Increasing sugar content responsible for many complaints
Medical and dental experts agree: the growing share of sugar in our diets is partly responsible for the development of non-communicable diseases such as diabetes, which now account for a third of healthcare system costs and are one of the main causes. of all deaths worldwide.
Diet-related illnesses are common. They don’t spare the mouth either. Chronic inflammation such as periodontitis has been shown to promote systemic diseases such as diabetes. One of the reasons for the increasing number of cases is the increasing amount of sugar in our diet, as experts from the German Society for Dentistry, Oral and Maxillofacial Medicine point out.
Health problems caused by high sugar intake
During the online press conference “Nutrition – ideal interface between medicine and dentistry”, nutritionist and diabetologist Dr. Matthias Riedl is clear: “The multitude of health consequences of high sugar consumption extend to a increased potential for inflammation of teeth, gums, joints, skin and other organs.”
“In addition, the immune system is weakened and the susceptibility to infections increases,” explains the doctor. In addition, high sugar consumption promotes gastric and intestinal disorders, worsens the intestinal flora and promotes sleep disorders.
Probably the most well-known disease associated with sugar is type 2 diabetes mellitus, which is why it is also known as diabetes. If the amount of sugar in food is not reduced, experts estimate that around 12.3 million people in Germany will have type 2 diabetes by 2040.
Already today, around 7.2% of adults aged 18 to 79 in Germany suffer from diabetes – more than 90% of those suffering from type 2. As Dr. Riedl warns that the accelerated hardening of the arteries with a high risk of heart attack is a consequence of metabolic disease.
70 percent of all amputations in people with diabetes
“About 70% of the 60,000 amputations in Germany are performed on people with diabetes,” says the specialist. Reducing sugar intake can therefore promote health in many places.
Health begins in the mouth
The palate also benefits from less sugar. “Nutrition plays an equally important role for a healthy oral cavity as for an intact organism as a whole”, confirms Prof. Dr. Roland Frankenberger from the University of Marburg.
Sugar is the main risk factor for oral diseases
“Sugar undoubtedly represents the classic ‘common risk factor’ that links dentistry and medicine like no other substance,” Professor Frankenberger points out. The best example is the influence of sugar in the development of dental caries.
“No tooth decay without sugar, it’s as simple as that”, underlines the expert. But even with regular sugar consumption, tooth decay is theoretically not a problem if people adhere to thorough oral hygiene.
Because sugar feeds the biofilm on the teeth. Bacteria and sugar must always be present for cavities to develop, explains the president of the DGZMK. According to him, however, 100% clean teeth are an illusion, which is why “reasonable handling of sweet foods is extremely important from a cariological point of view”.
In the past, there was practically no tooth decay
Tooth decay is one of the most prevalent oral diseases today. But this has not always been the case. Around the year 1800, industrialization increased per capita sugar consumption from less than one kilogram per year to over 30 kilograms.
“While archaeological finds of pre-Neolithic dentition and the dentition of wild animals show virtually no caries, modern populations in industrialized countries show a significantly increased prevalence of caries,” reports Prof. Dr. Johan Peter Wölber from the University of Freiburg.
“More recent studies show that sugar consumption also contributes to the development of gingivitis (inflammation of the gums) and is associated with more periodontitis,” says Wölber.
He points to more recent studies that have already shown that avoiding sugar in test subjects led to a reduction in gingivitis despite the presence of plaque.
How can politics intervene?
There is a lot of scientific evidence on the pathogenic consequences of high sugar consumption, according to the consensus of doctors.
The experts involved are therefore united in calling on health policy to take stronger countermeasures. The possible measures are:
Advertising bans, sugar tax, reduced presentation in supermarkets, clearer labeling of sugar in goods.
What consumers can do
Anyone can, of course, immediately start reducing the amount of sugar in their diet on their own. Matthias Riedl has participated in the development of an application called “myFoodDoctor-App” intended to help consumers reduce their sugar consumption. (vb)
Author and source information
This text corresponds to the specifications of the specialized medical literature, medical guidelines and current studies and has been verified by health professionals.
Graduate editor (FH) Volker Blasek
DGZMK: The common goal: Less sugar (publication: June 30, 2022), dgzmk.de Federal Ministry of Health: Type 1 and type 2 diabetes mellitus (status: June 28, 2021), bundesgesundheitsminister.de
This article contains general advice only and should not be used for self-diagnosis or treatment. It cannot substitute a visit to the doctor.