The Sweet Smell of Decay
Sugar is not your friend. You’ve heard me say it before, and I’ll gladly say it again: sugar is bad for you. I’ll even go out on a limb and call it as I see it: Sugar is downright toxic.
I’m not alone in this assessment of the sweet stuff. Dr. Robert Lustig is a world-renowned pediatric endocrinologist whose work has convinced him that feeding sugar to our children—and ourselves—is making them—and us—sick. Among other books, he’s the author of “Fat Chance—Beating the Odds Against Sugar, Processed Food, Obesity and Disease.” It’s been called a manifesto for our time, sounding the alarm about a toxic substance that’s hiding in plain sight, virtually everywhere you look.
While it’s true that some sugars exists in whole natural foods, it’s in far smaller amounts than we add to foods ourselves. It’s been estimated that in the past two centuries consumption of sugar has risen from about two pounds per year per person, to about 100. For some, it’s probably far more.
The World Health Organization has recommended for decades that people should get just 10% or fewer of their daily calories from sugar in all its forms. And now a new study commissioned by WHO has concluded that tooth decay is closely linked to sugar intake. Teeth are far likelier to stay healthy and cavity-free when sugar in the diet is limited. In fact, the study’s authors recommended a new target of just 5% of calories in the diet from sugars. They believe this further reduction will help people keep their teeth longer, now that people are living longer. Dental caries (tooth decay) is one of the most common diseases in the world, and it’s sharply influenced by sugar consumption.
P. J. Moynihan, S. A. M. Kelly. Effect on Caries of Restricting Sugars Intake: Systematic Review to Inform WHO Guidelines. Journal of Dental Research, 2013; 93 (1): 8 DOI: 10.1177/0022034513508954