With repeated warnings from the Australian Dental Association (ADA), and the significant health effects seen in That Sugar Film, many people are alarmed enough at the impact of sugar on health that they are considering going through a sugar detox, cutting added sugars out of their diet completely. There are certainly some benefits to this, but also some potential drawbacks that are important to consider.
Benefits of a Sugar Detox
From our standpoint, the most significant benefit of a sugar detox would be a likely drop in the number of cavities you experience. Although water fluoridation has significantly reduced the amount of decay we see, our sugar consumption is just so high that decay remains common. Cutting down on your added sugar consumption could really drop your tooth decay risk, which means fewer restorations like fillings and crowns.
You might be happiest about the potential weight loss you’d experience. The average Australian consumes about 2000 kJ of sugar each day. Cutting that out could result in the loss of about a kilo of fat every 18 days.
The best possible outcome is that you could learn to permanently change the way you eat, resulting in long-lasting changes to your diet and lifestyle that could make you healthy. Sometimes the side effect of trying to avoid sugar could be that you’re also avoiding salt, MSG, fats, oils, and other ingredients that make take-away unhealthy.
Drawbacks of a Sugar Detox
Unfortunately, things are not all sweet for a sugar detox. You might not see the benefits you expect unless you make appropriate choices. For example, many people experience significant tooth damage even when they’re on a sugar detox because they substitute diet soda for regular soda. Unfortunately, diet soda is just as acidic as regular soda, and can cause almost as much damage–sometimes more because people drink more of it.
Some people even experience weight gain on a sugar detox. That’s because they replace all the joules of sugar with other foods: snacking on salty snacks and other carbs trying to satisfy their sugar cravings. Because they don’t satisfy the same cravings, people end up eating more.
Perhaps the most serious potential consequence of a sugar diet is that it can lead to an unhealthy relationship with food, even an eating disorder. People who spend too much time closely scrutinizing the foods they eat may be setting themselves up for a lifetime of bad habits.
Better than something extreme like a sugar detox is a more gradual approach to cutting sugars out of your diet by focusing on eating a variety of foods that you prepare yourself. This will be healthy for your teeth and for your entire body.