Did you know that more than 90% of processed and packaged foods contain high-fructose corn syrup? Corn syrup is similar to regular sugar, but it’s cheaper, which makes it a favorite among food manufacturers.
Foods like breakfast cereals, breads, frozen junk foods, salad dressing, sauces, sweetened yogurt, canned foods, soft drinks, and your favorite fast food sandwich or burger all have significantly high amounts of hidden sugar in them, in the form of corn syrup.
These are just a few examples of foods with corn syrup. Almost every packaged, ready-to-eat food item you buy is likely to have corn syrup or similar sugar in it. Here’s a fact that might surprise many people: each tablespoon of corn syrup has about 16 grams of sugar in it. And we haven’t started talking about other types of hidden sugars in foods yet.
How Much Sugar Are You Consuming?
According to research, Americans today are consuming 30% more sugar than we did 30 years ago. To say that sugar has become a problem would be an understatement and one of the reasons that has made diabetes such an issue.
Part of the problem is that sometimes, you don’t even realize you’re consuming that much sugar. People tend to think that since a particular food doesn’t taste sweet, it doesn’t have any sugar in it. That’s completely false.
A seemingly healthy Mediterranean Chicken Salad at an average fast food joint has 18 grams of sugar per serving. The suggested added sugar limit, according to the American Health Association is 36 grams for men and 24 grams for women.
We all know that too much added sugar is bad for our health. In addition to cavities, it can also leads to obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure, cognitive issues, and even cancer. Even if you want to reduce your sugar consumption, there are about 60 compounds used in beverages and foods that are a form of sugar but aren’t identified as such.
These artificial compounds have all the adverse health effects of sugar, however, because of their names, you may end up consuming them in far greater quantities since you don’t know they are just added sugar. If you want to become more aware, take a look at the following list of compounds that are essentially sugar:
- Agave nectar
- Barley malt
- Barbados sugar
- Buttered syrup
- Beet sugar
- Brown rice syrup
- Blackstrap molasses
- Brown sugar
- Cane sugar
- Cane juice crystals
- Castor sugar
- Carob syrup
- Confectioner’s sugar
- Corn syrup solids
- Corn syrup
- Crystalline fructose
- Date sugar
- Demerara sugar
- Diastatic malt
- Evaporated cane juice
- Ethyl maltol
- Florida crystals
- Fruit juice
- Glucose solids
- Golden syrup
- Golden sugar
- Grape sugar
- High-fructose corn syrup
- Invert sugar
- Icing sugar
- Malt syrup
- Maple syrup
- Muscovado sugar
- Organic raw sugar
- Refiner’s syrup
- Raw sugar
- Rice syrup
- Sorghum syrup
- Turbinado sugar
- Yellow sugar
Watch out for these sugar compounds on food labels when buying products and do your best to avoid them. You’ll expect to find added sugars in pies and chocolates, but don’t be surprised to find your favorite “healthy pasta sauce” or barbecue sauce that also contains 12 or more grams of sugar per tablespoon.
How Sugar Affects Your Teeth
Your mouth is home to both good and bad bacteria. When the harmful bacteria in your mouth get exposed to sugar content, they produce acid that gradually starts damaging your teeth. When you consume limited amounts of sugar, your saliva will fight back and neutralize the acidic damage.
However, the saliva will fail to protect your teeth if you are regularly eating sugar in large quantities. Continued acid generation from the bacteria will result in the loss of minerals that are a part of your tooth enamel (which is the outer layer protecting your teeth). Cavity formation will occur as the acid eventually damages the enamel.
Harmful Bacteria in the Mouth Thrive on Sugar
Bad bacteria in your mouth feed on sugar. Excessive sugar consumption will cause the formation of a sticky and hard material called plaque on your teeth. During your routine teeth cleanings, dentists typically remove the plaque from the teeth. When the plaque deposits harden, they won’t be removed simply by brushing. The dental plaque will eventually prove destructive for your tooth enamel.
It should be noted that sugar not only promotes enamel-destroying acids, but also attracts and invites harmful bacteria to make their home in your gum tissue. This eventually causes gum disease called gingivitis, which may gradually deteriorate into periodontal disease if left untreated. Gingivitis and periodontal disease cause gum recession, which happens when the gum shrinks away from the tooth which contributes to tooth loss over time.
Solid and Liquid Sugary Foods Can Damage Your Teeth
Solid foods with a high content of processed sugar will usually leave a stubborn residue that sticks to your teeth. Your saliva is unable to combat this residue. Proper oral hygiene and periodic dental cleanings are vital to eliminate this residue so that it does not cause lasting damage to your teeth. In many cases, excess consumption of solid sugary foods constantly exposes the mouth to the acidic effects that may eventually lead to tooth decay.
You may be surprised to know that sugary beverages are often more damaging to your tooth enamel than solid foods with processed sugars. One of the key ingredients in sugary drinks is corn syrup with high fructose, which creates an invisible film of sticky toxins around your teeth and gum tissue. Bad bacteria thrive on this film, leading to the generation of dissolving acids that ultimately cause tooth decay, cavities, and gum disease. Have you ever noticed how sweet your soda may taste once it goes flat and loses it’s fizz – that is because it is usually full of sugar or sugar substitutes.
Is All Sugar Bad?
Whenever our doctors start talking about the negative impact of sugar on teeth and overall health, there is always at least one person who asks the much-expected question – “if sugar is so bad, how come you want us to eat fruits?”
Here’s why: the health risks come from free sugars and not fruits. And there is a big difference between natural and added sugars.
Sugar in food and drinks comes from sugar molecules that are classified as disaccharides (complex structures like lactose and sucrose) and monosaccharides (single molecules like fructose and glucose).
Fruits contain naturally-occurring sugars, which are a mix of glucose, fructose, and sucrose. Fructose is only harmful when you consume it in excess amounts, i.e., if you are eating 5–10 full-size plates of fresh fruits every day. In other words, it is almost impossible to consume too much fructose (natural sugars) by eating a piece of fresh fruit or two.
On the other hand, you can – and you probably do – consume too much sugar content (free sugars) from processed foods.
“Free sugars” refers to any disaccharides and monosaccharides that have been added to foods by the manufacturer. It also includes natural sugar that are already present in dried fruit, fresh fruits, honey, fruit juices, etc.
Multiple studies have established that the health risks from sugars, like unhealthy weight gain and tooth decay, are related to consuming too much free sugar in the diet – not from eating naturally occurring sugar present in healthy food options like fruits, vegetables, or milk.
This is why it’s recommended that no more than 10% of your daily calorie intake come from free sugars, especially if your goal is to lose weight. This translates to about 50 grams of sugar or one can of a soft drink.
Also, keep in mind that beverages that contain high amounts of free sugars, such as sports drinks, energy drinks, and other sugary drinks are usually high in calories with little to no nutritional value. If you don’t like eating fresh fruits, you may be tempted to drink a glass of fruit juice every day, but remember, it’s not the same.
Plus, drinking sugary drinks is way more harmful for your health than eating sugary foods. One Learn about the dangers of hidden sugars in food and how it can affect your oral health. Get tips on how to protect your teeth from the damage sugar can cause.study reported that drinking one or two sugar-filled beverages every day was linked to a 31% higher risk of cavities in the teeth. Most sodas and sweet beverages contain high fructose corn syrup which coats the mouth in a sticky film that becomes the breeding ground for bad bacteria.
Schedule a Dental Visit Today
At VNA Health Care, we provide family dentistry services to help keep your loved ones’ smiles as healthy and beautiful as possible. We firmly believe in preventive care and offer everything from routine cleanings and x-rays to cavity fillings and oral cancer screenings. In order to stay on top of your oral health, eat foods that are whole and unprocessed, and get a dental checkup every 6 months.
We provide care for everyone – Medicaid, Medicare, insured, and uninsured. We never turn away a patient in need. We are the largest community healthcare provider in suburban Chicago based on the number of people we serve and we have a focus on primary and specialty care for all.