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Warriors in the battle against added sugars 

Governments around the world face a complex challenge in the battle against sugar abuse by the food industry.

The latter insists its consumption is necessary for our body but the truth is that the type of sugar that the body needs are not the added sugars, that is, those that are not found naturally in food, but the glucose. This is responsible for providing energy to brain cells.

Moreover, although glucose is a simple sugar, it is not necessary to eat sweet foods for our body to function properly. Glucose is not only found naturally in many foods such as milk or fruits but all the food we consume ends up being transformed into glucose, mainly carbohydrates. Therefore, a healthy diet and an organism that works as it should is sufficient for our brain to function correctly.

Despite the subterfuges of the food sector and the fact that excess consumption of sugar is a global health problem, there is still hope. The most recent example can be found in Chile. There, the previous Government of Michelle Bachelet imposed in 2014 the Additional Tax on Sweetened Beverages to all those non-alcoholic beve-rages that include colorants, flavours or sweeteners, mainly soft drinks.

The most immediate effect was that the local subsidiaries of this type of drink reduced their amount of sugar below the limit established by the Government; and today, four years later, the consumption of sugary drinks has been reduced by 21.6%, according to a study recently published by the University of Chile.

Another sector that has been at the bottom of the canyon in the fight against excess consumption of sugars added for decades is the dental. The first organ harmed with its abuse are precisely the teeth. And not because of the sugar itself, but because the acids resulting from its fermentation cause cavities.

The figures are alarming. According to the World Health Organisation, between 60 and 90% of school children and almost 100% of adults have dental caries worldwide and, if left untreated, can lead to gum bleeding, periodontal disease , tooth loss, mouth cancer or bacterial infections, among other conditions.

The staff of the Artedental clinic, in Puerto de la Cruz, decisively assesses the influence of diet on oral health.

“Processed sugar, one of the main ingredients in the modern diet, removes minerals from our bones and teeth. This happens because the bacteria that habitually live in our mouth feed on sugars and create acids that wear and weaken the enamel, making the teeth more susceptible to decay and other conditions such as gingivitis, “says the center’s hygienist team. They face daily the effects that sugar abuse causes in the mouth.

A trick that can help weaken its effects is, for example, balance the sweet with other foods.

“Combining sugary products and carbohydrates can reduce the impact of sugar on teeth. It is also convenient to choose those sweets that do not remain long in the mouth. Discard sticky desserts for others that dissolve quickly, which limits their contact with the enamel. Brushing your teeth after consumption is also essential. Bringing the toothbrush wherever you go can save you many later pains. However, it is advisable to wait at least half an hour after eating to do so, as the bristles of the brush could tear the enamel weakened by the sugar. If you do not have a brush, rinse your mouth is very useful to eliminate food and bacteria, “they recommend from Artedental. “However, the best solution if we take into account the entire body, is to reduce their consumption,” they conclude.

The concern about the health of our mouth is a privilege of modern societies. Without concern for caries or gingivitis, the ancestors of homo sapiens instinctively detected that the sweet taste indicated that the food was rich in sugars and, therefore, quick energy.

The current man does not process it because his physical activities are much less intense than those of our predecessors. And because the sugar we consume has little to do with the one that is naturally found in food. This is the problem. The sedentary life and the appetite for sugar, coupled with its excessive presence in processed foods have led to alarming rates of obesity and diabetes in Western societies. Without forgetting the oral affections.

Therefore, those who fight to improve industry and consumer habits must have a real interest in a healthier future society, and not increase their economic benefit.