Hello everyone I hope you are all well and fighting hard!
I am going to take a little time today to talk about sugar, its affects on the body and possible interactions with arthritis. We know as arthritis sufferers that inflammation is a dangerous thing in fact that goes for everyone.
Chronic inflammation is extremely damaging to our bodies so does sugar cause inflammation?
What is sugar?
Sugar is essentially a carbohydrate. When we think about natural sugar we think of things like fruit, when we think refined sugar we might think of a can of coke.
So it would be easy to think that we can just avoid the refined sugar and enjoy the natural but of course there is more to it than that.
A problem people have today is that they still don’t realise how much sugar they are consuming because a lot of people still don’t realise that carbohydrates convert to sugar in the blood.
Yes that includes foods such as pasta, bread, baked potatoes and of course many many more.
When we consume foods like this blood sugar levels spike and insulin is produced in the body. The role of insulin is to allow blood sugar to enter the cells in our body ready to be used as energy.
That’s why you may hear of athletes that ‘carbo load’, they consume, for example, a load of pasta knowing that this will give them bundles of energy when performing.
So surely sugar is fine as long as we are going to be moving vigarously enough to use what is stored for energy?
It’s not use or lose it’s use or it stays!
If you don’t use all that sugar that is stored for energy guess what happens to it, it stays in the body as body fat.
Those that are athletes will probably use sufficient amounts which mean they won’t get fat but that doesn’t mean the process is healthy for them and I’ll come back to this point soon.
For the many of us who aren’t athletes how are you planning on using them glucose stores. Glucose comes from the Greek word for sweet.
It is produced when starchy carbohydrates such as bread and potatoes are broken down by the body. It is essentially the sugar that comes from these foods and what we use for energy.
The glucose that isn’t used is stored in the body in glycogen stores, basically body fat. So how you going to use it up? Do you even know how much activity you would need to do to use up the sugar stores from a baked potato?
Did you know for example that a baked potato contains double the amount of sugar than a can of coke?
Obviously it still has more nutritional value because it has fiber but it will take some amount of exercise to use up the sugar stored from it.
So we can see that carbohydrates which is what sugar is can lead to increased body fat if you are not exercising enough to burn it off but what about those that are burning it off.
I mentioned above that it still may not be the healthiest choice for the body, let’s look why.
The reason I say it may not be the healthiest choice for athletes is inflammation.
The spike that occurs to our blood sugar levels when consuming carbohydrates is massive, due to a lot of chain reactions that occur the body can be in a state of oxidative stress.
The more this happens and the more consistently it happens the greater the detriment to the body.
What alternative do they have?
Many of our readers will know that I have been trying to adhere to a ketogenic diet which is the minimilisation or elimination of carbohydrates which are replaced with healthy fats.
Healthy fats think fats from fish, fatty meats, olive oil, certain nuts.
Why do this? Well because when you switch to fats the process is similar in that fats will provide you with energy instead of sugar.
This way we avoid a spike in blood sugar and avoid inflammation.
Maybe then it would be acceptable to think that we still have to use up these fat stores or we will gain weight as we would with sugar stores.
That is fairly sound logic and this is where I believe the benefits of a ketogenic diet come into play and we have to begin to understand the differing effects of sugar and fat on our bodies and mind
The reason people are moving towards a ketogenic lifestyle is because they have seen how people lose body fat when they are practising it.
So how come there isn’t excess body fat stores left over on keto like there is when we eat carbs?
1. Fats are easier to burn than carbs.
2. Fats satisfy your hunger so you don’t over consume food.
3. Fats aren’t addictive.
That’s right fats aren’t addictive but sugar IS!
Sugar has been shown to have similar euphoric effects on the brain that heroin users experience, FACT.
And what else can people experience that is similar to a drug addiction, a crash. Think about it for every soaring high there has to be a low.
I have been around heroin users in the past, I have been there when they are high and when they are low. Whilst a sugar crash won’t lead to some of the extreme desperate measures a heroin withdrawal will such as theft, it does share similarities.
Irritability, low energy, headaches, unable to think clearly, focus, depression.
Scary. Especially when we think about how many young children possess this addiction to sugar.
Obesity in children is on the rise in affluent countries, why? Because they can’t possibly burn off a McDonalds Happy Meal, bread bun converts to sugar, fries convert to sugar, milkshake or soft drink means even more sugar on top.
Thinking about what we have said about sugar stores and what it takes to burn them off how can a child be expected to do so and nowadays they have no inclination to because children are living a more sedentary lifestyle.
Adverts like these don’t help.
The other thing with drinks like sodas or sweets they don’t satisfy hunger cravings so you will still feel hungry and continue to overeat.
I’ll take a diet coke then?
Yeah you would think that would be the better choice wouldn’t you.
It’s sugar-free! It is but have you ever looked at a label? How do they get it to taste sweet without putting sugar in it? How do they guarantee you will drink it like you would the regular coke?
Look at the labels you will see this on a lot of products in the supermarkets, aspartame is a type of artificial sweetener. There are others such as saccharin, sucralose.
Whilst these sweeteners don’t appear to spike blood sugar levels as sugar does there is some evidence to suggest that they can disrupt gut bacteria.
In 2014 a group of scientists from Israel conducted an experiment on mice whereby they fed them artificial sweetener for 3 months. What happened was that there gut bacteria was so negatively affected that it caused blood sugar to rise.
So it may not spike blood sugar initially but sweetener will get you to the same place as sugar in the end.
Do you want another tip that artificial sweetener isn’t good for you? I just gave you it, it’s artificial! We are constantly consuming things today that are bodies where never set up to digest.
Why do you think everyone today has some sort of intolerance or allergy. You hear somebody say that they are wheat intolerant they only found that out because they ate wheat, if they never attempted to get there body to digest it they wouldn’t have known.
I know that can sound dumb and obvious but it can be frustrating when people don’t realise the connection. “Oh I have really bad IBS and I don’t understand because I eat healthy”.
No you don’t! If you ate healthy you wouldn’t have IBS you have IBS because your gut is constantly under duress and it is trying to signal you to tell you to stop it.
So does sugar cause inflammation? Yes.
In my opinion you are best cutting it out of your diet. For those who think that using artificial sweetener is better I hope this article as raised some concerns.
Why do Coca-Cola and Pepsi use it in their diet products? My guess is because people cottoned on to the fact the regular sugary drinks can lead to diabetes and other disease.
So buy unveiling a new diet alternative that won’t spike blood sugar they can seem like a responsible well-meaning company. When in the long term blood sugar levels can still be spiked but they don’t expect us to find that out.
And why do they use artificial sweetener in the diet versions? To get us to buy it and enjoy it as we would the regular version.
And how do they know we will?
Because we are addicted to sugar.
This book below is the best thing for those of you who want to delve deeper into the issues we have touched on. It is an excellent read and a book that should be read by anyone looking to take charge of their health!
Thanks for reading, speak soon.