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Uncategorized

Sugar, Inflammation, and Health

Important Points:

  • Inflammation
  • Fructose
  • Natural sugar
  • Added sugar
  • Lifestyle change

Sugar, Inflammation, and Health

It’s no secret that sugar is bad for you. It spoils your teeth, packs on pounds around your belly, and provides zero nutrition. Unfortunately, these are the least of sugars crimes. The biggest reason why you should stop eating sugar is that it is one of the most pro-inflammatory foods, and current research suggests that chronic, body-wide inflammation is associated with many modern diseases like obesity, diabetes, and heart disease. So what role does a high-sugar diet play in chronic inflammation? In this article, we’ll delve into this and much more.

What is inflammation?

Inflammation is part of the body’s natural healing process.

Acute inflammation develops rapidly in response to an injury or infection. This type of inflammation tends to be good: It’s your body’s way of trying to fight off further damage while jump starting healing. It usually lasts a few days to a few weeks.

Chronic inflammation is long-term inflammation that occurs over months or years, and can increase your risk for serious diseases. It’s usually caused by unhealthy lifestyle factors like diet.

Some foods, like sugar can also cause inflammation in the body, which in small amounts is not too detrimental, but eating too many inflammatory foods or too much of any one such food may cause chronic low-grade inflammation which can lead to serious health problems such as heart disease, diabetes, and cancer. 

How does added sugar affect your body?

People who take diets rich in refined sugar may be increasing their risk of chronic inflammation. Research suggests that when people eat and drink less sugar, inflammatory markers in their blood decrease.

A high sugar diet can have harmful effects on health, such as increasing the risk of chronic diseases, weight gain, and tooth decay, and it can also result in chronic inflammation causing the body’s immune system to activate resulting in damage to healthy cells. Inflammation as a result of lifestyle factors such as obesity, smoking, and a sedentary existence can contribute to a range of diseases including heart disease, diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, and Alzheimer’s.

When you consume excess added sugar and refined carbohydrates there will be a few changes in your body which help explain why a diet high in sugar can lead to chronic, low-grade inflammation.

  • Excess production of AGEs: Advanced glycation end products (AGEs) are harmful compounds that form when protein or fat combine with sugar in the bloodstream. Too many AGEs lead to oxidative stress and inflammation.
  • Increased gut permeability: Bacteria, toxins, and undigested food particles can more easily move out of the gut and into the bloodstream, potentially leading to inflammation.
  • Higher “bad” LDL cholesterol: Excess LDL cholesterol has been associated with higher levels of C-reactive protein (CRP), a marker of inflammation.
  • Weight gain: A diet rich in added sugar and refined carbohydrates can lead to weight gain. Excess body fat has been linked to inflammation especially when exacerbated by insulin resistance.

It is important to note that inflammation is unlikely to be caused by sugar alone, so other factors like stress, medication, smoking, and excess fat intake need to be monitored or mitigated too.

Is added sugar linked to inflammation?

A lot of research has been carried out to determine how sugar causes inflammation.  Diets high in added sugar are thought to signal the production of pro-inflammatory molecules in the body which, over time can create an environment of chronic, low-grade inflammation and lead to trouble in the future. Sugar also stimulates the production of free fatty acids in the liver. When the body digests these free fatty acids, the resulting compounds can trigger inflammatory processes.

Different kinds of sugar may contribute more or less to inflammation. For instance, some research has suggested that fructose may cause more inflammation than glucose. However, a systematic review found no difference in inflammation from fructose and glucose, so more research is needed.

Also, the researchers saw no differences in inflammatory factors between the groups that consumed high fructose corn syrup versus table sugar (sucrose). The sample sizes were small, and the quality of the studies was low, so more research is necessary to confirm these findings too.

Below are some of the common signs and symptoms of chronic inflammation:

People with chronic inflammation may have an increased risk of diabetes, depression, and dementia, and in older adults, chronic inflammation may also be linked to a higher risk of death. Doctors are working on how to reduce chronic inflammation.

Is natural sugar linked to inflammation?

It’s important to note that there is a difference between added sugar and natural sugar. Added sugar is removed from its original source and added to foods and drinks to serve as a sweetener or increase shelf life. Added sugar comes from high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS), sucrose or “table sugar”, fructose, glucose and corn sugar and is found mostly in processed foods and drinks.

Among US adults, around 13% of total calories come from added sugar. This is high, considering that government guidelines advise that no more than 5% to 15% of calories should come from both solid fats and added sugar.

Sugar found naturally in food, such as fructose in fruit and lactose in milk and dairy products, has not been linked to inflammation. In fact, foods with natural sugars, such as fruits and vegetables, may be anti-inflammatory, but adding processing to them is the equivalent of drinking sugar sweetened beverages, such as soda. For example, experts caution against processing fruit into juices because it removes the fiber and concentrates the sugar to a higher level per serving.

Does sugar cause inflammation?

Inflammation is a critical component of metabolic syndrome and can lead to diseases like type 2 diabetes, atherosclerosis, non-alcoholic liver diseases and gout. Research suggests that eating excess sugar can lead to chronic inflammation.

In the United States, the amount of high fructose corn syrup people consume increased from 1978 to 1998 and then stabilized according to the  Nationwide Food Consumption Surveys . With greater awareness of the risks of added sugar, sugar intake in the U.S. has been declining; nonetheless, people are still consuming too much sugar.

There are definitely changes you can make to minimize your inflammation risk which would include reducing your sugar intake. Here is our list to guide you to a healthier lifestyle.

Lifestyle Changes Can Reduce Inflammation

  • Adopt a low glycemic diet: High sugar intake links to chronic inflammation, stroke risk, coronary heart disease risk, and type 2 diabetes risk, and examples of these are soda, refined carbohydrates, and foods containing high fructose corn syrup.
  • Read food labels: If you are unsure about certain products, get into the habit of reading food labels; look out for ingredients like sucrose, glucose, high-fructose corn syrup, maltose and dextrose.
  • Choose whole-grain carbs: These include oats, whole-grain pasta, brown rice, quinoa and barley which have a lot of fiber and antioxidants that your body uses to help control blood sugar and protect against inflammation.
  • Eat more vegetables: Vegetables contain antioxidants, vitamins and minerals which can protect against and reduce inflammation in the body.  (Fruits are not included here because modern fruits contain tremendous amounts of carbohydrates).
  • Eat lots of antioxidant-rich foods: Fill your plate with foods rich in antioxidants to naturally help counteract inflammation; some examples include nuts, seeds, avocados, oily fish and olive oil.
  • Keep active: Regular physical activity, including both aerobic and resistance exercise can help protect against weight gain and inflammation.
  • Manage stress levels: Learning to manage stress levels through relaxation techniques and even exercise can help reduce inflammation.
  • Add curcumin to food:A component in turmeric called curcumin improves several inflammatory diseases.
  • Get enough fiber:Researchers have shown an association between high fiber diets and lower inflammatory factors, such as TNF-alpha and interleukin-6.
  • Drink green and black teas:Scientists have associated compounds found in green and black teas with lower C-reactive protein in the blood.
  • Eat more nuts: Almonds and other nuts may help to lower the risk of pro-inflammatory states (cardiovascular diseases such as atherosclerosis) and chronic inflammatory diseases (diabetes).
  • Add fish oil to the diet: Omega-3 fatty acids positively affect lower levels of inflammatory factors in the blood, such as C-reactive protein, interleukin-6, and TNF-alpha.

References

  1. Medical News Today (2017):Everything you need to know about inflammation. Retrieved from

https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/248423.php

  • Healthline (2017): Does Sugar Cause Inflammation in the Body? Retrieved from

https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/sugar-and-inflammation

  • Medical News Today (2019): Does sugar cause inflammation in the body? Retrieved from

https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/326386.php

  • Mindbodygreene (2019): The Real Reason You Should Quit Sugar + How To Cut It Out Of Your Life For Good. Retrieved from

https://www.mindbodygreen.com/0-24763/the-real-reason-you-should-quit-sugar-how-to-cut-it-out-of-your-life-for-good.html

  • NCBI (2014):Chronic inflammatory disorders and risk of type 2 diabetes mellitus, coronary heart disease, and stroke: a population-based cohort study. Retrieved from

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24970784

  • NCBI (2019): Chronic Inflammation. Retrieved from

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK493173/

  • Greatist (2019):Does Sugar Actually Cause Inflammation? Retrieved from

https://greatist.com/health/sugar-and-inflammation

Categories
Uncategorized

Lifestyle Induced Inflammation

Important Points:

  • Inflammation
  • Lifestyle change
  • Healthy diet
  • Refined carbohydrates
  • Trans fats

Lifestyle Induced Inflammation

Inflammation is not entirely a bad thing. When it happens over extended periods, it can trigger diseases such as diabetes, heart disease, and obesity. A number of foods that we eat have been linked to chronic low-grade inflammation, so being aware of them and eliminating them from your diet can help to improve your health and prevent disease.

5 Foods that Trigger Inflammation

1. Artificial Sugars

There are two main types of artificial sugars:

  • Table sugar – sucrose composed of 50% glucose and 50% fructose
  • High-fructose corn syrup (HFCS) – 45% glucose and 55% fructose.

One reason artificial sugars are harmful is that they can increase inflammation which can lead to disease. In one study, mice fed high-sucrose diets developed breast cancer that spread to their lungs, in part due to the inflammatory response to sugar. In another study, the anti-inflammatory impact of omega-3 fatty acids was impaired in mice fed a high-sugar diet.

In yet another study, people were given regular soda, diet soda, milk, or water. Of these, only those in the regular soda group had increased levels of uric acid which causes inflammation and insulin resistance. While the small amounts of fructose in fruits and vegetables are fine, getting large amounts from added sugars is a bad idea. Eating a lot of fructose has been linked to obesity, insulin resistance, diabetes, fatty liver disease, cancer, and chronic kidney disease. Food high in artificial sugar includes candy, soft drinks, cakes, sweet pastries, and certain cereals.

2. Artificial Trans Fats

Artificial trans fats are made by adding hydrogen to unsaturated fats, which are liquid, in order to make them solid. In a solid state they have a longer shelf life. Consequently, manufacturers often use trans fats to extend the shelf life of processed foods such as French fries and other fried fast food, margarine and vegetable shortening, packaged cakes and cookies, pastries, and all processed food with “partially hydrogenated” oils as part of the ingredients.

Artificial trans fats have been shown to cause chronic low-grade inflammation. They lower “good” HDL cholesterol levels and may cause damage to endothelial cells lining arteries which is a risk factor for heart disease.

3. Refined Carbohydrates

Carbohydrates are the source of energy for our cells. However, refined carbohydrates, which have most of the fiber removed, may cause inflammation by creating an environment for the growth of inflammatory microbiota. They may also cause leptin resistance and obesity.

Fiber is essential for promoting satiety and improving blood sugar control. Refined carbs have a higher glycemic index (GI) than unrefined carbs, and foods with a high glycemic index elevate blood sugar rapidly. White bread is an example of refined carbohydrates. In one study, subjects who ate 50 grams of white bread experienced higher blood sugar levels and a spike in inflammatory markers. Refined carbohydrates are found in white bread, pasta, white rice, carbonated drinks, cakes and all processed food that contains added sugar or white flour.

4. Excessive Alcohol

Moderate consumption of alcohol has been associated with cardiovascular benefits, however excessive consumption is likely to cause inflammation and trigger disease. Heavy drinking can also trigger leaky gut syndrome which is a precursor for inflammation and organ damage. Moderate alcohol consumption should not exceed two standard bottles for men and one standard bottle for women.

5. Processed Meat

Excessively processed meats have added compounds such as advanced glycation end products which are harmful to the body. They have been linked with heart disease, diabetes, stomach cancer, and colon cancer. Common types of processed meat include some sausages, bacon, ham, smoked meat, and beef jerky. Advanced glycation products are created by exposing meats to high temperatures during preparation. These products are known to increase oxidant stress and inflammation, and cause inflammation through other mechanisms as well. As a result, it is wise to minimize the consumption of processed meat.

The Bottom Line for Inflammation and Disease

Chronic low-grade inflammation is linked to a number of chronic diseases including cancer, obesity, heart disease, and diabetes. These conditions further contribute to inflammation making it a vicious cycle. It is also evident that lifestyle contributes to this kind of toxic inflammation, and by altering diet and making a few lifestyle changes one can greatly minimize their chances of getting these diseases. It is not enough to just drop these unhealthy foods, but you need to replace them with healthier alternatives. Here is an article about foods that reduce inflammation (hyperlink to the article on managing inflammation with diet).

What happens if you have already been diagnosed with an inflammation-related disease? Do not panic as hope is not lost. By altering your diet, you can claim your health back. Foods that promote insulin sensitivity can help to reverse diabetes and cure obesity. You can also read our article on how to reverse diabetes with diet.

If you are at high risk for lifestyle-related disease there is no shortcut to health and longevity; you just have to take drastic measures to change your diet and lifestyle. A good place to start is by eliminating these toxic foods from your diet.

References

1.   NCBI (2010): The global diabetes epidemic as a consequence of lifestyle-induced low-grade inflammation. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19890624

2.   NCBI (2015): Differences and similarities in hepatic lipogenesis, gluconeogenesis and oxidative imbalance in mice fed diets rich in fructose or sucrose. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25905791

3.   NCBI (2014): Trans fatty acids: are its cardiovascular risks fully appreciated? Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24636816

4.   NCBI (2005): Consumption of trans fatty acids is related to plasma biomarkers of inflammation and endothelial dysfunction. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15735094

5.   NCBI (2008): High-glycemic index carbohydrate increases nuclear factor-kappaB activation in mononuclear cells of young, lean healthy subjects. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18469238

Categories
Uncategorized

Sugar, Inflammation, and Health

Important Points:

  • Inflammation
  • Fructose
  • Natural sugar
  • Added sugar
  • Lifestyle change

Sugar, Inflammation, and Health

It’s no secret that sugar is bad for you. It spoils your teeth, packs on pounds around your belly, and provides zero nutrition. Unfortunately, these are the least of sugars crimes. The biggest reason why you should stop eating sugar is that it is one of the most pro-inflammatory foods, and current research suggests that chronic, body-wide inflammation is associated with many modern diseases like obesity, diabetes, and heart disease. So what role does a high-sugar diet play in chronic inflammation? In this article, we’ll delve into this and much more.

What is inflammation?

Inflammation is part of the body’s natural healing process.

Acute inflammation develops rapidly in response to an injury or infection. This type of inflammation tends to be good: It’s your body’s way of trying to fight off further damage while jump starting healing. It usually lasts a few days to a few weeks.

Chronic inflammation is long-term inflammation that occurs over months or years, and can increase your risk for serious diseases. It’s usually caused by unhealthy lifestyle factors like diet.

Some foods, like sugar can also cause inflammation in the body, which in small amounts is not too detrimental, but eating too many inflammatory foods or too much of any one such food may cause chronic low-grade inflammation which can lead to serious health problems such as heart disease, diabetes, and cancer. 

How does added sugar affect your body?

People who take diets rich in refined sugar may be increasing their risk of chronic inflammation. Research suggests that when people eat and drink less sugar, inflammatory markers in their blood decrease.

A high sugar diet can have harmful effects on health, such as increasing the risk of chronic diseases, weight gain, and tooth decay, and it can also result in chronic inflammation causing the body’s immune system to activate resulting in damage to healthy cells. Inflammation as a result of lifestyle factors such as obesity, smoking, and a sedentary existence can contribute to a range of diseases including heart disease, diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, and Alzheimer’s.

When you consume excess added sugar and refined carbohydrates there will be a few changes in your body which help explain why a diet high in sugar can lead to chronic, low-grade inflammation.

  • Excess production of AGEs: Advanced glycation end products (AGEs) are harmful compounds that form when protein or fat combine with sugar in the bloodstream. Too many AGEs lead to oxidative stress and inflammation.
  • Increased gut permeability: Bacteria, toxins, and undigested food particles can more easily move out of the gut and into the bloodstream, potentially leading to inflammation.
  • Higher “bad” LDL cholesterol: Excess LDL cholesterol has been associated with higher levels of C-reactive protein (CRP), a marker of inflammation.
  • Weight gain: A diet rich in added sugar and refined carbohydrates can lead to weight gain. Excess body fat has been linked to inflammation especially when exacerbated by insulin resistance.

It is important to note that inflammation is unlikely to be caused by sugar alone, so other factors like stress, medication, smoking, and excess fat intake need to be monitored or mitigated too.

Is added sugar linked to inflammation?

A lot of research has been carried out to determine how sugar causes inflammation.  Diets high in added sugar are thought to signal the production of pro-inflammatory molecules in the body which, over time can create an environment of chronic, low-grade inflammation and lead to trouble in the future. Sugar also stimulates the production of free fatty acids in the liver. When the body digests these free fatty acids, the resulting compounds can trigger inflammatory processes.

Different kinds of sugar may contribute more or less to inflammation. For instance, some research has suggested that fructose may cause more inflammation than glucose. However, a systematic review found no difference in inflammation from fructose and glucose, so more research is needed.

Also, the researchers saw no differences in inflammatory factors between the groups that consumed high fructose corn syrup versus table sugar (sucrose). The sample sizes were small, and the quality of the studies was low, so more research is necessary to confirm these findings too.

Below are some of the common signs and symptoms of chronic inflammation:

People with chronic inflammation may have an increased risk of diabetes, depression, and dementia, and in older adults, chronic inflammation may also be linked to a higher risk of death. Doctors are working on how to reduce chronic inflammation.

Is natural sugar linked to inflammation?

It’s important to note that there is a difference between added sugar and natural sugar. Added sugar is removed from its original source and added to foods and drinks to serve as a sweetener or increase shelf life. Added sugar comes from high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS), sucrose or “table sugar”, fructose, glucose and corn sugar and is found mostly in processed foods and drinks.

Among US adults, around 13% of total calories come from added sugar. This is high, considering that government guidelines advise that no more than 5% to 15% of calories should come from both solid fats and added sugar.

Sugar found naturally in food, such as fructose in fruit and lactose in milk and dairy products, has not been linked to inflammation. In fact, foods with natural sugars, such as fruits and vegetables, may be anti-inflammatory, but adding processing to them is the equivalent of drinking sugar sweetened beverages, such as soda. For example, experts caution against processing fruit into juices because it removes the fiber and concentrates the sugar to a higher level per serving.

Does sugar cause inflammation?

Inflammation is a critical component of metabolic syndrome and can lead to diseases like type 2 diabetes, atherosclerosis, non-alcoholic liver diseases and gout. Research suggests that eating excess sugar can lead to chronic inflammation.

In the United States, the amount of high fructose corn syrup people consume increased from 1978 to 1998 and then stabilized according to the  Nationwide Food Consumption Surveys . With greater awareness of the risks of added sugar, sugar intake in the U.S. has been declining; nonetheless, people are still consuming too much sugar.

There are definitely changes you can make to minimize your inflammation risk which would include reducing your sugar intake. Here is our list to guide you to a healthier lifestyle.

Lifestyle Changes Can Reduce Inflammation

  • Adopt a low glycemic diet: High sugar intake links to chronic inflammation, stroke risk, coronary heart disease risk, and type 2 diabetes risk, and examples of these are soda, refined carbohydrates, and foods containing high fructose corn syrup.
  • Read food labels: If you are unsure about certain products, get into the habit of reading food labels; look out for ingredients like sucrose, glucose, high-fructose corn syrup, maltose and dextrose.
  • Choose whole-grain carbs: These include oats, whole-grain pasta, brown rice, quinoa and barley which have a lot of fiber and antioxidants that your body uses to help control blood sugar and protect against inflammation.
  • Eat more vegetables: Vegetables contain antioxidants, vitamins and minerals which can protect against and reduce inflammation in the body.  (Fruits are not included here because modern fruits contain tremendous amounts of carbohydrates).
  • Eat lots of antioxidant-rich foods: Fill your plate with foods rich in antioxidants to naturally help counteract inflammation; some examples include nuts, seeds, avocados, oily fish and olive oil.
  • Keep active: Regular physical activity, including both aerobic and resistance exercise can help protect against weight gain and inflammation.
  • Manage stress levels: Learning to manage stress levels through relaxation techniques and even exercise can help reduce inflammation.
  • Add curcumin to food:A component in turmeric called curcumin improves several inflammatory diseases.
  • Get enough fiber:Researchers have shown an association between high fiber diets and lower inflammatory factors, such as TNF-alpha and interleukin-6.
  • Drink green and black teas:Scientists have associated compounds found in green and black teas with lower C-reactive protein in the blood.
  • Eat more nuts: Almonds and other nuts may help to lower the risk of pro-inflammatory states (cardiovascular diseases such as atherosclerosis) and chronic inflammatory diseases (diabetes).
  • Add fish oil to the diet: Omega-3 fatty acids positively affect lower levels of inflammatory factors in the blood, such as C-reactive protein, interleukin-6, and TNF-alpha.

References

  1. Medical News Today (2017):Everything you need to know about inflammation. Retrieved from

https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/248423.php

  • Healthline (2017): Does Sugar Cause Inflammation in the Body? Retrieved from

https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/sugar-and-inflammation

  • Medical News Today (2019): Does sugar cause inflammation in the body? Retrieved from

https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/326386.php

  • Mindbodygreene (2019): The Real Reason You Should Quit Sugar + How To Cut It Out Of Your Life For Good. Retrieved from

https://www.mindbodygreen.com/0-24763/the-real-reason-you-should-quit-sugar-how-to-cut-it-out-of-your-life-for-good.html

  • NCBI (2014):Chronic inflammatory disorders and risk of type 2 diabetes mellitus, coronary heart disease, and stroke: a population-based cohort study. Retrieved from

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24970784

  • NCBI (2019): Chronic Inflammation. Retrieved from

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK493173/

  • Greatist (2019):Does Sugar Actually Cause Inflammation? Retrieved from

https://greatist.com/health/sugar-and-inflammation