Sugar Causes More Than Rotten Teeth

Alvin H. Danenberg, DDS Nutritional Periodontist
July 24, 2017 [printfriendly]



Sugar causes more than rotten teethI have written about soda and sugar’s effects on the mouth. Sugar alone is the major cause of tooth decay. However, sugar causes more than rotten teeth. It is the major cause of metabolic syndrome, which is the precursor to many chronic diseases like diabetes, cardiovascular disease (CVD), and non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD).


Metabolic syndrome, as a precursor to many diseases, is the name for a group of risk factors. To be diagnosed with metabolic syndrome, you must have at least three of these risk factors:

  • Large waistline
  • High triglyceride level
  • Low HDL-Cholesterol level
  • High blood pressure
  • High fasting blood sugar


Unique Research

Robert Lustig, MD, and his co-researchers wrote two interesting papers, which were published in 2016. They studied 43 children with obesity and metabolic syndrome. The study lasted 10 days. At the start of the study, researchers recorded the children’s specific parameters for metabolic syndrome while on their normal diet. Over the course of the remaining nine days, the children were given meals to eat, which had all added-sugars removed. Basically, the children ate the same calories including the same protein and fat percentages as their normal diet. However, starchy foods replaced all added-sugar foods . The diet even included unhealthy processed foods, which did not include added-sugars. If the participants’ weight declined during the trial, the researchers increased the amount of food to sustain their weight without adding any sugars. At the end of ten days, the researchers again recorded the measureable markers of metabolic syndrome.


The results demonstrated that every aspect of their metabolic health improved, with no change in weight since weight was controlled. Blood pressure, triglycerides (TG), low-density lipoprotein (LDL), insulin sensitivity and glucose tolerance all improved. All this happened in only nine days by removing added-sugars.


In a further analysis and later publication of this study, there was an improvement in lipoprotein profiles, which indicated a reduction of risk factors for cardiovascular disease. Specifically, there was a reduction in TG, apoB, apoC-II, apoC-III, apoE, and LDL-C. In addition, LDL size increased, small-sized HDL decreased, and the TG/HDL ratio lowered. Once again, these improvements occurred after removing all added-sugars for only nine days!


This study shows that sugar is a major causative factor for metabolic syndrome and cardiovascular risk. The authors stated that this was the first human research project in obese children exhibiting metabolic syndrome that demonstrated that health detriments of sugar, and fructose specifically, were independent of sugar’s caloric value or effects on weight. The takeaway is that all of us can improve our overall health by just removing added-sugars from what we eat.


My Patients

I am concerned with oral health and overall health. Many of my patients want to change their nutrition and lifestyle to improve their overall health and their dental health. For those patients, I first suggest they fill out a 3-Day Food Journal. Their Journal will show them and me the foods they are eating that may be harmful to their bodies. Then, I isolate the most offending foods and suggest substitutions that may be healthier. Processed grains, all added and concentrated sugars, and unhealthy fats and oils are the most offending foods. That’s how I start my education program for all who want to be proactive with their health.


Primal societies eating their traditional diets rarely have dental decay, gum disease, or other chronic diseases. Here is a chart that speaks a thousand words, showing prevalence of dental decay for primal societies who eat their traditional diets compared to those who eat modern diets.



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