Author Archive for Kerrin Kuntzman

Sugar: How Does It Link to Inflammation and Pain?

Have a back ache you can’t get rid of? Or painful, swollen joints that make you want to sit and not move? Have you tried to alleviate the pain with medications, rest, exercises, but nothing works? It may be because you haven’t addressed the real culprit: sugar.

What many people don’t realize is that sugar consumption and the resulting bodily inflammation is often a major factor in the creation of aches and pains.

Our Garland chiropractors see this uncomfortable connection every day. We understand that bypassing sugar can be a real challenge. It beckons as we pass the donut shop on the corner or spy a child with a double scoop ice cream sundae.donuts

Sweet cravings affect everyone at one time or another, but It’s more than just the taste that sparks those cravings. Sweets are a brain reward, a good feeling, a great way to lift your mood.

What causes the cravings?

Dopamine is a chemical that serves as a neurotransmitter in the brain, which means it sends signals to other nerve cells. Dopamine has always been thought of as a chemical of pleasure; however, pharmacology now believes that instead of creating pleasure, dopamine mediates motivation and desire. It causes ‘wanting” reactions. Studies indicate the region of the brain that responds to drugs such as cocaine and heroin also reacts to dopamine. And—here’s the kicker—when sugar (glucose) is introduced to the system, the brain happily releases dopamine!

That’s why sugary foods are a comfort when you’re tired or depressed or in a mood for a mental health break. There’s nothing like a shot of dopamine to brighten your day! The problem that it can be hard to stop eating sugary foods. Because it tastes so good and it makes you feel so good (at least temporarily), sugar can be addicting.

What causes the inflammation and pain?

Sugar, is an inflammatory food. One of the ways it affects the body is by depleting minerals such as calcium, potassium, and magnesium, which are necessary for muscles to contract and relax naturally. So when you eat a large amount of sugar your muscles go a little haywire. If it happens often enough or long enough, you end up with back spasms.

Any food that increases cortisol(a stress hormone) levels in the body causes inflammation in connective tissues. Sugar is one of those foods.

image of man with joint painInsulin levels are also affected by sugar. Sugar causes insulin levels to spike, which leads to a slew of biochemical reactions that result in inflammation. Also, insulin takes sugar from the blood and stores it in cells, which contributes to fat accumulation. Stomach fat actually secretes proteins and hormones that generate inflammation. Joint pains, in particular, result from inflammation.

We already know desserts and candy are cornucopias of sugar, but it’s amazing how many foods that we think of as ‘regular’ also contain sugar. Even those labeled as “low-fat” or “light” are often rich in sugar.

If you want to decrease your sugar consumption, consider avoiding or cutting back on these foods:

  •  low-fat yogurt
  • BBQ sauce
  • ketchup
  • fruit juice
  • spaghetti sauce
  • sports drinks
  • chocolate milk
  • granola
  • flavored coffee
  • iced tea
  • protein bars
  • vitamin water
  • per-made soup
  • cereal bars
  • canned fruit
  • canned bake beans
  • bottled smoothies
  • breakfast cereal
  • white bread
  • cola
  • dried fruit
  • crackers
  • instant flavored oatmeal
  • soy milk
  • low-fat/fat-free salad dressing
  • frozen entrees

Alternative Choices

• Distract your taste buds – If your taste buds crave sweet, distract them with flavors that make cutting back on sugar less difficult. You can make your oatmeal or coffee tasty with a sprinkle of nutmeg, cinnamon, or vanilla powder. Prefer flavored water? Try lemon, mint, or grapefruit. Stick with roasted vegetables. That cooking process accentuates food’s natural sweetness. A few sugar substitutes: honey, molasses, pureed banana, club soda, balsamic glaze, raisins, unsweetened cocoa powder, cranberries, processed dates, and maple syrup. All excellent cooking ingredients!

• Cut back on processed food and drinks– stop consuming them or reduce the amounts and the frequency of intake. The best approach is to just stop drinking soda and stop eating cookies, cakes, candy, and white pasta, rice, and bread. Search for healthy alternatives.

• Eat more fruits and vegetables– these foods have antioxidants, minerals and vitamins that work against inflammation.

• Fill up on the good stuff – eat foods that naturally fight inflammation, such as oily fish, seeds, nuts, olive oil, and avocados.

• Read the labels– food labels will inform you of the presence of the sugary ingredients you want to avoid. Be informed, and be cautious because different words are used for sugar, often to try and hide its presence.

• Stick with the whole-grain carbs– control blood sugar and protect against inflammation by eating brown rice, whole-grain pasta, barley, quinoa and oats.

• Exercise– fighting weight gain also fights inflammation. And it helps reduce stress.

• Consider adding chiropractic treatment to your routine– Our Garland chiropractors can help with proper joint and spinal alignment.

Coming back to health

Change isn’t easy, especially when your diet is a habit. For most of us, sugar has been an integral part of our lives since we were young.

At our Garland Chiropractic Clinic our professional staff can work with you to establish a healthy eating and exercise routine that will enable you to make the right choices for your health. Combined with chiropractic care our garland chiropractors will help you to feel your best.

It can be done! And pain—as much as we hate it—is an excellent motivator. A chocolate-glazed doughnut or an apple? A pain in your back or a sweet fruit that satisfies your cravings without causing a single ache?

Contact our office today at (972) 840-2520.