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Friday, May 18, 2012 2:32 PM
Sugar, Caffeine and Your Overall Health
Sadly the media reported the premature death of a 30 year old NZ mother who drew worldwide media attention upon the release of a coroners report recently. It raised the issue of excessive consumption of any beverage, as well as the effects of a substance with high levels of sugar and added caffeine. Too much fructose and sugar may lead to diarrhoea , causing the body to lose potassiumand creating a condition known as hypokalemia.
Potassium is a mineral (electrolyte) in the body. Almost 98% of potassium is found inside the cells. Small changes in the level of potassium can have severe effects on the heart, nerves, and muscles. Potassium is important to maintain several bodily functions. In particular muscles need potassium to contract and the heart muscle needs potassium to beat properly and regulate blood pressure.
Sugar also stimulates insulin release which also drives potassium into the body's cells, causing potassium levels in the bloodstream to fall.
Caffeine also drives potassium into cells and away from the blood.
So any beverage containing fructose(fruit sugars) or sucrose (sugar) and caffeine will have an influence on this important electrolyte when drunk in excessive quantities.
Sugar, Caffeine and Your Teeth?
We all know the role sugar plays in feeding decay causing bacteria and encouraging decay. Caffeine has a profound effect on your mouth too – drying it out and stopping protective saliva flow. Without saliva the chemistry of the mouth changes – a damaging acidic environment develops and bad bacteria start to thrive, contributing to the risk of decay. Teeth will start to dissolve or decay and soften when the pH gets too low and acidic – below 5.5. Saliva keeps the mouth at a neutral pH of 6.5 which is healthy for teeth.
Will diet drinks make a difference?
Many diet drinks also contain caffeine, even though they may not contain sugar. Bacteria can’t thrive on artificial sweetners but they can in a dry mouth. The acidity of diet drinks is also very high and teeth can dissolve with frequent and excessive consumption.
I’m addicted to fizzy drinks – what should I do?
See a dentist to ensure that you are not putting your teeth at risk. Try switching gradually to water. Speak to your doctor about help in conquering your addiction and finding a healthier lifestyle. Community counselling services may be available to help with sugar cravings. Sometimes nutritional supplements will help with sugar cravings. Ask your local healthfood store.
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