It is widely known that eating too much sugar causes obesity, diabetes, and heart disease, but did you know that it could be contributing to your muscle and joint pain as well? We all know that sugar is a main ingredient in foods such as candy, cakes, ice cream, and other deserts, but there is also a lot of sugar hidden in most processed foods as well. Processed food is any food that has been altered in some way during the preparation of it. That can include things such as freezing and canning, or even some “healthy” items such as granola bars, yogurt, bread, and sports drinks.
When we consume too much sugar our body releases insulin and stress hormones. Those, in turn, trigger the inflammation process. Inflammation can lead to persistent pain. The places where we have the least amount of blood circulation are at greatest risk of inflammation – that is why our joints and back can be so dramatically impacted by sugar consumption.
Naturally occurring sugars, the sweet stuff found in fruits and vegetables, pose minimal harm. Most of the research points to refined sugars as being troublesome. Refined sugar is included in baked goods, candy, and ice cream.
Here are a few simple tips you can try to follow to help regulate blood sugar and keep inflammation down.
- Choose good carbs and avoid bad carbs. Good carbs contain lots of fiber and are absorbed slowly into our systems. Good carbs are found in foods such as whole grains, vegetables, fruits, and beans. Bad carbs tend to spike blood sugar levels. Bad carbs are found in foods such as white bread, white rice, sugary beverages, and sweets.
- Drink water. Staying hydrated helps your kidneys flush out excess blood sugar.
- Stay active. Maintaining a healthy weight helps to ensure that your body can process insulin effectively. Staying active can also help reduce stress and help avoid caving in to cravings.
- Manage your stress. Stress can actually stimulate the release of hormones that cause blood sugar levels to rise.
- Get enough sleep. Sleep deprivation can also impact your hormones which play an important role in controlling blood sugar.
Americans on average consume around 19.5 teaspoons of added sugar every day, which comes out to 66 pounds every year. The recommended daily allowance is about 6 teaspoons per day for women and about 9 teaspoons for men.
Limiting sugar in the diet can help reduce inflammation in the body and sometimes can help ease or limit pain you are feeling. Eliminating all sugar from your diet can be very tough. Instead, try taking small steps. Make sure to read nutrition labels to seek out hidden sugar in some of your favorite foods, choose natural and fresh foods when you can, and limit the amount of sweets you have.