How Sugar Causes Inflammation and Messes With Our Bodies
Photo by Valeria Boltneva
As many of you know from my blogs and newsletters, I’ve been struggling with some joint pain over the past few years, mostly from injuries that I’ve picked up from surfing and other activities. I actually have a number of friends who are in the same situation, and we often chat about our injuries and pain and how to do away with it.
The other day I was chatting with a friend in the water, and he mentioned that his acupuncturist told him that one way to reduce or even eliminate pain is to cut out foods with processed sugar. Many of our joint injuries are exacerbated by inflammation, and as it turns out, sugar causes added inflammation in the body. I have spent the past few weeks cutting sugar out of my diet, and it does seem like my pain has gotten a bit better. Meanwhile, I told another friend of mine who has chronic hip pain about my new sugar-free diet, and she tried the same thing and also found that her pain was reduced. She wasn’t sure if it was because of cutting back on the sugar or simply a placebo effect in her head, but she says she feels better!
This got me thinking about sugar and inflammation, so I decided to do some research on it. As it turns out, sugar does indeed cause inflammation in our bodies—and this affects in many ways. Along with the potential for joint pain that my friend’s acupuncturist told him about, chronic inflammation can cause heart disease, cancer, allergies, weight gain or weight loss, fatigue, and a host of other maladies.
Inflammation is actually a good thing when it is in its acute form, as it is a healing mechanism that helps our bodies recover from injuries. But chronic inflammation can be very problematic for the body, and as it turns out, it is largely the product of our diet.
Consuming processed sugar and high fructose corn syrup causes the body to produce free fatty acids, which can cause an inflammatory process in the body. Other foods that cause inflammation include trans fats (you will see this listed as hydrogenated fats on ingredients lists), refined carbs (such as white rice and white bread instead of brown rice and whole-wheat bread), and red meat. All of these foods should be eaten in moderation or, ideally, avoided completely in order to reduce inflammation in the body.
Unfortunately, most of these foods have become ubiquitous in the modern diet, as they can be found in just about any prepared meal or fast-food meal that we consume. This is why it is a good idea to start cooking your own meals out of whole food ingredients that nourish the body and keep your inflammation low. As you learn new, creative recipes, you will likely begin to see these whole food ingredients in a new, delicious light. And who knows—that pain in your joints might just go away too!
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