Be careful what you drink!
16 December 2016
In November's Oral Health Month, the New Zealand Dental Association challenged kiwis to switch to water. Fizzy drinks are bad for our teeth as they are concentrated shots of sugar; often supplying us with more than our daily limit for added sugar in a single serve. Constantly sipping on sugary drinks means the teeth are being bathed in sugar, and this is a big contributor to tooth decay in children.
Even diet versions of carbonated drinks are highly acidic, so even though they don't contain sugar they still contribute to dental decay.
Non-fizzy drinks are problematic too. Sports drinks, fruit drinks, energy drinks, iced teas and flavoured waters all contain various amounts of sugar and sipping on any of them still means our teeth are under attack.
Switching to fruit juice is no better. The World health organisation classes fruit juice in the "free sugars" category, meaning it's the same as other added sugars such as table sugar, syrups, honey and fruit concentrate. Even though it's from fruit, the sugar in juice is concentrated, and there can be as much sugar in juice as there is in other types of sugary drinks. The Ministry of Health updated its guidelines last year to say that fruit juice no longer counts as a fruit serve; we're far better off eating whole fruit instead to get our vitamins.
So, the message is; switching to water has benefits beyond oral health. It's cheap or free and it's available everywhere. Water helps us stay hydrated, so our bodily functions work better and we think more clearly. We don't need to be constantly attached to a water bottle - the "eight glasses a day" thing is a bit of a myth - but making water our main drink is definitely a healthy move.