Protein perils

Lucy Stock, Dentist at Gentle Dental Care, Belfast, explains why some protein-rich 'health' products can be bad for your teeth

Some 'healthy' protein shakes contain as much sugar as your standard chocolate bar.
Lucy Stock

WITH more and more people on the quest for perfect abs so the consumption of protein shakes and bars has risen in tandem.

However, many gym goers are unwittingly placing their teeth in harms way as some of the 'healthy' protein shakes and bars contain as much sugar as your standard chocolate bar.

Supplementing with protein isn't just the preserve of bodybuilders or athletes anymore; in general men and increasingly women are turning to protein powders and bars to increase their muscle tone.

For those trying to build muscle its often a case of taking protein shakes at frequent intervals throughout the day. With some muscle seekers eating every two to three hours to attain their desired body.

Continually snacking on sugared foods plays havoc with teeth. Saliva naturally neutralises the mouth two hours after a sugar attack, allowing the teeth to harden.

So, if every two to three hours the teeth are being bathed in sugar from a protein shake, then the bacteria in the mouth have a constant source of food and ideal environment which causes holes to develop in the enamel.

With this eating style, teeth aren't being given a chance to re-harden.

Combine protein shakes or bars with sugar-laden sports drinks and you create tsunami conditions for teeth.

The food companies are adding sugar to the products to improve the flavour as raw protein has a quite bland and even unpleasant taste. Sugars and sweeteners are put in under the guise of many different names including dextrose, fructose, glucose polymers, sucrose, corn syrup, juice and maltodextrin.

If you spot any of these 'red flag' names, especially if they are nearer the top of the ingredients list (this means they exist in greater amounts), then maybe consider another brand.

You can get unsweetened protein powders which have very little sugar and contain less than one gram per serving.

A great alternative to pre-sweetened protein powder is to buy unsweetened protein powder and add your own healthier sweetening options. Opting for low-sugar impact ingredients like unsweetened coconut milk, frozen raspberries, avocado, kale and freshly ground flaxseeds can help the teeth last.

Drinking through a straw or neutralising your mouth after having a protein drink with water or a piece of cheese can also help protect the enamel.

After all, a beautiful smile is the best way to accessorise those ripped abs!

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