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Cycling and Gum Disease

I thought of posting a fetching photo of Dr. Heff in cycling lycra but felt it might be even more shocking than the connection between cycling and gum disease! Scary!

Seriously though, the lockdown has meant that even more of us have begun cycling, which is wonderful, but please be mindful of the increased risk of gum disease.

The two main culprits are sugar and dehydration; putting those together creates a gum disease hotbed. Why? Because your oral health is dependent on saliva and balanced bacteria. Sugar feeds the harmful bacteria, which causes them to proliferate, and with a lack of saliva, your natural defenses are dramatically decreased, causing gum disease.

Why am I targeting cycling in particular? Because pro runners sweat 2.3 liters per hour on average and pro cyclists sweat 3 - 4 liters per hour.

This is how you calculate your sweat rate:

Weigh yourself before and after training. Convert weight loss to fluid ounces and measure the amount of fluid you drank during training.

Add lost fluid to consumed fluid to get total fluid loss. Divide this number by the hours of training to get your fluid loss per hour.

Because cyclists tend to lose more fluid, they are at a greater risk of being dehydrated. And, knowing this, they tend to fill their sports bottles with more than water.  Not only that, but they also tend to rely more heavily on carbohydrate gels and bars, having more places to stash them and responding to the body's potential dehydration, which is loaded with sugar. The other reason is time spent training. For example, few people will run 4 to 5 hours during one spell of training, but many will cycle for that long. Even Dr. Heff!

How much sugar? Carbohydrate bars such as Clif have 11 teaspoons of sugar! That's right, no typo, 11 teaspoons of sugar. A little less surprising is Lucozade Energy Orange has 15 teaspoons of sugar in a 380ml bottle. Isotonic sports drinks such as PowerAde have about 8 teaspoons of sugar. Learn how to do your own sugar calculations on labels! It's vital you understand what you are putting in your body.

So, what do you do to maintain energy while cycling and prevent gum disease?

Suck a Dr. Heff's Remarkable Mints is proven to immediately restore the bacterial balance in the mouth and stop tooth decay.

Also, eat a slow-release meal an hour before you train and brush your teeth. You don't have to forgo all sports drinks but water with an electrolyte tablet is definitely the best. Remember, maintaining your oral health is especially important if you are training for an event. Your oral microbiome is crucial to your exercise routine and can have a big impact on your performance.

Here are some fantastic recipes for high-energy bars that don't crumble.  

On a personal note, I've tried the maca powder bar, and it was awesome. I made one batch with peanut butter instead of almond butter and another with just almond butter, and both were delicious. There is a lot of punch in a bar that packs so flat! It has got me through some hikes. The main thing is to drink water after consuming bars or gels to flush the teeth. Follow that up with a refreshing Dr. Heff's, and you are good to go! Subscribe today and get 10% off! 

Wishing you health and happiness,

Team Heff