The government’s intention to add tax sugary drinks has led to lively debates in our Glasgow dental practice.
We continue to advise all parents and children on dietary requirements which focus not just on healthy teeth but on their general health.
Natural sugars are of course necessary as part of a balanced diet.
They keep us functioning between meals and snacks, particularly when we are moving around or exercising, can give us quick access to energy. Vegetables and fruit can provide us with unrefined sugar which is fine in moderation.
The dangers of too much fruit between meals and the effects of those sugars and levels of acidity, particularly citrus fruits and grapes, are now well documented.
Talking about sugar and your dental health
Dr Murphy, Principal Dentist at Appletree Dental Care, has some ideas on this.
“My mother and father were very focused on diet when my brother, sister and I were growing up. In the mid-70’s my mum stopped buying sugar and biscuits, focusing on healthy snacks.
By the early 80’s they’d become quite obsessed (in the eyes of three teenagers!).
They chose a diet based on the Swiss Physician Maximillian Bircher-Benner. He advocated much in the way of raw fruit and vegetables, mainly at meal times.
We would commonly have a piece of fruit or a couple of carrots immediately before the three main meals. This is, in actual fact, a great time to consume fruit, since the acidity is countered by other foodstuffs immediately, as well as by an increased saliva flow which is prolonged beyond the consumption of fruit.
My mum and dad added more fish, taking away fried foods and red meat, quite ahead of the curve in regards to the developing Western diet and fast-food culture which exploded in the latter part of the 20th Century.
The lessons which my parents gave us on diet have stuck with me.
Bircher-Benner was also keen to promote exercise as a means to good health. Some of his lessons on sun-bathing and cold showers weren’t exactly embraced – certainly not by us!
His theory that more can be gleaned from the energy of the sun, was quite interesting since there had been little in the way of studies on diet moderation over 100 years ago.
We should conclude that the old adage of everything in moderation is key. The timing of sugar intake is important which is why we recommend that sugar consumption between meals is ill-advised.
It’s my personal view that the Government might have taken a wider view on health versus sugar.
For example, when it comes to sugar and teeth, the protection of teeth through avoiding fizzy drinks as part of a normal diet, would improve dental health far more than just taxing the sugary drinks generally.
They may be attempting to protect some sectors within that industry but as far as I know there wasn’t much of a consultation process in regards to this.”