Is Sugar Bad For You?

Health Trend

A groundbreaking new diet plan promises to transform your smile – and your overall health. Read on to discover more about it…

W e all know sugar is bad for our teeth and many of us Ut have the fillings toprove it! But did you know other aspects of your diet contribute to oral health, too? From a little-known vitamin to changing the balance of bacteria in your mouth and gut, new research shows there’s much you can do to improve your dental health, preventing not just fillings, but more serious conditions as well.Dental disease is rife in the UK. During 2016-2017, dentists in the UK carried out almost 40 million courses of treatment, yet 66 per cent of Brits still have visible plaque (a contributing factor in gum disease) while a third of five-year-olds have signs of tooth decay. And the problem doesn’t stop there. Research shows gum disease is linked to systemic inflammation, an increased risk of heart disease, a greater risk of clogged arteries and the worsening of existing heart conditions. If that wasn’t enough, it can also increase your susceptibility to certain types of stroke, cause lung infections and make it more difficult for diabetics to control their blood sugar. So what can you do to make sure your dental health – and therefore your overall wellbeing – is the best it can be?

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NOT ALL ABOUT SUGAR

Traditionally, dentists believe that, aside from sugar, your teeth are not affected by diet, but Steve Lin, pioneering Australian dentist and author of The Dental Diet Plan (Hay House, £20.50), was so concerned about the state of the nation’s teeth, he decided to research the causes of dental decay, and came up with some interesting conclusions.‘When you get a cavity, it’s more than a sign that you’re consuming toomany sugary foods and drinks,’ he says. ‘It’s a sign that some more important processes in your body aren’t working properly.’ For example, when you eat sugary and white-flour-based foods, you’realso feeding the bacteria in your mouth and, as they metabolise the sugars, they release acids that, over time, pull calcium out of your tooth enamel and cause cavities. An uneven ratio of different types of bacteria in your mouth can worsen the problem.

BALANCİNG BACTERİA

It seems you need to look after the healthy microbes in your mouth in the same way as you should with those in your gut. ‘You need a balance of “good”, slow- metabolising bacteria and “bad” quick- metabolising bacteria in both your mouth and gut for overall health,’ explains Lin. ‘Every meal should feed and replenish healthy microbes in order to keep them thriving and diverse, which keeps the harmful ones from taking over.’And then there’s the vitamin connection. While most dentists don’t think the micronutrients in our diets affect the strength of our teeth, Lin believes certain vitamins are crucial – both for children, whose teeth are still developing, and for adults – and any deficiencies will have an impact. We know vitamin D (found in fatty fish, liver, cheese and egg yolks) helps the body absorb calcium, and vitamin A (from beef liver, carrots, sweet potato and kale) is essential for growth, repair and a healthy immune system. But it’s a little more complicated than that, as Lin explains.‘Vitamins A and D tell our cells to produce certain proteins—osteocalcin and MGP—that help build and repair teeth and bones by taking calcium where it needs to go. But you also need vitamin K2 to help activate the proteins.’ This vitamin is created when animals digest the vitamin K1 found in grass and green leaves. You’ll find vitamin K2 in foods such as shellfish, organ meats, eggs from pasture-raised chickens and butter from grass-fed cows; plus cheeses, including Gouda and Brie and fermented foods, such as sauerkraut.Finally, to keep your jaws healthy, Lin advises eating plenty of hard, fibrous foods such as whole raw vegetables, whole nuts and seeds and meat on the bone.

YOUR AT-A-GLANCE DENTAL DİET PLAN

1//ELMINATE

■ Remove refined rapeseed, sunflower and safflower oil, and replace with coconut, olive oil or coconut, butter or ghee.

■ Eliminate white flour. Remove all grains for two weeks so your body knows what it feels like without them.

■ Limit sugar to six teaspoons a week for a woman, nine for men.

2//BUILD

As well as filling up on foods rich in vitamins A, D and K2 (see main text), support your system with:

■ Magnesium (pumpkin seeds, leafy greens).

■ Zinc (kidney beans, flaxseed).

■ Calcium (dairy, leafy greens).

■ Dietary fat (coconut oil, olive oil).

■ Gelatine (skin, bones).

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Eat to balance your biome

■ Probiotics: Eat two to three doses of fermented foods a day, for example, one spoon of sauerkraut a meal. Other sources include pickled vegetables, kombucha, kimchi, active cultured yoghurt, cheese, butter, kefir, miso, ciders and vinegars.

■ Prebiotics: Have plenty of the foods containing inulin and fructo-oligosaccharide, such as artichokes, asparagus, onions, leeks, bananas, chives, chicory root, dandelion greens and garlic.

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