We are just beginning to understand how sugar affects the body and, unfortunately, many of these findings are extremely negative. Studies have found that sugar can cause inflammation, promote obesity, and damage the heart. Could it also cause more chronic pain?
What are the effects of sugar?
Many people eat far more than the recommended moderate amounts of the stuff. The World Health Organization recommends eating no more than 12 teaspoons of sugar a day and, while this seems like a lot, one can of soda can contain up to ten teaspoons.
For those with chronic pain, the inflammatory effects of sugar can end up causing more pain in the body.
While those with chronic pain can eat a minimal amount of sugar, there may be increased pain with the more that you eat. Sugar, once absorbed by the body, causes a spike in blood sugar levels. These spikes promote inflammation. Normally, inflammation is a healthy bodily response to injury and infection.
As those with chronic pain know, however, chronic inflammation can lead to an immune response that never “shuts off.” This creates pain in the body. Therefore, many health professionals advise people with chronic pain to avoid or completely cut sugar out of their diets when possible.
How to reduce sugar
Sugar is insidious, so it takes more diligence than just avoiding candy bars and cookies. Check all of the packaged foods that you buy, as there can be large amounts of sugar in these items. Different brands will have different levels, so check the back labels as well. The foods with the most hidden sugars include:
- Tomato sauce
- Peanut butter
- Salad dressing
- Breakfast cereal
- Canned soup
- Granola bars
- Breads and crackers
- Flavored yogurt
- Fruit juice
Even though whole fruits do contain sugar, these natural sugars are normally balanced by the fiber and enzymes also present in the fruit. These help slow down the digestion of the sugar and can help prevent blood sugar spikes. You can also reduce your consumption of sugar from fruits by focusing on fruits with less sugar. These include blackberries, raspberries, limes, and cranberries. Fruits like bananas, mangoes, and grapes contain the highest amounts of sugar.
Do you attempt to limit the amount of sugar that you eat? What could you do to cut even more sugar out of your diet?