Sugar can impact your body and health in various negative ways, and one of the mechanisms by which it causes damage is through chronic inflammation. Read on to learn more about your body’s inflammatory response and how sugar triggers it.
Inflammation for Dummies
If you’re already very familiar with your body’s inflammatory response and how it can negatively impact your health – good for you! If you aren’t feeling so confident about your inflammation education at this point – you’re not alone!
When your body detects a foreign intruder (such as a splinter, insect sting, irritant, virus, bacteria, other pathogen, etc.), your immune system jumps to the rescue and tries to remove it. Additionally, when the body’s tissues suffer from trauma (blunt force, burns, and other injuries), the body responds and tries to repair the damage. In both cases, the body deploys what’s known as the inflammatory response – a protective mechanism that is part of the body’s defense system.
The (Bad) Thing about Inflammation
In the case of an injury or minor virus, the inflammatory response is short-lived (acute inflammation). In the case of certain illnesses (such as arthritis or autoimmune diseases) or long-term exposure to irritants, chronic inflammation can occur. This can be problematic, since this heightened state of immune response can increase white blood cells and their byproducts, and swelling of tissues can cause damage over time.
Chronic inflammation can lead to health problems (such as tissue damage or disease) in the heart, kidneys, liver, pancreas, lungs, brain, reproductive system, and GI tract. It is linked with certain cancers, heart disease, asthma, diabetes, fibromyalgia, Crohn’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease, acne, signs of aging, and chronic pain.
How Sugar Promotes and Impacts Inflammation
Unfortunately, sugar is one of the irritants that the body recognizes as an invader. It promotes low-grade inflammation in the body, and over time this chronic inflammation can increase pain and disease. Sugar consumption also leads to inflammation by a few additional routes. Sugar is acidic and eating it can alter the pH in your body, and the body’s mechanism of trying to regulate this pH can lead to inflammation. Rapid spikes in blood sugar can also cause inflammation, as can imbalances in your gut microbiome, both of which can be caused by consuming refined sugars.
7 Ways You Can Combat Inflammation
Fortunately, there are ways to combat inflammation in the body and reduce the negative health impacts associated with chronic inflammation. These include:
- Cutting sugar out of your diet and choosing healthier alternatives
- Identifying other triggers in your diet and lifestyle
- An appropriate balance of exercise and rest to promote overall health and healing
- Get regular dental checkups and maintain your oral health
- Get your cholesterol tested, since high levels can exacerbate inflammation
- Avoid smoking
- Choose anti-inflammatory foods, such as tomatoes, leafy green veggies, olive oil, nuts, fatty fish, and berries
By choosing an anti-inflammatory lifestyle and avoiding inflammation triggers like sugar, you can optimize your health and avoid many chronic diseases. Good health starts with good choices, and the choice to avoid or minimize sugar consumption is one that pays off many times over.