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Many sports nutrition products bad for teeth, Danish Dental Association cautions

Fitness drinks and snacks are often too acidic and contain too much sugar to be labelled as healthy, the Danish Dental Association has found in a new product study. (Photograph: Syda Productions/Shutterstock)
Dental Tribune International

Dental Tribune International

三. 15 六月 2016


COPENHAGEN, Denmark: After evaluating the sugar content in 40 fitness drinks and snacks, the Danish Dental Association has warned customers to use energy boosters, such as sports drinks, performance gels and protein bars, carefully. Although often labelled as healthy, most of the products tested contained high amounts of sugar and were highly acidic—both of which increase the risk of dental erosion and tooth decay.

The test, which was conducted by the dental association, together with the National Food Institute, showed that most of the energy products had sugar levels comparable with regular soft drinks and sweets. For example, half a litre of a protein shake contained 50 g of sugar—similar to the amount of sugar in a 500 ml cola—and an energy bar contained 23 g of sugar, which is comparable to a chocolate glazed doughnut.

“Manufacturers are experts at making products look healthy and inviting,” Danish Dental Association President Freddie Sloth-Lisbjerg said on the organisation’s website. “But our study shows that in many cases people are gambling with their dental health by consuming such energy drinks and protein bars during training.”

During exercise, the teeth are particularly vulnerable to acid damage, Sloth-Lisbjerg stressed. While saliva generally protects the teeth, physical exertion often leads to a dry mouth. “If you then ingest liquids with a high acid content, such as energy gels and drinks, the teeth are almost bathed in acid,” he said.

Sloth-Lisbjerg suggested drinking plenty of water during a workout and eating a piece of fruit instead. If products are low in sugar, but very acidic—which is the case with many light beverages—he further advised drinking quickly, not in small sips, and rinsing the mouth with water or milk afterwards.

Although there is no statistical long-term data on the effects of performance products on dental health, there is evidence that these have become increasingly available and often are considered not only fitness but also lifestyle products today. If this leads to an increase in consumption, the problems associated with their unhealthy contents will go beyond dental health, Sloth-Lisbjerg emphasised.

The results of the test can be accessed on the dental association’s website.

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