Is Sugar Making Your Inflammation Worse?
There’s nothing quite as intelligent as the human body. When you trip and twist your ankle, it swells up, notifying you that something is wrong.
An acute inflammatory response is healthy. It is your body signaling for you to take action so that it can heal. But increasingly, perhaps due to changing environments and different diets, people are experiencing chronic inflammatory responses.
Often, these come in the form of allergies which could be due to an overreaction by the body to environmental, ingested or vector-borne triggers. If you have allergies, it is vital that you consult a physician to help you manage the symptoms and exposure to causes.
Call Physician Immediately If Inflammation Persists For Weeks
Sometimes, however, your body mounts a chronic inflammatory response. This is when inflammation persists for weeks, months or even years. Unlike a twisted ankle, there is no time-frame as to when you can expect the inflammation to subside. If this sounds like you, consult your physician immediately.
Often, because the symptoms of chronic inflammation are non-specific, it takes several tests by your doctor to determine the cause.
During this time, you may experience body aches, joint pain and sometimes a low-grade fever. The prolonged pain and fever can exhaust you, leaving you drained and fatigued. Just thinking about the simplest tasks overwhelms you and getting through the day is like wading through mud.
It is as debilitating and distressing as it sounds. Chronic inflammation has even been linked to heart disease, depression and cancer.
So the million-dollar question is this: is there something you can do right now — as you read this — to drastically reduce chances of chronic inflammation?
Kick processed sugar right out of your life.
How is sugar connected to chronic inflammation? The soldiers and guardians of our well-being are our white blood cells. They monitor our bodies carefully and rush in when there is an infection or an acute inflammation.
Unfortunately, sugar drastically decreases the power of white blood cells, leaving us even more vulnerable to infections and inflammation. We get caught in a cycle that gets more vicious with every turn. This is how sugar causes inflammation.
Until recently, we have lived with the vague notion that too much processed sugar isn’t very good for us. But sugar can be downright unhealthy, even harmful in some cases. Put another way: if you think of inflammation as ugly, stubborn weed in your body, processed sugar is a potent fertilizer.
Eliminating sugar altogether is, of course, an ideal. But given the average person’s lifestyle, budget and general lack of restraint, it seems more realistic to minimize your intake rather than avoiding sugar altogether.
How To Get Away From Sugar
Sometimes we reduce our intake by using sugar substitutes. Do be aware that some “natural, unprocessed” stand-ins can also be chock-full of sugar. If you plan on using a substitute, read up on it thoroughly before you do.
Once you’ve decided which substitute you’re happy with, try and use less and less of it in your hot beverages and baking. This is because substitutes themselves are not free of undesirable side- effects.
Give yourself a generous timeline to do this. Often, in our eagerness to get healthy fast, we set ourselves impossibly high standards. Failure almost always follows; we get discouraged, and give up on the healthy track altogether. Be a little kinder to yourself: reduce the amounts weekly or even fortnightly. Just make sure to make the cuts regularly.
Ketchup, mustard, Thai sauce, soy sauce, barbecue sauce, honey mustard dressing – the mouthwatering list doesn’t end. A hot dog drowned in ketchup and mustard, a chicken salad generously doused with honey-mustard dressing, barbecued wings with a sweet glaze, apple pie — these were no doubt invented to test human endurance.
Unfortunately, there is also a large dose of processed sugar in each of them. Does that mean you have to ditch all of these — and more — and forever lead a joyless life? That may just be one of the impossible standards which evolve into roadblocks.
A more sustainable approach may be to allow yourself “cheat days”, or days on which you give yourself permission to indulge just a little.
Two vital things to note:
- Mark these days well in advance. If you decide your cheat days randomly or on the spur of the moment, you’ll have more cheat days than you can count.
- Cheat days are not binge days. Eating these foods till you’re stuffed just puts a huge amount of sugar in your body all at once. Remember the weeds and the fertilizer? Enough said.
Some of these measures may seem drastic, even laced with panic. After all, humans have been consuming sugar since time immemorial and we seem to be doing just fine. Or are we?
Cut Down Sugar Intake For A Week
Try a small experiment. Cut down your sugar intake significantly for a week. At the end of that, take a long, hard look back.
- Were your moods better?
- Did you feel like you had a little more energy?
- Did the quality of your sleep improve?
- Was your mind clearer?
If you felt any of these in the slightest, think about a lifetime of that. Think about days filled with energy, less stress, good sleep and a clear mind. You deserve all of that and you can have it, if you watch your sugar intake.
The above is not a substitute for medical advice from a physician. Before you embark on any lifestyle or dietary change, be sure to consult your doctor.