A New Year’s Resolution You Can Keep: Cut Out the Sugar

01/26/2017  |
A New Year’s Resolution You Can Keep: Cut Out the SugarJust days ago, countless people resolved to make positive changes in the New Year — for example, eating a better diet or improving their overall health. And while it hasn’t been long since we flipped our calendars, many of us are already struggling to keep those promises. Some resolutions can be difficult to follow through — like pledging to lose a certain number of pounds or follow a strict dietary regimen. Here’s one that’s a little easier: Stop consuming foods and drinks with ingredients that are known to cause serious problems for your health. Can you guess what ingredient is number one on this list? It’s sugar!

Like tobacco and alcohol, sugar affects many different parts of the body. In the mouth, it provides food for the harmful bacteria that cause tooth decay and gum disease — respectively, the largest causes of tooth loss in children and adults. In the bloodstream, excessive sugar is linked to metabolic diseases like diabetes and the troubling epidemic of obesity, and is suspected to play a role in many other ailments.

Over the years, Dear Doctor – Dentistry & Oral Health magazine has run numerous articles from practicing dentists and researchers pointing out the harmful effects of too much sugar in your diet. These effects are seen not only in your mouth, but in all areas of your body. In fact, medical and dental researchers are finding increasing evidence that your body should be viewed as an interconnected system, where the health of one area — oral health, for example — can have a direct impact on other areas, such as the cardiovascular system.

If you’re interested in some eye-opening reading about sugar’s danger to your health, look for the new book by best-selling science writer Gary Taubes. In The Case Against Sugar, Taubes not only sums up recent scientific research, but also traces how some food companies tried to downplay the harmful effects of excessive sugar (much like the tobacco industry did for decades regarding the health effects of smoking).

In his book, Taubes cites the work of Dr. Robert Lustig, a professor and medical researcher at the University of California, San Francisco. His influential book, Fat Chance: Beating the Odds against Sugar, Processed Food, Obesity, and Disease, was published in 2013. The following year, Dr. Lustig also authored a feature article for Dear Doctor magazine entitled The Bitter Truth About Sugar. That article points out how sugar has become an omnipresent ingredient in our foods, how it can harm our health… and what we can do about it.

As we deal with the challenges of the coming year, it’s not hard to understand why some New Year’s resolutions (like running five miles a week or eating kale every day) may go unfulfilled. So here’s a simpler one: Become aware of how much sugar is in the foods you and your family eat and drink every day — and then take steps to control your sugar intake. Like quitting smoking and giving up other harmful habits, it’s one of the best things you can do for your overall health. And if you’re looking for ways to improve your oral health, keep reading Dear Doctor magazine.