Excess sugar in your diet is one of the biggest threats to your oral health. Not only does excess sugar nourish the naturally occurring harmful bacteria that live in your mouth, but consuming too much sugar also contributes to conditions like diabetes that can increase your risk of gum disease and tooth decay. If you’re getting too much sugar in your diet, the team at American Dental believes New Year’s 2024 is your opportunity to make some changes that will benefit your oral health in the long term. We encourage you to make a resolution to cut excess sugar in your diet this year; here are a few tips that can help you:
Drink More Water
A large percentage of the excess sugar in your diet comes from sugary drinks. Soda, sports drinks, energy drinks, sweetened teas, and other beverages contain more sugar than you might think. Even fruit juices – which are considered healthy – can be 11% sugar or more. If you want a simple way to cut sugar from your diet, try switching out any one of these beverages for a glass of refreshing water.
This one may be obvious, but your favorite desserts are usually loaded with sugar. When you have a craving for something sweet, opt for naturally sweet fruit or dark chocolate, which contains significantly less sugar than baked goods, ice cream, and other popular dessert foods.
Check the Nutrition Label on Your Favorite Sauces
Some condiments contain surprisingly high amounts of sugar. Ketchup, for example, is about 29% sugar – even more than ice cream! If you want a simple way to cut sugar from your diet, try moderating your use of ketchup, barbecue sauce, and sriracha. If you need that extra flavor, you can try substituting lower-sugar options like mustard or vinegar-based hot sauces.
Avoid Processed and Canned Foods
The best way to reduce the amount of added sugar in your diet is to choose whole, unprocessed foods. Whole fruit generally contains more beneficial fiber than its canned counterparts, and it won’t come packed in sugary syrup. Processed foods in general will contain more added sugar, so be sure to check the nutrition information on your favorites. If it contains too much sugar, you can substitute something similar or cut it out of your diet entirely.
Switch Up Your Breakfast
Many of us turn to high-sugar foods in the morning. Cereal is one of the worst culprits; some cereals are as much as 88% sugar by weight. Breakfast pastries and bagels can be just as bad. Even homemade breakfast foods are often high in sugar, like pancakes, muffins, and jam. If you want to get the best start every day, choose foods that are high in protein and low in added sugar, like oatmeal, eggs, plain Greek yogurt, and whole grain toast (without the sugary jam).
General Dentistry in Chicago
While cutting excess sugar from your diet is a great way to improve your oral health, it is still crucial that you maintain a robust oral health routine. That includes 2 annual visits to the dentist. For Chicago area residents, American Dental has 8 different locations to serve you. Click the “Make an Appointment” button at the top of this page for a list of our clinics any time you need affordable dental services in River West Chicago or anywhere else in the area!