2019 has officially kicked off which means it’s time to stick to those resolutions. Beside hitting the gym at least once a week, perhaps one of popular resolutions is eating less sugar. When considering all the mounds and mounds of research from the last decade, this might not be a bad thing. Gary Taubes, author of the 2017 book, The Case Against Sugar, makes the compelling argument that the rise of sugar consumption in the west coincided with the sudden outbreak of heart disease, diabetes, and obesity that is still prevalent today. Already known to cause weight gain and diabetes, many researches have done an extended amount of work linking sugar to other more harmful conditions.
What’s worse is that even if you’re trying to avoid sugar, it seems to be added into just about everything, including bread, and several low-fat options. It’s also pretty addictive. That’s why for many trying to quit sugar cold-turkey, sugar substitutes like xylitol can help.
Bonus: they’re also good for your teeth!
Why Sugar Is Bad for Your Teeth
Inside your mouth at any given time are around 8 billion bacteria. While many of these bacteria are nice, many are not, including a specific strain known as streptococcus mutans. Although these can help digest simple carbs, they can very quickly overpopulate the mouth when given their favorite food: sugar. These bacteria will attach to teeth and gums, eat sugar, and excrete an acidic byproduct that can eat through tooth enamel and damage gums. Brushing and flossing is generally a good defense against these little guys, as it eliminates their food source, but eliminating sugar is also a great strategy.
How to Cut Sugar from Your Diet
One of the best first steps to cutting sugar starts with eliminating added sugars, which can be found in just about anything. These sneaky sugars are put into the ingredient list of store-bought products as high-fructose corn syrup, honey, maple syrup, and molasses. Avoid eating out and try cooking more meals at home, paying attention to the ingredients you add. The American Heart Association suggests that you eat under 45g of sugar per day, which, if you’re a fan of lattes or soda, may just be one can. If you find eliminating added sugars a difficult first step, trying using products with sugar substitutes.
The Best Sugar Substitutes For Your Teeth
When buying sugar-free products at the grocery store, it’s important to beware. Not all sugar-free products are good for teeth. Look for these three substitutes: xylitol, stevia, and erythritol. Any of these ingredients can be used as a sugar substitute when baking, as well.
- Xylitol is a natural substance found in fibrous produce and trees, like birchwood. With 40 percent few calories, it can help to weed out dangerous bacteria. Xylitol has even been shown to reverse damage done by sugar by enhancing mineralization of enamel.
- Stevia is a plant sweetener with virtually no calories. It’s even been shown to reduce the formation of plaque.
- Erythritol is used as a bulk sweetener to reduce the calories of food, and it naturally occurs in grapes, pears, and melons. The American Dental Association and FDA have even approved the claim that it “does not promote tooth decay.”
But also watch out for acidic flavors and preservatives, which can do the damage oral bacteria would cause if you ate sugars. If you’ve been exhibiting signs of gum disease or tooth decay, it’s time to schedule that appointment.