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Know the facts: Sugar is EVERYWHERE!

August 02, 2017
By Camille M. Jensen, DDS
Park Dental Plymouth Lakes

Sugar and bacteria are two key reasons dentists exist, and we at Park Dental fight battles against these two foes every day.

Sugar is the food that keeps bacteria in our mouths alive. The bacteria thrives off the sweet stuff and damages our teeth and gums in the process. Not to mention all of the other implications to our health such as diabetes, obesity and heart disease.

Sugar has been creeping into the American diet at alarming rates over the past several years. Most people have no idea about the amount of sugar they are consuming. For the average adult, sugar intake is recommended at no more than 25 grams, or 6 teaspoons, a day. When most of us hear this number, we think … “there is no way I’m eating 6 teaspoons of sugar in a day.” But, you’re wrong; the average American consumes 189 grams, or 47 teaspoons, of sugar a day!!

How can this be? Most of us are not snacking on candy and sweets all day, so how are we consuming all that extra sugar? The answer to that question is: sugar is in EVERYTHING.

For example:

  • A 12 ounce can of cola has 35 grams of sugar.
  • A Venti Cinnamon Dolce Latte has 78 grams of sugar.
  • A Grande Vanilla Frappuccino has 64 grams of sugar.
  • A McDonald’s Fruit and Yogurt Parfait has 23 grams of sugar.
  • A McDonald’s Fruit and Maple oatmeal has 32 grams of sugar.
  • A 22-ounce strawberry shake from McDonald’s has 123 grams of sugar.

Sugar is also hiding in many “health foods,” such as cereal, yogurt, granola, fruit juices, energy bars and pasta sauces.

So at this point, you are probably asking, “what can I eat/drink?” The key to this and the best answer I can give is to be aware of what you are consuming. Most processed food has sugar. If you buy it in a package or eat it at a restaurant, it is going to have sugar.

Try to eat whole foods, natural foods with minimal packaging and processing, and you will easily avoid added sugar. Watch what you drink, too.  Water is the best hydrator and as an added bonus, it’s sugar free! Stick to unsweetened teas and coffee if you need caffeine. But most of all, read labels! This will help you make good choices about what you put into your body.

And while you are reading those labels, know that sugar has many names. Look for: dextrose, lactose, sucrose, lavulose, fructose, maltose, corn syrup, maple sugar, glucose, turbinado, brown rice syrup, granulated sugar, mannitol, molasses, milk sugar, high fructose corn syrup, sorbitol, honey, xylitol, invert sugar, malitol and evaporated cane juice.

The next time your dentist asks you about sugar intake, really think about it. We are not asking to pass judgment, but to help make you aware of where sugar may be lurking in your diet.

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