It's Sugar Awareness Week!
How much is too much?
Did you know that one can of a typical fizzy drink contains more than your recommended daily intake of added sugar? With Sugar Awareness Week in full swing, we’re looking at ways to reduce sugar intake to improve oral health, while still enjoying a sweet treat from time to time!
Maintaining a healthy balanced diet is as important for your general wellbeing as it is for your dental health. Current guidelines recommend that less than 5% of your daily calorie intake is from free sugar, which is approximately 30g of sugar per day if you’re aged 11 or over.
Reducing the amount of foods and drinks in your diet that are high in sugars, eating them less frequently and consuming them at meal times will all help to protect your teeth from decay caused by sugar.
A sugar by any other name?
It can be daunting when you are trying to change your habits to know where to start. When you are food shopping, start as you mean to go on by looking at food labelling to make informed choices. The nearer sugar is to the beginning of the ingredients list, the more sugar is contained in the product. Also look out for other words which can be used to describe added sugars such as glucose and fructose.
Food labelling can be very confusing. Does ‘no added sugar’ mean it has a low sugar content? If a food is ‘unsweetened’ does it contain any sugar? If you’d like to find out more about food labelling, visit Food Labelling Terms.
How easily can I reduce my sugar intake?
It may seem overwhelming, however reducing sugar intake can be done by making small but significant changes to your habits. Here are our top tips to start reducing your sugar intake from today:
- Swap your sugary, fizzy drink for water or unsweetened fruit juice. If you like a fizzy drink, try adding sparkling water to no-added-sugar squash as an alternative. Encourage children to drink water or milk and avoid them getting the taste for sweet drinks.
- If you add sugar to your tea or coffee, slowly start reducing the amount you add over the course of several days.
- At breakfast time, swap your usual cereal for a lower-sugar or no added sugar option such as porridge made with semi-skimmed milk. If you’re used to a sweeter breakfast option, try adding banana for a healthy option.
- Reducing snacking between meals is a positive step for a healthy diet, reducing sugar intake and protecting your teeth from decay. For healthy snacking options try oat cakes, homemade plain popcorn, plain nuts or fresh fruit.
- Instead of a sugary yoghurt for pudding, swap to a sugar free jelly or plain yoghurt with fresh fruit.
It can be difficult to remember the guidelines when you’re doing your food shopping. For some extra help why not download the Change4Life Food Scanner app?
How can I protect my teeth?
The amount of sugar we eat and when we eat it can have a significant impact on dental health. Every time we eat the low pH, or acidity level, in our mouth leaves teeth vulnerable; acids start to eat away at the protective enamel barrier and cause decay.
It is not always possible or convenient to brush your teeth after eating and drinking. To help to protect your teeth on the go, our hygienists recommend you try chewing sugar free gum. By chewing sugar free gum for around 20 minutes after eating, more saliva is produced which helps to neutralise the acidity and protect teeth from decay.
Interdental products can also be a great on-the-go back up, using Tepe Interdental Brushes or Oral B Super Floss for instance to remove any food that might be lurking after that treat.
Maintaining a good oral hygiene routine as well as introducing some of these tips to reduce your sugar intake, will help to protect your teeth from decay.
For more tailored advice on your oral hygiene, why not arrange an appointment with one of our friendly hygienists. Simply call our reception team on 01428 273179 or book online to make your next appointment.