Sugar is all around us. Practically every processed food on the market contains it. It’s not just in candies, but bread, pasta sauces, ketchup, and even some freshly-prepared fruits as well.
But just because it is ubiquitous doesn’t mean that it is good for you. In this post, we take a look at some of the reasons why you should keep it away from your child until age five when you can
It Can Damage Their Teeth
Young children don’t have impulse control mechanisms. Therefore, if something feels good, they will keep doing it over and over again. The idea that it could hurt them next week, let alone in decades to come, simply doesn’t enter their mind.
But as any seasoned family dentist will tell you, sugar is the main contributing factor to tooth decay. Even children under the age of five can have trouble with their teeth if they consume too much of the stuff.
These days, the problem is so bad that many dentists take preventative action. Instead of waiting for the child to get a filling (which they inevitably will if they eat a sugar-rich diet), they are being proactive by using sealants. These putty-like substances coat the molars in your child’s mount, preventing acid from bacteria from damaging them, and helping them to last longer.
It Can Rewire Their Brains
Sugar is an energy-dense and extremely pleasurable substance found in food. In fact, it is so powerful that it can make practically anything taste good. If a manufacturer wants to improve the taste of a cheap byproduct, the first thing they do is add more sugar.
Unfortunately, sugar is powerful. The pleasure it creates is so intense that it can rewire the developing mind. Many children can find themselves craving sugar-rich foods.
In the past, parents might have fed their children honey once or twice a year when it was available. However, today sugar is in everything. It’s everywhere. And that means that most kids eat several teaspoonfuls per day.
This constant reward changes the structure of the brain. Eventually, kids switch off to natural foods, preferring junk items instead.
It Can Cause Obesity Later In Life
Because of this, sugar can lead to the creation of pleasure-reward structures in their brains that persist into adulthood. Even when they get older, children might find it hard to wean themselves off sugar, leading to weight gain and other complications in the future.
Unlike naturally-occurring foods, sugar is refined. Nothing in nature, other than honey, is as sweet. Yet sugar is highly available. Obtaining honey usually required people to take enormous risks to obtain it, and it was only available a couple of times a year. Sugar is not the same. It is an extremely common food item available all year long.
So what should parents do? Avoiding sugar is extremely challenging in today’s world. Most children will probably encounter it if they come into contact with other kids. However, parents can keep it out of the home, focusing on fresh foods instead.