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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.

 

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Sitting Sucks!

I'm often asked by patients about what they can do to prevent acute or chronic back pain.  Moving every day is vital! Not just rolling out of bed, sitting in your car while driving to work, sitting 8-10 hours at work, then sitting again on your commute home, and sitting on the couch to watch TV before bed.  As a nation in general, we sit too much, hence the new "sitting is the new smoking" campaign.  Sitting diseases are a real thing.  We just aren't moving enough anymore. There's even a #sittingisthenewsmoking hashtag!

Sitting diseases are shown to reduce your life expectancy.

What are sitting diseases:

  • Type 2 diabetes
  • Cardiovascular disease
  • Breast and colon cancers

You also have an increased risk of:

  • Forward head posture
  • Forward rounded shoulders
  • Hyperlordosis
  • Thoracic hyperkyphosis
  • Tight psoas = low back pain
  • Deconditioned core and spinal musculature

Your chances of developing a sitting disease increases the more sedentary you are.

For more information, check out this article I wrote titled, 'Standing up for your Health' in 2012.


<div xmlns:cc="http://creativecommons.org/ns#" xmlns:dct="http://purl.org/dc/terms/" about="http://www.juststand.org/tabid/674/default.aspx"><span property="dct:title">Sitting Disease Infographic 1</span> (<a rel="cc:attributionURL" property="cc:attributionName" href="http://www.ergotron.com">Ergotron</a>) / <a rel="license" href="http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/">CC BY 3.0</a></div>

<div xmlns:cc="http://creativecommons.org/ns#" xmlns:dct="http://purl.org/dc/terms/" about="http://www.juststand.org/tabid/674/default.aspx"><span property="dct:title">Sitting Disease Infographic 1</span> (<a rel="cc:attributionURL" property="cc:attributionName" href="http://www.ergotron.com">Ergotron</a>) / <a rel="license" href="http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/">CC BY 3.0</a></div>

What Can You Do?

1. Change your desk!

Alternatives to traditional desks:

  • Standing desks
  • Treadmill desks
  • Half kneeling at your desk

Benefits:

  • Improved posture
  • Improved blood flow
  • Possible increase in productivity and energy levels
  • Burn more calories

2. Bike/Walk to work if at all possible.  If not daily, then try a few days per week

3. Set a timer to get up every 30 minutes to stretch and move around.  Many new activity trackers will alert you when you've been inactive for a certain period of time.

4. Get up during commercials at home to do chores or perform squats, jumping jacks, etc.

Next blog topic will cover stretches and specific exercises to keep your spinal muscles and joints healthy!

*Main image source: http://www.precisionnutrition.com/sitting-standing-walking-work

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