Sugar can take many different forms, from naturally occurring in fruits, vegetables and dairy to being refined, processed and added to beverages, sweet treat and manufactured foods.
This refined form of sugar is the one that poses the most concern for weight management, chronic disease development, like diabetes and heart disease, and more recently, chronic inflammation.
Causes of Inflammation
Inflammation in the body can be caused by a number of factors, and sometimes, it is not all bad.
Acute inflammation, like what happens when you sprain your ankle or have swelling around a cut, is a sign of healing in your body. This is a good form of inflammation, the form we need to happen.
The type of inflammation that can negatively impact your health happens on a chronic level, meaning, prolonged inflammation that likely causes destruction and damage to tissues. While chronic inflammation can naturally occur in some conditions, like rheumatoid arthritis and heart disease, there is conflicting information on what comes first -- the disease or inflammation.
It is likely that inflammation is present at the start of a disease state and progresses with the severity of the disease. Regardless, it is in your best interest to limit chronic inflammation to better manage current health and disease state, and possibly offset the development of disease in the future.
There are many causes of chronic inflammation in the body, including smoking, obesity, pollutants, and poor nutrition. Specifically, alcohol, trans fats and refined sugar are nutrition components thought to be associated with causing chronic inflammation.
C-reactive protein is a marker found in the blood that indicates inflammation in the body. Research looking at the consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages indicates a decrease in C-reactive protein when people consume fewer sugary drinks, which supports the hypothesis that sugar can lead to inflammation.
Sugar and Inflammation
While reducing sugar to improve your health is an idea many people can get behind, actually following through and giving up all sweets may sound daunting. The best solution we have found for this conundrum is stevia, a sugar substitute that provides a sweet flavor without the inflammatory effects of refined sugar.
Stevia can be used to bake, create a savory sauce or make your own sweetened beverage, to help you cut down sugar and reduce inflammation due to sugar (our recipes have delicious ways how to incorporate stevia into your diet).
Consuming excess amounts of added sugar has been linked to many negative changes in the body. One study, again looking at sugar-sweetened beverages, found higher amounts of LDL cholesterol (the “bad” kind) in those who consumed sugary drinks.
Furthermore, this type of cholesterol is a marker of cardiovascular disease, along with the previously mentioned C-reactive protein.
Cancer risk is another disease state being studied in relation to sugar intake. One study notes dietary sucrose (a form of sugar) increases colon cancer risk, while another shows similar results, determining fructose (another form of sugar) may be a risk factor for developing fatty liver disease.
While poor nutrition choices have the ability to detract from your health, high-quality ingredients are capable of reducing inflammation and decreasing the risk for some of the chronic diseases previously mentioned.
While reducing your intake of refined sugar and using sugar substitutes, such as Pyure Organic Stevia as a healthier alternative, you should also increase your intake of anti-inflammatory foods.
Foods high in antioxidants, like berries, fish with high omega-3 fat content, including salmon and sardines, and additional anti-inflammatory fats, like those found in nuts, seeds and avocado are great foods to increase while reducing your intake of refined sugar to reduce inflammation in your body.