You may sometimes read that the modern diet is bad for you, that our exposure to modern staples like processed white flour, margarine, and other processed foods is destroying our health. There is some truth to this, although it is often blown far out of proportion. It’s important to be aware of food allergies so you can avoid foods that might be contributing to poor health, but overall consuming a modern diet isn’t necessarily going to harm you, as long as you moderate your consumption.
One place where we have difficulty moderating our consumption is sugar and sugary foods. These days, people consume more added sugar in a few days than people consumed all year just 150 years ago. This dramatic alteration in our sugar consumption is driving many of our worst health problems, including obesity, diabetes, and their effects on the heart and brain. And it’s the reason why all our modern advances in dentistry can’t keep you from developing cavities, even if you’re brushing, flossing, and making your regular dental checkups.
So if you want to really protect your teeth. You have to do something about your sugar cravings. Here are some tips to help you cut down on your sugar intake.
Eat Less Sugar
This may seem like we’re being facetious, but it’s actually true. If you want to crave less sugar, the first thing to do is to eat less sugar.
As you consume sugar, your body experiences a spike in blood sugar and also gets stimulation as sugar consumption trips the reward center in your brain. Your body comes to depend on this little boost, and when your blood sugar dips again, your body starts craving sugar.
So, whenever you can manage to fight a craving, do it. Over time, you’ll see your cravings diminish. Also cut down on processed foods that may contain high levels of added sugar. Cooking your own food allows you to get flavorful, nutritious food without a lot of added sugar.
Get Good Sleep
A rested body will help you resist sugar cravings. First, if your body has adequate energy reserves, it won’t be looking to boost energy with a sugar fix. The problem gets worse about midafternoon when your body is starting to feel tired through the long day.
Another benefit of getting good sleep is that it increases your willpower. When you don’t get enough sleep, the reward center of your brain gets stronger in its demands, and the conscious decisionmaking part gets weaker in its ability to resist.
If you think you’re getting enough sleep, but you’re not rested in the morning, you should talk to your doctor or a sleep dentist about sleep apnea, which can be robbing you of sleep.
When you’re dehydrated, your body starts sending out all kinds of demand signals to try and get you to drink more water. You might think you’re hungry because your body knows it gets about a quarter of the water it needs from your food, and you might crave sugar because your body knows there’s a lot of liquid in a sweet watermelon, but what your body really needs is water.
So when you start to get a sugar craving, try a glass of water first. This also has the benefit of helping you generate more saliva, which is your body’s antibacterial solution to cavity-causing bacteria.
Remember, part of the reason why your brain is trying to get sugar is that it wants the reward that comes with it. The endorphins released are natural drugs and your body is addicted to them. But there are better ways to get the endorphin release your body wants. One of these is exercise. Instead of reaching for sweets, drop and do some pushups, or do a run around the block.
When your body is stressed, it’s looking for comfort. That could include a release of endorphins,courtesy of a chocolate bar. And when you’re stressed you may have a harder time substituting something like a glass of water or a jog. So make reducing stress a key priority.
We understand this is sometimes easier said than done, but it has many benefits, including reducing TMJ risk, so it’s worth the effort.
A Dentist Who’s Concerned about Your Health
Unfortunately, it’s a lot harder to avoid sugar than it should be. And that means that sometimes you end up with cavities and other effects of sugar. But that’s what we’re here for, to help treat the impacts sugar can have on your oral health, and, therefore, on your overall health.
To learn what makes our holistic dentistry practice good for you, please call 201-343-4044 for an appointment with a River Edge dentist at the River Edge Dental Center for General & Cosmetic Dentistry.