Consuming too much sugar can make you sick, but when consumed in moderation, sugar can be extremely beneficial for your mental and physical health. Sugar is a carbohydrate and a quick source of energy for your brain and body. It can also feel soothing and lower stress levels, which is why comfort foods are usually sweet.
Yet we all know some people who seem to crave sweets more than others, even claiming to have a ‘sweet tooth.’ Here’s why we should dismiss these 13 sweet tooth beliefs.
1) “The sweet tooth is real”
There is no such thing as a physical tooth in your mouth that goes rogue and causes you to inhale bags of chocolate. Still, there is evidence that some people have genetic, hormonal and mental factors that make them crave sugar more than others, says dentist, Dr Wesam Shafee. “You’re not crazy if you think you have a sweet tooth,” he says. “We have some scientific evidence that it’s true.”
2) “Your sweet tooth is all in your mind.”
Have you ever noticed how there seem to be two classes of people when it comes to dessert – those who love it and those who don’t? According to a 2018 study published in Cell Reports, the FGF21 gene produces a hormone that can make you more sensitive to insulin fluctuations. This, in turn, makes you seek out sugar more than people without the gene. You can, however, use your mind to help you conquer those sugar cravings.
3) “You can tell if someone has a sweet tooth by looking at them.”
Sugar is one of the top factors associated with obesity, but just because someone is obese doesn’t mean they consume excessive amounts of sugar. According to research, people with the sweet tooth gene are more likely to have lower body fat (although they are also more likely to have high blood pressure).
4) “Sugar-free foods and drinks are safe for teeth.”
No, they’re not. Sugar-free products are often touted as a healthier alternative, but researchers from Melbourne University tested a variety of sugar-free soft drinks, sports drinks and sweets and found that they were highly acidic. “Any food which makes the mouth more acidic can lead to cavities and tooth enamel erosion,” Dr Shafee explains.
5) “All sugar is sweet.”
Think you don’t have a sweet tooth just because you crave pasta, bread, and barbeque instead of confectionery? Not so fast: there is plenty of sugar hidden in many savoury treats, too.
Sugar is a carbohydrate and is found in any carb-laden food, even if it doesn’t taste ‘sweet.’ “Anything that can break down into sugar – and that includes snacks like Goldfish [crackers] and pretzels – can increase cavity and acid erosion risk on the teeth,” says Dr Issac.
6) “Candy and sweets are the worst foods for your teeth.”
Sugar is not the only food that is bad for your teeth. The liquid form of sweets, such as juices, soft drinks, and milk, coats every nook, cranny, and groove of your teeth, so they are the most damaging to your dental health. The combination of sugar and acid found in many soft drinks make them doubly bad for teeth.
7) “Fruit snacks are a better choice than chocolate.”
The fruit snacks that come in single packs are one of the worst offenders for teeth, especially as they’re often given to children as a ‘healthy’ treat. From a dental perspective, any sticky sweet foods – think gummies and toffees – are harmful to the teeth because they cling to the surface.
8) “Sugar-free gum is good for your teeth.”
The artificial sweetener xylitol has been shown to decrease cavity risk. Some popular gums, like Trident, have it as their main ingredient. Chewing xylitol gum may have a small benefit. However, many sugar-free gums use other sweeteners that don’t help and may harm your teeth.
9) “Juice is a healthier way to indulge your sweet tooth than soft drink.”
Drinking sweetened beverages isn’t good for your waistline or oral health, and that isn’t limited to soft drinks. Drinks like fruit juices, lemonade, and Gatorade contain just as much sugar as popular soft drinks and have a similar bad effect on your teeth and your waistline.
10) “It’s better to spread out sweets into small servings over the day”
Is it better to eat a few M&Ms every hour throughout the day or just eat the whole bag at once? Eating the entire serving is healthier for your waistline and teeth. Spreading out the treat increases the amount of time the sugar stays on your teeth, which causes insulin spikes that cause you to crave more sugar.