The surprising link between sugar and chronic pain
The connection between sugar and diabetes has been well established. But high sugar diets aren’t just hazardous for diabetics. It turns out, the sweet stuff appears to be a bigger health risk than ever imagined.
The connection between obesity and sugar is a complicating factor for many health issues. While obesity has its own hazards, the chronic inflammation as a result of obesity can be the cause of many joint related aches and pains.
“While weight gain and teeth decay may be the most obvious consequences of excessive sugar consumption, there are many other ‘hidden’ effects of consuming too much of the sweet stuff,” noted an article in Medical Daily. Other studies have now linked high sugar consumption to inflammatory diseases like osteoarthritis and other joint pain, fibromyalgia, heart disease and more.
High quantities of sugar stress out the heart and decrease its muscle function, according to research published in the Journal of the American Heart Association. Eventually, the situation can cause heart failure in some cases.
There are many kinds of joint pain and inflammation, including various forms of arthritis. The most prevalent type is osteoarthritis, also known as degenerative joint disease. It affects more than a one-third of adults older than 65 and 14 percent of people over 25. A research paper from the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition reviewed several studies showing processed sugar can increase inflammation that causes joint pain.
One of the more surprising negative effects of sugar consumption involves the brain. A study published in Neuroscience showed high levels of added sugar can reduce production of a chemical called “brain-derived neurotrophic factor.”
With inadequate levels of this chemical, normal cognitive tasks like learning and memory formations are more difficult.
In addition to the ailments listed above, other health problems connected to excessive sugar include kidney disease, fatty liver disease, wrinkling and sagging of prematurely aged skin and even erectile dysfunction. With many of these, pain can be a side effect.
Reducing sugar might help
Instead of trying to eliminate sugar from your diet cold turkey, try to gradually reduce your sugar intake.
Try cutting out one sweet food from your diet each week. Start putting less sugar in your coffee or cereal. Over time, you will lose your need for that sugar taste.
Keep in mind that starchy foods like chips, white bread, pastries, pasta and fries are quickly converted into simple sugars by your body. They have essentially the same effect as eating candy or drinking a can of soda.
If you suffer from chronic pain that has been difficult to diagnose or to treat, you might talk with a medical professional about whether or not your diet might be a contributing factor.
Even after degenerative changes have taken place in the joints, the resulting pain can often still be improved by minimizing the inflammation that a high sugar diet can create. It’s possible that controlling your sugar intake could be one step in helping get your pain under control. There are also many other pain solutions available that do not involve oral pain medications. Seek advice from your pain management specialist.
Dr. Alex Bigham is the owner and CEO of Novocur Pain Management Clinics and has over 18 years of health care experience in private practice and Ambulatory Surgical Center settings. Novocur offers advanced treatment options in a concierge type practice without the concierge price tag. Dr. Bigham appears frequently on local TV and radio programs to discuss the latest in Pain Management or related health topics.