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HIGH LIFE : Diet Sodas Damaging Teeth, Hygienists Say

June 25, 1988

Drinking diet soda may help control a growing waistline today, but tomorrow or in a few years it may impair eating abilities or ruin a brilliant smile, reports the Youth News Service.

The Professional Journal of the American Hygienists Assn. reports an increase in the number of patients with enamel erosion and even complete tooth decay as a result of diet soda. According to the hygienists, the process by which sugar is extracted from soda creates chemical elements in the drink that have an acidic effect on tooth enamel.

To avoid the rapid erosion of tooth enamel, dentists suggest that diet soda drinkers swallow the soda rapidly, rather than keep it in their mouth. They also suggest using a straw to avoid contact of the soda with the front of the teeth.

Giving up fast food is probably unthinkable for the estimated one in five Americans who eat it on any given day.

But eating defensively can minimize the nutritional flaws of fast fare, says a report in this month's Consumer Reports.

Among the suggestions:

Choose a roast beef sandwich over a hamburger--it is often leaner.

Don't assume chicken and fish are always better nutritional choices than red meat. Deep-frying can make their fat and calorie content rival those of burgers.

Hold the mayo to save calories and fat. (A tablespoon has about 101 calories and 11.2 grams of fat.)

Substitute milk or a diet soda for a shake.

Bypass the "extra crispy" chicken to cut down on fat intake.

Split an order of fries with a friend.

Choose a baked potato without toppings.

Opt for a salad. But skip the pasta and potato salads, croutons and taco chips to cut down on fat and calories.

"Never eat more than you can lift."

--Miss Piggy

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