20 Feb 2017  •  Dental Health  •  6min read By  • Sarah Coulson

What impact do juice diets have on your oral health?

With so many diets to choose from, it’s hard to know which one is best, which one suits your lifestyle, and most importantly which one includes foods that you actually enjoy to eat?

There are many variations of diets which focus upon differing the ratio of macros (carbohydrate, fat, and protein) such as: low carb high fat, low carb high protein, low sugar, low GI, vegan, vegetarian, high fat high protein – the list goes on and on. A popular diet trend is the ‘juicing diet’ as it’s an easy option – you simply juice fruit and vegetables yourself or buy them ready juiced!

No thinking, no cooking, little preparation, and super healthy…right?

Here, Nutritionist, Sarah Coulson, explores this popular diet and the impact that it can have on our oral health.

The juicing diet quite often splits the opinion of nutritionists and health professionals. However, I think that the majority (including myself) are in agreement that this diet is putting consumers at risk of developing Type II diabetes, and it poses a high risk to your oral health too. Even if the juices or smoothies contain the whole fruit (pulp) and not just the juice, the fact of the matter is that the sugar that is naturally contained within the cellular structure of the fruit and vegetable (intrinsic) becomes a free sugar (extrinsic). This sugar is also classed as a Non-Milk Extrinsic Sugar, the same as table sugar and other added sugar sweeteners.  A report by the Telegraph found that some smoothies contain more sugar than a can of Coca Cola!

This list highlights ten juices that contain more than 10.6g of sugar per 100ml – the level found in full-sugar Coca Cola:

  • Sainsbury’s 100% Pressed Red Grape Juice – 16.3g per 100ml
  • Del Monte Mango & Papaya Juice Drink – 14.1g per 100ml
  • Waitrose Essential Apple & Raspberry Juice Drink – 13.9g per 100ml
  • Waitrose Pressed Apple & Mango Juice – 12.6g per 100ml
  • Innocent Pure Fruit Smoothie Mangoes & Passion Fruits – 12.2g per 100ml
  • Tymbark Multifruit Carrot Drink – 11.5g per 100ml
  • Tesco Everyday Value Apple Juice – 11.4g per 100ml
  • Aldi’s Del Rivo Apple Juice – 11.33g per 100ml
  • Tesco Apple & Blackcurrant from concentrate – 11.12g per 100ml
  • Libby’s Tropical Juice Drink – 10.9 per 100g

Source: The Telegraph – The 10 fruit juices with more sugar than Coca-Cola

How much sugar should we be consuming?

A report by the Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition (SACN – an advisory committee to the Government) found that we are currently consuming twice the sugar recommendations with the main sources including sugar-sweetened drinks and fruit juices. They suggest that sugars consumed in the diet should come from within the cellular structure of fruits and vegetables and from lactose that are naturally present in milk and milk products.

The SACN makes the following recommendations:

  • No more than 5% of energy should come from free sugars and this applies to children from two years of age upwards*
  • Adults should have a fibre intake of 30g per day*
  • Consumption of sugar-sweetened drinks should be minimised in children and adults*
  • Children aged four to six should consume no more than 19g/day (five sugar cubes) *
  • Children aged seven to ten should consume no more than 24g per day (six sugar cubes) *
  • Children aged 11 to adults should consume no more than 30g per day (seven sugar cubes). *

Their study suggest that a higher consumption of sugars and sugar-containing food and drink is associated with a greater risk of tooth decay.

* Source: Public Health England – Why 5%?

Are smoothies and fruit juices part of your five-a-day?

Because juicing processes remove fibre from fruit and vegetables, the Government guidelines stipulate that a 150ml glass of juice can count as one of your five-a-day, if you drink more than this, it’s still classed as just one portion. Some fruit and vegetable drinks on the market can claim that they contain two portions of fruit or vegetables if they contain at least 150ml of the juice and at least 80g of crushed pulp. Again, no matter how much you drink, it’s still classed as two portions.

In terms of oral health, it’s not the amount of sugar consumed that puts us at risk of caries, it is the length of time that the surface of the teeth are exposed to free sugars (and other carbohydrates). So with this in mind, I recommend that you reduce the frequency of the consumption of sugary food and drink as it is this that puts you at risk of dental caries, not total sugar intake. I recommend that you consume a smoothie or fruit juice with a straw as this reduces the contact between the sugar and the tooth enamel and also drink it with a meal, as it is the mechanical action of chewing that helps the digestive enzymes act on carbohydrates making them available for metabolism in the gut.

So in conclusion, a juicing diet would not be beneficial to your oral or physiological health as it significantly increases the amount of free sugars in your diet to that of very high levels. If you want the benefit of consuming the vitamins and minerals found in fruit and vegetables, then the answer is quite simple, get eating!

About Sarah

Sarah CoulsonSarah has ten years’ experience working as a nutritionist and is qualified in both ‘Food, Nutrition and Health’ and ‘Human Weight Management.’ Sarah now works as a private consultant, having also written reports for the Government (Isle of Man) on improving primary school meals. For further advice on nutrition or weigh management, you can contact Sarah by emailing: sarahcoulsonnutrition@gmail.com


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