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Want healthy teeth? Stick to wholegrain carbohydrates

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Posted August 15, 2018

People know that sugar is bad for your teeth – it is a common knowledge at this point. However, it is not enough to read the label and assess the amount of sugar in your food. Some more processed forms of starch can be broken down into sugars in the mouth. That is why a new research, commissioned by WHO, encourages people to stick to whole grain carbohydrates and avoid processed ones.

Products like white bread contain a lot of sugar and starchy carbohydrates that become sugar in your mouth. Image credit: Evan Swigart via Wikimedia (CC BY 2.0)

Food contains some starchy substances – that is just the way we construct our food. These are not good carbohydrates for your general health and you probably knew that by now just from experience. However, scientists long suspected that starch may be bad for your teeth. This new research did not show the correlation between the amount eaten and the risk of cavities. But it became clear that the risk is certainly higher is your diet contains a lot of starch. Scientists reviewed 33 academic papers on starch and oral health and made some interesting recommendations.

You should replace sweet starch with whole grain starches, which offers protection against gum disease. Whole grain starch is not processed as much and thus does not damage your oral health nowhere near as badly as processed sweet starch. Remember that such products as white bread, crackers, biscuits, cakes, pretzels and so on contain the bad kind of starch and wholegrains and legumes – the good one.  These recommendations are a part of continuous effort of WHO to define the optimum carbohydrate consumption for the human body. For now WHO recommends limiting free sugar intake to less than 10 % of total energy (calorie) intake and notes that further reduction to 5 % is beneficial. Free sugars are the ones introduced by the makers of the food as well as the ones present naturally in food like honey, syrups, fruit juices and fruit juice concentrates.

There are a lot of myths concerning carbohydrates in a normal everyday diet. Professor Paula Moynihan, leader of the research, said: “Despite an ill-advised fashion for eliminating carbohydrates from the diet, a carbohydrate-rich diet is shown to be fine for oral health so long as it is low in sugars and is based on whole grain varieties of carbs such as pasta, couscous and wholemeal bread”. The best solution is just to look for wholegrains in the aisle of your local store and limit your sugar intake.

Oral health is more important than you think. It is not the matter of cosmetics – teeth decay has an effect on your heart and the general health of your body. Sugar is bad for you in so many ways you should limit it as much as possible.

 

Source: Newcastle University

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