OK time for serious post about a serious issue. This one’s written by our co-founder Dan…
There’s been growing media coverage of the dangers of excess sugar in our diets. On the one hand there’s concern about the UK’s obesity and diabetes epidemic. Championing this is the admirable Action On Sugar group whose aim is to “target the huge and unnecessary amounts of sugar that are currently being added to our food and soft drink”.
On the other hand there’s those highlighting the worryingly high levels of dental decay among UK adults and children. Only last month another study (published in the Journal for Dental Research) again highlighted the unsurprising link between excessive sugar and this dental decay. One of the study’s authors, Paula Moynihan, Professor of Nutrition and Oral Health at Newcastle University, said: “Part of the problem is that sugary foods and drinks are now staples in many people’s diet in industrialised countries, whereas once they were an occasional treat for a birthday or Christmas. We need to reverse this trend.”
It’s great that both of these issues have been grabbing the headlines but it’s a shame that they often remain unconnected when obviously they are different sides of the same coin. As a nation we’re consuming too much sugar and this is damaging our health. It’s decaying our teeth, it’s making us put on weight and it’s giving us diabetes. We’d encourage those debating the issue to consider this whole picture to raise awareness of all the implications of a high sugar diet.
We feel it’s also important to help people understand how they can reduce their sugar intake. One way is cutting back on or avoiding certain foods. Another is also helping them understand how they can enjoy the same foods but without the sugars. This is key in our market, confectionery. 63% of the Spanish confectionery market is sugar-free. In Italy it is 30%, in Switzerland 20%. In the UK it is just 3%.
We make up a part of this worryingly small market segment, selling sugar-free mints, gum and sweets made using xylitol instead of sugar. Xylitol tastes very similar to sugar but is lower calorie and low GI (so it’s suitable for diabetics). Importantly it also has anti-bacterial properties that actually help reduce the risk of plaque and tooth decay. This means our mints and our sweets for kids have won several coveted Great Taste Awards while also being accredited by the British Dental Health Foundation.
It’s not only confectionery where xylitol can be used instead of sugar. Bags of xylitol granules can be bought for use in everything from baking to putting in your tea (we don’t sell these by the way).
Xylitol is obviously not the solution to the whole problem. It is however excellent for helping people replace their sugar intake from confectionery while also doing their teeth some good. The fact that it’s several times more expensive than sugar means it is often avoided as an ingredient by the major producers but we feel it’s important that people are at least aware there are alternatives.
Thanks for listening.
A few notes:
Not all sugar alternatives are created equal. The negative perception of some synthetic alternatives such as aspartame should not put people off all sugar alternatives. Xylitol is naturally derived and sustainably sourced. The xylitol we use is the highest quality available and sourced from beech trees from sustainably managed forests in Europe.
Xylitol is not a miracle cure for bad oral hygiene. It’s just a very useful extra tool to help keep teeth healthy. Everyone should still brush at least twice a day, use a good mouthwash and regularly visit their dentist.
Xylitol has around 50% fewer calories than sugar, 75% less carbohydrates and has a low GI (of 7)
The full list of claims from the British Dental Health Foundation is as follows:
- Eating Peppersmith mints gum and tingz with xylitol benefits dental health
- Eating Peppersmith mints gum and tingz with xylitol is good for dental health
- Eating Peppersmith mints gum and tingz with xylitol helps reduce plaque
- Eating Peppersmith mints gum and tingz with xylitol reduces the risk of tooth decay
- Eat Peppersmith mints gum and tingz for healthier teeth
- Eat Peppersmith mints gum and tingz after meals, two to three times a day
“It is very pleasing to find mints, gum and sweets in the market that are proven to be actively good for your teeth. Peppersmith products help reduce plaque and the risk of tooth decay to give healthier teeth all round.” Dr Nigel Carter, Chief Executive of the British Dental Health Foundation said:
“Xylitol may be the biggest advance against cavities since fluoride.” Dr. Nigel Carter.
Peppersmith products are stocked in a variety of retailers including Waitrose, Sainsbury’s Locals, WHSmith, Holland & Barrett, Whole Foods Market and amazon.co.uk
Market statistics from Leatherhead Food Research (2013).