The Pros and Cons of a Sugar Detox
There’s no doubt that we eat a lot more sugar than we used to. In 1822, it took five days for a person to consume the amount of added sugar in a typical 12-ounce soda, but modern Americans consume that amount of sugar every 7 hours. There’s also no doubt that sugar consumption contributes to a wide range of adverse health effects, including obesity, diabetes, and, of course, gum disease and tooth decay.
In response to these troubling facts, many people are considering a sugar detox diet: cutting added sugars from their diet completely, not even using sugar substitutes in some cases. Is this right for you? Let’s consider some of the pros and cons of a sugar detox.
PRO: It will Almost Certainly Reduce Risk of Tooth Decay
Increased sugar consumption is part of the reason why, despite the advent of modern dentistry and interventions like water fluoridation, we experience more tooth decay than people did in earlier times (though less than people did about a century ago, when sugar consumption spiked but most people didn’t brush their teeth or see a dentist regularly). Eating foods with fewer added sugars will mean that there’s less food to feed oral bacteria, so you won’t experience as much tooth decay.
CON: You Might Still See Tooth Damage
Your tooth damage from decay will go down, but you might experience as much or more tooth erosion. Tooth erosion occurs when you expose your mouth to acidic foods and drinks, which includes diet sodas. Diet sodas can still strip the enamel from your teeth, and have been compared with meth in terms of tooth damage.
PRO: You Could Lose Weight
The consumption of added sugar accounts for about 500 Calories a day in our diet. Simply cutting out the sugar from your diet could, theoretically, cause you to lose about a pound a week, That’s a pretty significant weight loss potential.
CON: You Could Gain Weight
Unfortunately, many people who go on a sugar detox don’t just cut the sugar out, they add other things in. People find themselves trying to satisfy their sugar cravings in other ways, and may consume proteins, salt, and especially other carbs in their quest to get that sugar high feeling without sugar. As a result, they may consume more calories than before, so they gain weight.
PRO: You Could Learn Healthy Habits
Avoiding added sugar basically means that you will have to make all your own food. That’s good, because it means you can control what goes in your food. In addition to cutting out added sugars, then, you’ll be avoiding added salt, MSG, and other things you don’t want in your diet. You’ll have better control over your portions and can learn what healthy eating really means.
CON: It Can Be Time Consuming and May Lead to Eating Disorders
Of course, cooking all your own food will take up a huge chunk of your day. Many of us just don’t have the time to be cooking that much from scratch. Even if we make most of our meals at home, having so many cooking shortcuts eliminated (such as canned tomato sauce), can be daunting.
The attempt to avoid all sugar can lead to an unhealthy, paranoid attitude toward food. The result can be any number of eating disorders, such as anorexia or bulimia.
A Tough Decision
This is a challenging decision that people have to make for themselves in consultation with their doctors. Whether you decide to go with the sugar detox or not, you will need to continue to make regular dental checkups to make sure you still have good oral health.