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Sugar and Pain

Have you heard all of the news about sugar lately?  Some sources are even saying that sugar is far more harmful to our bodies than fat!   Whether you are in chronic or acute pain, sugar may play an important role in the inflammatory process, which may be contributing to your persistent symptoms.  Read on to find out more!

Excess sugar in the blood leads to a pathological process, called glycation. Glycation is the process of sugar molecules adhering to fascial proteins, causing stiffness and thickening (Cameron, 2014).  Robert Lustig, MD has become an anti-sugar advocate, exposing just how toxic sugar is.  See his presentation, "Sugar: The Bitter Truth" here.  Dr. Lustig has published several peer reviewed research articles regarding sugar and its connection to degenerative diseases.  Throughout his research, Dr. Lustig has concluded that about 75% of all diseases in America are in fact, preventable.  UCLA conducted a study on the impacts of fructose and high fructose corn syrup on the brain.   The professor of neurosurgery concluded that, "eating a high-fructose diet over the long term alters your brain's ability to learn and remember information" (Schmidt, 2012).  Based on the research study, he believes that "eating too much fructose could block insulin's ability to regulate how cells use and store sugar for the energy required for processing thoughts and emotions". 

Dr. Teitelbaum has written many books on chronic pain and is currently a medical director at a fibromyalgia center.  He notes that, “Sugar aggravates low blood sugar and adrenal problems, yeast (Candida) overgrowth, and nutritional deficiencies that worsen fibromyalgia,”.  He has seen patients experience a decrease in their pain, a sharper memory and more energy after coming off of sugar in as little as 10 days.

The Oxford Journal of Rheumatology performed a 2 year study, and found that 45% of patients had an increase in symptoms after consuming sweets and refined sugar.

Not only does sugar cause rapid spikes in blood sugar levels, release of cytokines (inflammatory messengers), and contributes to your risks of developing diabetes, it also attacks cells and tissues in the body.  The sugar and inflammation/chronic pain connection has been researched more and more over the past several years.  Many medical providers are advising all patients to reduce their sugar intake, now more than ever before.  White flour and other simple carbohydrates break down into sugar, so it is essential to eliminate/reduce actual sugar, along with white flour.  Chronic low grade inflammation, greatly contributes to atherosclerosis, strokes, memory loss, and more scary health conditions.

Common chronic conditions negatively affected by sugar:

  • fibromyalgia
  • arthritis
  • autoimmune conditions
  • leaky gut
  • adrenal fatigue
  • strokes
  • peripheral artery disease
  • irritable bowel disease (IBD)
  • arthritic conditions
  • colon cancer
  • diabetes
  • cataracts
  • poor memory
  • heart disease
  • osteoporosis

As you can see, sugar is not only costly to the human body, but also on the economy.  An estimated 40% of healthcare costs are due to excessive sugar intake (and this is probably a low estimate).  When you make the commitment to quit sugar for good, you will realize just how sweet today's foods are!  Sugar is addictive, don't get me wrong, but the more we consume, the more we crave it, like a drug.  There are several resources online that can help you to wean yourself off of sugar, and structured programs and books, such as the "21 Day Sugar Detox".  I remember seeing a baking tip years ago, that you could half the amount of sugar in any recipe and not notice a difference.  Since I've gone Paleo, I use honey or coconut sugar in recipes, but they usually only call for a few tablespoons, not multiple cups of refined white sugar!  After eliminating sugar and you taste sweet things that you used to crave constantly, you will realize just how sweet and sugar laden they were.

Consider going cold-turkey, signing up for a monthly sugar detox, or start tracking your daily meals, just to see how much sugar you are consuming!  Many products contain sugar, that you might not realize, such as: ketchup, salad dressings, yogurt, dried/dehydrated fruit, sauces, and more. 

If your pain is not going away with over the counter products or routine care, consider eliminating sugar from your diet!  Chiropractic and other holistic forms of healthcare can help to resolve musculoskeletal conditions with a proper assessment, diagnosis and treatment plan, but sugar may be hindering your progress and overall health and well being.  Remember, things labeled as "sugar free", are not necessarily better alternatives, if they contain harmful artificial sweeteners; always check the label and choose minimally processed foods.




My First Paleo Thanksgiving

After being diagnosed with an autoimmune condition last year, this was my first gluten/dairy/soy/corn/peanut free Thanksgiving!  What that means? No boxed stuffing, canned cranberry, etc.  Everything will be made from scratch, and I think it will be even better tasting!

I got the smallest organic turkey I could find and planned ahead and found recipes beforehand.  My biggest fear was all of the extra time it would take to prepare freshly made fixings, but isn't that what the holidays are about? Taking the extra time to make a good tasting, healthy meal?  Things made from scratch always taste better, don't they? And they didn't take that long to prepare either!

The biggest changes were dairy free green bean casserole with freshly fried onions, homemade stuffing with gluten free bread, dairy/gluten/soy free pumpkin and apple pies, yams/mashed potatoes with ghee and coconut milk.  We'll see if my guests can taste the difference! 

Here's what I made! (Everything was so delicious, I forgot to take a picture of the fresh green bean casserole!).  Making the fresh mushroom soup with coconut milk was actually super quick and easy!

Freshly fried onions in coconut oil, homemade mushroom soup, gluten free homemade stuffing, organic turkey!

Freshly fried onions in coconut oil, homemade mushroom soup, gluten free homemade stuffing, organic turkey!

This is the one item that I purchased! A vegan apple pie from New Cascadia gluten free bakery in Portland!

This is the one item that I purchased! A vegan apple pie from New Cascadia gluten free bakery in Portland!

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Fresh onions fried in coconut oil!

Fresh onions fried in coconut oil!

Crispy and delicious!

Crispy and delicious!



Why I'm Still Eating Meat

The latest hot topic in the news is about meat consumption being linked to an increase risk of developing colorectal cancer.  If you would've asked me a few years ago, I probably would have agreed with that.  I became a pescatarian a few years ago, and eliminated all meat from my diet.  I thought I was doing the right thing for my health.  I was consuming large amounts of lentils, legumes and soy products to try to get enough protein in my diet.  But, after being diagnosed with an autoimmune condition, my diet had to change.  The amount of soy I was eating was actually making my condition worse, and the lentils/legumes were making my already weakened and inflammed digestive system work even harder.  There is a huge difference in meat products out there.  "Eating clean" has become a popular phrase in the nutrition world.  Eating meat, and eating clean meat, are 2 different things.  Where your food comes from matters; buy cheap, get cheap.

  • The study wasn't performed specifically on humans, nor did it look at the consumption of vegetables with the protein.  It did not look at what people eat with their meat (is it french fries and soda, is it cheap bacon on an Egg McMuffin? Or vegetables and healthy carbs and fats?)
  • "the association of CRC risk with processed red meat may be stronger than that with fresh red meat" (Santarelli, et al., 2008)
  • The WHO (World Health Organization), released in a statement the other day that, "Processed meat refers to meat that has been transformed through salting, curing, fermentation, smoking, or other processes to enhance flavour or improve preservation" (AKA: adding unhealthy, unnatural flavors and chemicals to give "meat" a certain flavor.  This can mean adding gluten, loads of salt, sugar, high fructose corn syrup, nitrates, nitrites etc.)
  • Here's a link to a full text study that was used in the recent published statement from the WHO: Processed meat and colorectal cancer: a review of epidemiologic and experimental evidence

Previous news also stated: (which have been proven false):

  • to reduce your cholesterol intake and take a statin
  • choose low fat products (remember Snack Wells!?) (Low fat and low carb diets have been proven not to be effective long term)
  • don't eat egg yolks; reduce cholesterol
  • eat more whole grains; 6-11 servings per day of bread, cereal, pasta, rice (this is what the current food pyramid suggests!)

What's wrong with processed meats:

  • nitrates
  • curing
  • added sugar
  • smoked flavor
  • high temperature smoking techniques
  • nitrates/nitrites
  • soy/gluten/corn are often added to processed meats (those are bad!)
  • when you eat meat, you're more likely to eat cheese, french fries, drink beer/soda, and have no veggies included with your meal, and no, ketchup doesn't count as a vegetable

What I eat for protein:

  • Clean Meat!
  • uncured, no sugar added organic bacon
  • no nitrates or nitrites
  • organic hormone free chicken
  • organic grass fed beef
  • nothing with gluten/dairy/corn/soy
  • organic, cage free brown eggs
  • wild caught salmon/shrimp
  • a wide variety of vegetables, fruit, lactose free ghee, and healthy fats

I'm finally getting enough protein into my diet, I feel better, and my autoimmune condition is under control, with the food I eat.

What you choose to put into your body can have countless effects.  If you prefer to eat junk food and low nutritional value foods, you can expect some risks to come along with that type of lifestyle.  I choose to eat a relatively clean diet, as mentioned above.  My autoimmune condition is under control, I have tons of energy and am not on any medications.  Food can be used as medicine!  Always check the ingredients and make smart choices as much as possible.  Do your research and question where your food is coming from.


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