Most people know that sugar is bad for your teeth, but not many people know why. Your mouth is full of bacteria, there are many that are good for your oral ecosystem and some that are bad. The bad bacteria feeds on sugar, creating acids that destroy the tooth enamel.
We as Britons have a huge intake of sugar every week, an average of 700 grams, which roughly converts into 170 teaspoons. Sugars are added to everyday products in different ways to try and disguise it with other associated words, including:
- Fruit juice
These disguises are found on the nutrition labels of products, anything found with over 22.5 grams per 100ml of sugar is considered as a high sugar content product, where as anything under 5 grams of sugar per 100 grams is considered a low sugar content product. The first step to cutting down on your sugar intake is to knowing how much sugar content is in the products you’re buying.
The most important meal of the day, so let’s make sure we get this right. Many big brand cereal such as Coco Pops, Cheerios and Shreddies have an extremely high sugar content. Try replacing these cereals with substitutes such as Weetabix or porridge. Like to have sugar with your Weetabix or porridge? Try replacing sugar with fruit such as banana or raisins, adding apricots to porridge is also a popular substitute.
More of a toast person? Try avoiding white bread and go for alternatives such as wholemeal or granary as these have a much higher fibre content. Spreads such as jam and chocolate are rich with sugar, use less than you usually would, or try the low fat alternatives. Making these changes could potentially cut out 70 grams of sugar out of your weekly intake.
Many people will drink beverages such as fizzy drinks, cordials and sweetened juices throughout the day, these beverages make up nearly a quarter of the average persons added sugar intake. One 500ml bottle of cola contains around 50 grams of sugar. The recommended daily intake of added sugars is 37.5 grams, so drinks such as these should really be avoided where possible. Sugar free alternatives might be a good idea if you struggle to go cold turkey.
It is an urban myth that a glass of orange juice a day keeps the doctor away, but what they didn’t tell you is that any more than one glass of fruit juice is actually bad for you. Fruit juices are high in sugar content from the sugars released when extracting the juice from the fruit. The recommended volume of juice is 150ml per day, most juices will qualify this volume as 1 of your 5 a day. But be warned, two glasses does not count as 2 of your 5 a day. Many juices are also very acidic, increasing the chance of enamel erosion.
Some people can’t get through the day without something to nibble on, whether it be a chocolate bar, a bag of nuts or mints. Try taking a look for healthier options, many people take to breakfast bars as they look a healthier option but in actual fact these bars still contains high sugar levels. great alternatives to keep you going through the day are:
- Nuts (unsalted)
- Currant bun
- Plain Popcorn
Although we do not consider our main meals to be sweet and sugary, a large amount of them do contain high sugar levels. Foods such as stir-in pasta sauces, ready-made soups and ready -made meals can be higher in sugar content than you may think.
Dolmio tomato and basil pasta sauce contains 7.1 grams of sugar per 100 grams, 1 serving of Heinz tomato soup contains 9.7 grams of sugar and Patak’s Korma curry sauce contains 6.7 grams of sugar. Try making your own sauce, or simply cut down on the amount of ready-made meals you have each week. By cutting down on these meals or trying alternatives you could cut down on up to 12 teaspoons of sugar each week.
Ketchup is the nation’s favourite condiment, complimenting many peoples meals every day. Sauces such as ketchup, salad cream and barbecue are often low in saturated fats but high in sugar. Heinz tomato ketchup contains 22.8 grams of sugar per 100g, so instead of piling it up on your plate, try adding just one or 2 teaspoons to your meal.
Everyone likes to treat themselves, some more occasionally than others. Some like chocolate cake, others like crumble. The fact of the matter is that desserts are meant to be a tasty treat, so instead of trying to rule them out completely, maybe try to cut down on how many times you have dessert each week. Desserts are a treat, so by having them less often they become more of a delicacy, and will most likely be enjoyed more.
If dessert is a ritual and cutting them out of your daily routine is a struggle, try switching your weekly desserts for healthier options such as fruit salad, healthy yoghurts, and low sugar rice puddings. Be careful not to choose canned fruits which contain syrup as these have an extremely high sugar content. Low fat yoghurts also tend to contain more sugar in replacement of the fat content, so be sure to check the nutritional values.
Cutting down on sugar can be done in many ways, and it does not take a huge sacrifice to make a noticeable difference. Whether you take one sugar in your tea, or cut out sugary cereals by cutting down on your sugar intake you can be sure to keep your teeth as pearly white as possible. When you do treat yourself to a sugary treat, remember to drink a glass of water afterwards to neutralise the acids in your mouth to minimise enamel corrosion and cavities.