slowly. Instead of completely changing our diet all at once, we should start by picking a few simple rules (just two or three) to try first, then adding more changes as we become adjusted.
Start the Day Right
One of the changes they propose is to change our breakfast. Many modern breakfast options are loaded with sugar, which can cause many problems. We eat more calories than we should. The food causes us to have blood sugar spikes and crashes. And, on top of it all, the food doesn’t stay with us as long as it should so we get hungry earlier.
There are some grain-based options that are relatively low in sugar, but people should also consider breakfasts that are based on proteins or even vegetables.
Drinks are another place where people consume a lot of sugar and don’t know it. If you drink soda or juice, you are consuming high amounts of sugar. You are also likely drinking unnecessary amounts of sugar if you drink prepared coffee drinks from national chains. These can have more than 20 teaspoons of sugar in a single cup, more than three times the daily recommended consumption of added sugars!
Cut out sugary drinks when you can. Replace sodas with sparkling water (although note that some citrus flavors may be highly acidic) , plain coffee, or plain tea, which has some great benefits for your teeth.
You’d be surprised how much added sugar there is in places where you might not expect it. Especially surprising is how many savory foods are loaded with sugar. Nearly any prepared food could be hiding large amounts of sugar.
Check the labels and find out which brands have the highest sugar content. Skip these for other brands with lower sugar content.
Make It Yourself
When all else fails, cook more of your foods at home. That way you can control everything that goes into your food. This can be time consuming, but it’s also a rewarding journey that can yield benefits for your health beyond your mouth. The more you take control over your food, the better you are going to be able to steer your diet to healthy choices.
You don’t have to give up your delicious dessert when you’re cutting down on your sugar consumption. You won’t completely cut your sugar consumption as long as you’re having an artificially sweetened dessert, but fruit makes a great option for many days.
If you feel like you really need that sugary treat in the evening, portion control is key. The guide recommends revising your mental image of dessert to be comparable to two or three normal Oreo cookies. Desserts larger than that should be rare.
Healthy Mouth, Healthy Body
At Contemporary Dentistry, we recommend a holistic dentistry approach that starts by looking at how your entire lifestyle impacts your oral and overall health. This helps us maintain our minimally invasive approach to dentistry. Making diet changes not only protects your teeth and gums–it can protect your overall health. Not only will you have a beautiful smile, but you’ll have reason to use it.