With summer in full gear, it’s easy to fall into the sugary trap of so-called ‘healthy’ cool-down treats. You’d be surprised at how quickly your sugar consumption can sky rocket as you reach for another slice of refreshing mango (a whopping 13grams of sugar in only 3oz) or another cup of fruit sorbet (roughly 35 grams!). And while it’s always a better choice to go with natural sugars—like you find in fruits and vegetables, it should still be in moderation…because at the end of the day, sugar is still sugar and will cause the same damage to your pearly whites that added sugars—such as corn syrup, fructose, etc.—can do.
It’s no newsflash that too much sugar can lead to cavities and tooth decay, but what you might not know, is how it happens:
When you eat or drink sugars, there is a continuous tug-of-war taking place inside your mouth between the germs (oral bacteria) and the sugars, causing acid to mildly form and attack the outer layer of your teeth—also know as the enamel—and begin to create a hole in them; otherwise know as a cavity. Cavities are a bacterial infection and if left untreated can cause significant damage deep into the layers of the tooth, causing pain and even tooth loss.
The damage the sugar does, depends on the amount that goes into your mouth and stays on your teeth. So if you or your child are constantly sipping juices or indulging in fruit through out the day, and your teeth are being coated with sugar over and over again, it’s a safe bet that those sugars and oral bacteria are mixing and mingling like they were at a cocktail party.
Not sure what’s safe and which to stay clear of? Here’s my list of surprising misses and the alternatives that will satisfy that summer sweet tooth, without making you pay an extra visit to your dental professional.
MISS: Sorbet/Shaved Ice—despite them being dairy and fat free, these cool treats are packed with added sugar, in the form of juices and syrups. 1 scoop of sorbet has over 8 teaspoons of sugar!) Instead, mix together some unsweetened vanilla dairy-free milk, coconut milk, cinnamon and dash of maple syrup, place the mixture into a freezer friendly container and serve after a few hours
MISS: Sports Drinks—there’s nothing better then being active outdoors but you have to also think about replenishing those lost electrolytes. Unfortunately, those famous sports drinks are packed with unnecessary sugar—roughly 34grams in a 20oz bottle! You can easily create your own electrolyte drink by mixing coconut water, a bit of salt, honey and some freshly squeezed juice of your choice of fruit.
MISS: Popsicles/Freezes—kids and adults alike reach for these quick cool-down treats, but despite them being primarily made up of frozen liquid, the added sugars can equal that of a can of pop! A delicious alternative is blending together mashed avocado, pure cocoa powder, non-dairy milk, dash of vanilla extract and agave syrup. Pour into molds and freeze for a few hours.
MISS: Ice Coffee/Frappuccino—you would think an ice coffee/cappuccino would be have the same sugar content as a regular one—after all, the only real difference should the temperature of the drink, right? Wrong. Ice Coffees and Cappuccino’s are one of the sugary items you can have thanks to the added flavours and artificial ingredients they use. One ‘refreshing’ Frappuccino can contain a staggering 102 grams of sugar! Still need to the caffeine kick but without having to drink a scalding hot coffee in 35-degree weather? Try boosting your energy the natural way, with a cup of almond, coconut or hemp milk, ice, green matcha powder, a dash of vanilla extract and a few drops of stevia, maple or agave syrup.
Water, vegetables and (in moderation) fresh fruit are always the best route to go when it comes to dental (and overall) health.
If you begin to notice signs of a cavity or have pain, please consult your dental professional right away.