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shocked expressionEarlier this summer, a couple studies were published that rocked the dental world.

Well, not really. In fact, the findings leaned a bit toward the obvious. Yet each study did add a little something new to the old story of unhealthy habits.

Let’s start with the first, published in the Journal of Dentistry. Researchers confirmed that soda is bad for your teeth. The twist? They found that the damage begins within 30 seconds of exposure. Thirty seconds!

That’s all the time that acids in sodas, fruit juices, and energy drinks need to harm your teeth. And as one of the study’s authors put it,

If high acidity drinks are consumed, it is not simply a matter of having a child clean their teeth an hour or 30 minutes later and hoping they’ll be okay – the damage is already done.

Of course, that damage is entirely preventable, simply by avoiding soft drinks, fruit juice and other highly acidic beverages – or, barring that, at least consuming less.

For more on the problem of acidic and sugary drinks, see our previous post.

The second study — this one published in Public Health Nutrition — showed that fast food is less than healthy. What else is new, right? But did you realize that full-service, sit-down restaurants aren’t all that much better? Eating out typically means more calories, more sugar, more saturated fats and more sodium.

The study found on days when eating at a fast-food restaurant, there was a net increase of total energy intake (194.49 kcal), saturated fat (3.48 g), sugar (3.95 g) and sodium (296.38 mg). Eating at a full-service restaurant was also associated with an energy intake (205.21 kcal), and with higher intake of saturated fat (2.52 g) and sodium (451.06 mg).

Too often when people go out to eat, they treat it as a “when in Rome” experience and order indulgently, with little consideration given to its healthfulness. You can easily wind up loading your body with foods that taste great but hardly substantial nutrition. (And consider how common it is to wash down those meals with a perpetually refilled glass of soda!)

Sure, the occasional meal out is fine. Sometimes it’s necessary. But day in and day out, preparing meals at home is the best choice you can make for consistently healthful eating. By preparing the food yourself, you know how much (if any) sugar or salt has been added. You know your ingredients. You control the portion sizes.

And then eating out once again becomes the nice indulgence it once was.

Image by Nicolas Connault

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