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Dangerous Diets

February 26th, 2014

Many people resolve to lose weight as the Winter progresses and Spring clothing begins to appear in the stores.  According to a recent study, weight loss was the number 1 new year’s resolution for Americans in 2012 and 2013 with nearly $61 billion spent on weight loss products in 2011.  Products such as juice cleanses, diet drinks, smoothies, and shakes promise an easy way to cut overall calories in a flavorful way and without much effort.
A low calorie, liquid diet is nothing new.  Liquid supplements (remember Metrical from the 1960’s?) have been around for decades and have promised to cleanse the system, promote health and spur weight loss.  Current trends of supplements, juicing and the like continue to hold out the promise of easy safe weight control.  But beware, there are some serious side effects, including dental problems.
Many of the products and drinks are highly acidic and/or contain carbohydrates.  Remember that tooth decay normally occurs when bacteria use the carbohydrates in the diet and produce acids.  These concentrate when not removed and will weaken enamel and exposed root surfaces, eventually creating a hole in the surface that we call a cavity.  When we ingest highly acidic foods or drinks, they will also weaken the tooth surface.  The more frequently the teeth are exposed, the more the potential damage.
One popular drink calls for a mixture of lemon juice, maple syrup, cayenne pepper and water for at least 10 days.  Such a regimen can lead to temperature and chewing sensitivity, and chemical erosion of the root surfaces around the gum line.  This will weaken the teeth over the long term and can lead to the need for extensive dental care.  Some of the mixtures are consumed throughout the day.  Imagine what would happen to your car if you washed it every morning and then drove it through salt water puddles all day long.  The resulting rust would be no surprise to most people.  You need to talk to your dental team when considering one of these programs.
The meal replacement shakes are often high in fermentable carbohydrates and acids.  Every time you consume carbohydrates, the bacteria produce harmful levels of acids for 20 minutes.  If you use these products throughout the day, your teeth never get a break from the acid attack.
And diet sodas are not a good substitute either.  They often contain multiple acids and have a pH level near or below 3.  Remember neutral is 7 and anything below 5.5 harms teeth.  The best hydration for all day long consumption is water.

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