Have you ever had a day when you can’t recall what you did yesterday or last week? What about a time when you had trouble understanding what your boss really wanted you to accomplish on a work project? Did you struggle with learning in school or have your children had difficulty with understanding material that was so simple it, boggled your mind? Now that I have your attention let’s talk about why we eat food or should I say, crave food. One ingredient in almost everything we eat is sugar that’s because almost everything we eat is a processed food. If it wasn’t for sugar in our foods we sure would not crave it because sugar is what makes everything taste better.
We all know that sweet treats, soda, ice cream, carbohydrates like white bread, pasta, crackers, chips, and the liking all contain sugar and that too much of it causes tooth decay and weight gain, right? Surprising enough, many whole wheat and multigrain breads, fruit juices like orange juice, fat free yogurt, condiments like ketchup, salad dressings, and BBQ sauce, and cereal even the so called healthy kind all contain it, if not, more so than all the foods that aren’t low in fat or sugar.
Now that we know why foods taste so yummy, did you know that sugar is also a great source of energy that the cells in our body need and that our brains crave? Critical parts of our body need energy to be productive and sugar supplies just that. The bad news is we consume so much refined sugar in our diet like the foods that I already mentioned, that is brain relies on it or should I say becomes addicted to it like a drug in order to become energized. Too much sugar is harmful to our brain because it decreases our ability to recall information, impairs learning development more so in young children and adolescents, and makes us forgetful. You see, there is a chemical called brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) that our brain produces which aids in our ability to retain information, create new memories, and our learning development. Consuming high amounts of sugar on a daily basis causes the chemical BDNF to become less productive over time which not only affects our learning potential and understanding but is also linked to other diseases like depression, diabetes, dementia, Alzheimer’s disease, and cancer just to name a few.
By now, I hope you’re asking yourself how much sugar is a safe amount to consume on a daily basis. According to the American Heart Association, women should have no more than 20 grams per day, men 36 grams, and children only 12 grams of sugar daily. To make things easier for you four grams of sugar is equal to one teaspoon. So if you’re feeding you or family Fruity Cheerios for breakfast you get nine grams of sugar per serving, that’s almost the maximum daily intake a child should have.
Since many of us have consumed processed foods most of our lives and have allowed our brains to depend on these refined sugars for energy, our brains will retaliate if you want to break the addiction cycle. If you decide to dramatically reduce your sugar intake you will probably experience some headaches, mental haziness, and especially some intense cravings for some refined sugar because your brain thinks that’s what it needs for energy. After several days, these symptoms will subside and your brain will adjust completely after about 12 days.
If you are ready to make the change for your brain and body start eating more raw fruits and vegetables, meat for protein even red meat, and healthy fats like avocados. Changing our diet is difficult especially when it comes to reducing our sugar intake. In making better food choices we must read the labels, calculate our intake of sugar, and perhaps spend a little more money at the grocery store purchasing fresh fruits and vegetables. Decreasing the consumption of sugar in the diet not only decreases tooth decay and weight gain, but greatly improves our learning and thought processes, and serious diseases that can be life threatening over time.
At Paradise Ridge Dentistry we want our patients to have healthy teeth and gums. That’s why we do our best to educate you on what foods to avoid so you can maintain or improve your oral health. So please, choose your food and beverages wisely. Learn more about our practice by clicking here to visit our website.