Sometimes, getting and staying healthy feels like a full-time job. Monitor your food intake carefully, workout regularly, get your sleep, breathe deep, manage stress, get professional checkups, brush and floss – the list goes on and on, and can seem overwhelming.
But the good news is that it doesn’t have to be hard or complicated. Little changes can have a big, positive impact on your health.
For example, substituting just one sugar-sweetened beverage – such as soda, energy drinks, or sweetened coffee – with water can help you reduce or maintain a healthy body weight and improve your overall health, according to a study conducted by a Virginia Tech researcher.
And since sugary drinks can cause or accelerate dental decay, your smile will also benefit.
Swap One Sugar-Sweetened Drink For Water
The 2015 Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend that no more than 10 percent of daily calories come from added sugar and that calorie-free drinks, particularly water, should be favored.
The Virginia Tech study looked at the benefits of swapping just one serving of a sugary drink a day.
“We found that among U.S. adults who consume one serving of sugar-sweetened beverages per day, replacing that drink with water lowered the percent of calories coming from drinks from 17 to 11 percent,” said Virginia Tech’s Kiyah J. Duffey, an adjunct faculty member of human nutrition, foods, and exercise in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences and independent nutrition consultant.
“Regardless of how many servings of sugar-sweetened beverages you consume, replacing even just one serving can be of benefit,” Duffy added. “Even those who consumed more sugary drinks per day could still benefit from water replacement, dropping the amount of calories coming from beverages to less than 25 percent of their daily caloric intake.”
A reduction in the amount of daily calories coming from sugary drinks also improves individual scores on the Healthy Beverage Index – a scoring system designed to help people understand how what they drink impacts their health.
The index suggests:
- At least half of your daily fluid should come from water. For a person who needs 12 cups of fluid a day, that would mean six cups of water. More is fine—up to 100% of your daily beverage needs.
- About one-third (or about three to four cups) can come from unsweetened coffee or tea. If you flavor your coffee or tea with a lot of sugar, cream, or whole milk, then drinking less would help manage weight. If you take a pass on coffee or tea, choose water instead.
- Low-fat milk can make up another 20 percent, or about two 8-ounce glasses. Less is fine, just make sure you get your calcium from another source.
- A small glass (4 ounces) of 100% fruit juice, and no more than 1 to 2 alcoholic drinks for men or no more than 1 for women.
- Ideally, zero “diet” drinks made with artificial sweeteners, but up to 1 to 2 glasses (8 to 16 ounces) a day (this is adapted from the Beverage Guidance Panel’s original recommendation of up to 32 ounces per day).
- Ideally, zero drinks sweetened with sugar or high-fructose corn syrup, but up to a maximum of 8 ounces.
Sugar and Your Teeth
Sugar itself doesn’t rot your teeth – it’s used as fuel by the acid-producing bacteria that live in our mouths. These bacteria love carbohydrates.
Carb-fueled bacteria multiply super-fast, creating an acidic environment in your mouth that weakens teeth and fosters the growth of bacterial plaque. Over time, without proper oral hygiene and dental care, the plaque clinging to teeth works its way under the gums, resulting in oral infections and tooth decay. Bacterial plaque is the primary cause of 90% of all dental disease.
Daily brushing can help control bacteria, but no matter how effectively you brush you won’t be able to completely remove plaque and other dental debris so regular professional cleanings are also essential for oral health.
If you’ve been putting off seeing a dental hygienist due to cost, you’ll be happy to know that there is an affordable alternative to paying out of pocket and pricey insurance: a dental savings plan from :DentalPlans. With a plan, you can save 10%-60% at the dentist.
Visit dentalplans.com or call us at 1-800-238-5163 to find out about how dental savings plans can help make quality dental care affordable.