Thousand Oaks, Westlake Village and Agoura Hills, CA
Let’s face it; sugar is addicting! In fact, many studies have concluded that sugar is actually more addicting than drugs such as heroin and cocaine. The more sugar that you consume, the more your body craves it. When we consume sugar, it sparks the production of dopamine – which is a reward chemical that makes our brain crave more, making it even more difficult to cut ties and just be friends with sugar.
Unfortunately, many of us consume far more sugar than we should, which impacts our oral health, and the health of our bodies.
How much sugar are Americans consuming?
Most Americans consume as much as 126 grams of sugar a day as opposed to the recommended 25 grams or 6 teaspoons. As Americans, we consume far more sugar than people in any other country around the world! Most people are fully aware of the harmful health consequences of too much sugar – obesity, diabetes, decline in oral health or worse. Even with those facts, it can be hard to give up the sweet stuff.
You can still consume sugar in moderation but here are ways to cut back on your consumption.
Get in the habit of checking food labels. Sugar is an ingredient in many pre-packaged foods, even ones that don’t taste all that sweet. Sugar is even disguised under 56 different types of sweeteners so read labels carefully! Don’t be fooled by ingredients like agave nectar, lactose, fructose, and glucose, among many others. When in doubt, choose sweet fruits or veggies instead. Not only are they packed with vitamins and nutrients, but also are full of fiber and antioxidants. Watch out for too much refined flour such as bread, rolls, wraps, and the like. We tend to not think of bread as being loaded with sugar, but the body breaks down carbohydrates into sugar, often storing it as fat.
Pay attention to those cravings
Sugar cravings are usually due to a lack of energy, which is also a sign of dehydration. The next time you feel like grabbing a sweet treat to settle your cravings, sip on some water instead. Not only will it hydrate you, but it will help curb your hunger cravings. You may also reconsider what you are eating during your meals or having as a snack. Foods high in carbohydrates will spike your blood sugar, and then leave you hungrier than before. Try consuming more protein and healthy fats to stave off hunger between meals.
Check out alternatives
If you still have a sweet tooth, consider swapping out sugar for healthier alternatives such as Truvia or Stevia. Chewing gum or eating mints and candy that contain Xylitol can also help curb a sugar craving while protecting your teeth against potential tooth decay. It’s a win-win!
Set a goal to limit your sugar intake, you are better off as friends, and your oral health will thank you.
The Connection provides oral health care with a holistic approach for patients in the Agoura Hills and Westlake Village communities of southern California. To schedule an appointment, call (818) 672-5055.