Healthy Alternatives to Sugar

Dentists throughout history have battled sugar in the war on dental health. One of the main culprits for tooth decay, sugar attracts bacteria and combines with plaque to form acid. Eating away at the tooth enamel, acid creates access for bacteria to infect the dentin of the tooth, causing cavities. Tired of toothaches and fillings? Before you cut out all sweets from your diet, consider these healthy alternatives to sugar. Dr. James Fondriest of Lake Forest advises cutting back on sugar where you can and substituting sugar with one of these alternatives.

Xylitol Helps Strengthen Enamel

Xylitol is a naturally occurring substance extracted from the fibers of fruits and vegetables. Xylitol can be extracted from foods like berries, oats, mushrooms, and fibrous substances like corn husks, birch, and sugar cane bagasse. So how is xylitol healthy for your teeth? Xylitol is a non-fermentable substance, meaning that it does not attract bacteria for formation of harmful plaque. Instead, xylitol attracts the bacteria responsible for tooth decay, called streptococcus mutans, and starves the harmful microorganisms.

While xylintol assassinates bacteria, the teeth have an uninterrupted opportunity to benefit from another aspect of the sugar alternative, enamel remineralization. By increasing the mineral strength of the enamel, the tooth has better defenses against plaque and decay. In fact, in a Finnish study in 1970, participants who chewed gum made with xylitol had less than half as many cavities as patients who chewed gum made with sucrose. This amazing sugar substitute is not perfect for all foods. Xylitol also attracts and starves the bacteria necessary for yeast to rise, making xylitol unsuccessful with some baking.

Stevia Reduces Hypertension

Stevia, also called sweetleaf or sugarleaf, is a product of the sunflower family. You may not be able to taste the sugary flavor immediately, but the duration of the sweetness is longer than that of sugar. Stevia is often used to sweeten low-carbohydrate foods because of its negligible effect on blood glucose. Stevia has been known to help reduce hypertension as well as increase sensitivity to insulin in lab rats.

Replacing sugar with one of these substitutes may help you maintain better oral and overall health. Dr. Fondriest also recommends routine dental cleanings and checkups to keep cavities at bay. To schedule an appointment at our Chicago dentist office, contact Lake Forest Dental Arts at (847) 234-0517. We serve patients from Grayslake, Barrington, Lake Forest, Winnetka, Highland Park, North Shore, and Chicago.



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