We're all busy, and most of us try to maintain some semblance of a healthy diet while we're on the go. One of the handiest ways to keep your diet in check is to grab a nutrition or energy bar
. Whether you're looking to up your vitamin and mineral intake, get some protein or simply satiate hunger, these bars are often one of the quickest, simplest ways to do so. However, with ease comes some disadvantages.
While they may be good for your body as a whole, nutrition and energy bars can wreak havoc on the teeth. The sticky consistency of many of these bars makes it difficult for the mouth to wash away particles that can adhere to the teeth. Leftover food bits that remain in the mouth become fodder for bacteria, which begin to produce the acid that leads to tooth decay within 15 to 20 minutes after food fragments are present, says Dr. Richard H. Price, spokesman for the American Dental Association
The inherent problem with nutrition bars is that we mostly consume on the go, which means that we don't necessarily have access to toothpaste and a toothbrush. If you know you're going to be eating a nutrition bar after a workout, Price suggests brushing and flossing before you begin exercising so you can at least start off with a clean mouth. If that's not an option, drinking water can help saliva dissolve any food remnants left in the mouth, giving the bacteria less to feed on.
If the thought of getting a cavity isn't enough cause for concern, "there's a strong correlation between advanced gum disease and cardiac problems as well as heavy plaque build up and pneumonia," says Price. According to the American Academy of Periodontology
, people with periodontal disease
or advanced gum disease are almost twice as likely to develop heart disease
. University of Buffalo researchers found that advanced gingivitis
may allow bacteria in the mouth to enter the bloodstream and trigger the liver to make certain proteins, which are predictors for increased risk for cardiovascular disease.
You don't need to give up your favorite nutrition bars if they work for you. You just need to be aware that the chewier the bar, the worse it is for your teeth. If you don't have floss or a toothbrush handy, make sure to drink plenty of water before and after consuming a nutrition bar.
Tired of eating the same energy bars? Check out That's Fit recommendations for the Top 5