Are Sports Drinks Destroying Your Teeth and a Risk to Your Health?

sports-drinksSome recent research from the University of Cardiff showed that of the 160 children that responded to their survey 89.4% of them stated that they drank sports drinks with half of them drinking them at least twice a week. These drinks are intended to improve performance and keep athletes hydrated and are not intended to be drank as recreational drinks, especially by young people.

Drinking these drinks has been marketed as being fashionable, trendy and often healthy which has led to a surge in popularity amongst the younger members of our population.

The main reasons for consuming these drinks was attributed to the nice taste (90% of respondents) With 80.4% of respondents purchasing the drinks from local shops. 77.9% of boys came to drink sports drinks during physical activity whilst only 48.6% of girls claimed the same thing however, more girls claim to drink socially, 51.4% compared to 48.5% for boys.

Alarmingly, a study reported in the independent.ie says that 55% of the sports drinks consumed at home rather than during any exercise at all!

The problem is not the sports drinks themselves, the problem is the fact that these drinks are formulated for enhanced exercise performance. The sugar in sports drinks is there to give fast absorption of carbohydrate so that the muscles can run at peak performance. Yet if these drinks are consumed with out the physical exercise then the body is not using the sugar in this way.

Lucozade sport, for example Contains 27 g of sugar or 7 teaspoons worth in a 750 mL bottle. The world health organisation recommends people consume a maximum of 50 g of added sugar per day, meaning one bottle of Lucozade sport is more than 50% of your daily recommended intake.

Obesity expert Dr Donal O’Shea says:

“If you’re a gold medal Olympian who’s burning 6,000 calories a day and can’t eat enough to replace that, maybe a sports drink is okay, but for everyone else they have no benefit,”

The government’s recent launch of their Change4Life campaign of the Sugar Smart app goes a long way to helping children understand how much sugar is contained in various drinks, because this is an app, children find it more interactive and a useful way to scan their favourite drinks to see how much sugar is included.

What are the risks to your dental health of too much sugar?

We’ve written in other blog posts about the effects of too much sugar with regards to diabetes and obesity but there are also risks to your dental health.

Dental decay is caused by the acid excreting from the bacteria in your mouth, these bacteria feed prolifically on the sugar in your diet, the more sugar you have, the more they feed on the more acid they excrete.

In the most part your saliva neutralises this acid but it can only work to a certain degree, too much acid and it attacks your teeth and causes dental decay.

One of the biggest problems is that these bacteria lurk in between your teeth which is notoriously difficult to clean, this is why using an interdental brush or floss is absolutely vital for maintaining your dental health.

Ways to reduce sugar intake

Tt is fairly easy to limit the amount of added sugar that you put on food, more difficult is being aware of the sugar that you don’t know you are eating. It’s important to doublecheck  things like sauces, dressings, cereals plus  prepackaged food like soup and ready meals.

Fizzy drinks contain a huge amount of sugar, a 500 mL bottle of cola contains the equivalent of 17 cubes of sugar. Even  when you drink fruit juice you are still consuming a large amount of additional sugar.

Here are a few additional tips to reduce sugar intake:

  • Consider sweeteners in moderation instead of adding sugar.
  • Remove the temptation of adding sugar by not putting  it on the table in the first place. Remember, syrup and honey also contain sugar, so keep these safely in the cupboard also.
  • Enhance your food with spices instead of sugar, things like ginger, cinnamon or nutmeg can add interesting flavours without adding sugar.
  • Purchase sugarfree drinks or get into the habit of drinking water, perhaps with a slice of lemon or lime to give it a fresh taste.
  • When baking reduce the amount of sugar in the recipe by up to 1/2, often you won’t notice any difference.
  • If you purchase tinned fruit, make sure it is in water or natural juices rather than in syrup.
  • If you like sugary cereal, rather than add sugar, experiment with different fruits such as bananas, cherries, strawberries or dried fruits such as apricots, raisins or cranberries.

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How Can the New Sugar Smart App Help You?

Image Credit: nhs.uk/change4life-beta

 

It seems that, each day, many of us are eating too much sugar.

You may be surprised to discover the amount of sugar you are eating and how quickly the added sugar that many of us consume can build up during the day.

The government are now advising that parents take action by installing a new app onto their smart phone which is able to read the barcodes on many food products giving them a visual representation of the amount of sugar a product contains.

The “sugar smart app”, from Public Health England (PHE), functions by checking bar code scans and revealing total sugar content of the food in either cubes or grams. Authorities hope it can help combat tooth cavities, weight problems and type 2 diabetes and encourage families to select more healthy options with their daily diet.

TOOTH CAVITIES & DENTAL DISEASE

Approximately 46,500 children and young people under 19 were admitted to hospital for a primary diagnosis of dental caries in 2013–14 according to The state of children’s oral health in England report by the Faculty of Dental Surgery – that’s more children than were admitted for tonsillitis.

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As a nation, if we are going to reduce these hospital admissions for young people we need to get dental disease in our kids under control.

tooth decayDental cavities arise when the bacteria in your mouth secrete acid. This acid secretion happens as they digest the sugar in your diet. This acid attacks the hard enamel of your teeth and can continue to penetrate deep into the tooth structure.

If this acid attack is left unchecked then the tooth can become seriously infected.

The only way to stop the dental cavity from continuing to grow is to visit the dentist, have the caries removed and then the hole filled. Advice on a good oral health routine can then be given as well as dietary advice.

It is this acid attack which can be limited if we control the amount of sugar that we have in our diets.

There are however other reasons to limit the amount of sugar.

 

TYPE 2 DIABETES

Chris Askew, Diabetes UK Chief Executive, said:

“Diets that are high in sugar are fuelling the rise in obesity, and in turn the dramatic rise in Type 2 diabetes, a serious health condition that can lead to devastating complications such as blindness, amputations and stroke. This is unlike Type 1 diabetes which cannot be prevented and is not caused by being obese. With the average child consuming three times the recommended daily amount of sugar, the need for action has never been more urgent. The new Sugar Smart app will help parents to understand and take control of their children’s sugar intake.”

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Image Credit: freedigitalphotos.net

PHE states that young people are eating 3X more sugar than is recommended in their new Change4Life marketing campaign. Their research indicates that normally children aged 4 to 10 years of age are consuming 22kg of added sugar annually. That equates to about 5,500 sugar cubes which is more that the average 5-year old weighs!

It’s all as simple as 3 easy steps:

  1. Get The App
  2. Start Scanning
  3. Reveal The Sugar

HERE’S HOW TO USE THE SUGAR SMART APP

Image Credit: nhs.uk/change4life-beta
  • Download the application through the Apple Store or Google Play.
  • Based on how old you are, your everyday sugar allowance will differ. The application informs you on the maximum you should eat.
  • Select the product that has a barcode.
  • Open the application.
  • Permit the application the use of the digital camera on your phone- a box will appear requesting permission.
  • Line the barcode track up with the red-colored line and wait for a beep. If it’s doesn’t work, you may be trying to scan too close up, so move the camera further away.
  • The application will let you know just how much sugar there is in the product – however the application does not have every food item available yet as it is still in it’s development stage.
  • After that you can share the end result together with your connections on Facebook, Twitter, Google & other social media sites.
  • Clicking the menu button gives you more about sugar content in meals, a scanning history and let’s you go to the app’s website.

If you have children we can highly recommend that they download the app and begins scanning food, this can be a fun way to educate your case about the amount of sugar in food.

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Trinity Dental Centre is a private dentist in North Devon offering free dental health advice via their blog and social media streams.