High Sugar Leads to All Kinds of Problems

Nurse Practitioner Marcelle Pick writes, “At our medical practice we are convinced that the seeds of chronic inflammation (and a lot of other health issues) start with the gut. Intestinal bloating, frequent bouts of diarrhea or constipation, gas and pain, heartburn and acid reflux are early signs of an inflamed digestive tract. For most people, high-carb, low-protein diets are inflammatory. We’ve seen repeatedly that low-carb diets reduce inflammation for most women. Refined sugar and other foods with high-glycemic values jack up insulin levels and put the immune system on high alert. (The glycemic index measures the immediate impact of a food on blood sugar levels; surges of blood sugar trigger the release of insulin.) Short-lived hormones inside our cells called eicosanoids act as pro- or anti-inflammatory compounds depending on their type. Eicosanoids become imbalanced—that is, skewed toward pro-inflammatory—when insulin levels are high. As if this weren’t enough, high insulin levels activate enzymes that raise levels of arachidonic acid in our blood. So the first step in cooling inflammation on a cellular level is to pay attention to your diet, in particular your glycemic load (a measure of the glycemic index and portion of a food), essential fatty acid intake, and food sensitivities.”

In response to high sugar intake the body is flooded with insulin and stress hormones. These inundate the blood supply triggering the inflammation process that creates stress and pain on your organs and joints. The less sugar a person eats the less inflammation they will experience, and the stronger their immune system will be to protect from infectious and degenerative diseases. Many things can lead to chronic joint pain, but more often than not, inflammation is the cause, with sugars being its greatest antagonist. The pain people feel in stiff, achy joints is your body’s way of letting you know that inflammation exists.

Two major studies, the Diabetes Control and Complications Trial (DCCT) of 1993 and the United Kingdom Prospective Diabetes Study (UKPDS) of 1998, have demonstrated that hyperglycemia is the causative etiology for diabetic retinopathy. Hyperglycemia causes microvascular changes that in turn result in retinopathy. Angiogenesis is stimulated when hypoxic, diseased, or injured tissues produce and release angiogenic promoters such as vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) or fibroblast growth factor (FGF)-1. These angiogenic factors stimulate the migration and proliferation of endothelial cells in existing vessels and, subsequently, the formation of capillary tubes and the recruitment of other cell types to generate and stabilise new blood vessels. There is increasing evidence that inflammation has a central role in the pathophysiology of diabetic retinopathy.

Get an oil change. Swap saturated and trans-fats for olive oil,
which has potent anti-inflammatory properties, or
polyunsaturated fats, especially omega-3 fats from fish.
Harvard’s Recipe for Inflammation

Researchers in China who have been studying the inhibitory effects of polysaccharide extract from Spirulina platensis on corneal neovascularization have a lot to say on the application of natural angiogenic inhibitors.[1undefined] In this study medical scientists demonstrated anti-angiogenic and anti-inflammation properties of polysaccharides from spirulina. They confirmed that the anti-angiogenic effects of spirulina were mediated by interference with the proliferation, migration, and tube formation of vascular endothelial cells in vitro. Spirulina dramatically decreased the levels of phosphorylated AKT and ERK1/2 in endothelial cells. Both of these protein kinases are involved in the angiogenic process.

High levels of blood sugar, or glucose, react with proteins to produce advanced glycation end products (AGES). Fructose in the blood produces these inflammatory compounds more than ten times faster. That is why fructose is a bad sweetener for diabetics and everyone else. Staying away from high-glycemic (simple) carbohydrates, which the body rapidly converts to sugar, is one of the best ways to decrease inflammation.

“Sugar can play a role in inflammatory diseases,” says Dave Grotto a spokesperson for the American Dietetic Association. “Poor regulation of glucose and insulin is a breeding ground for inflammation.” Dr. David Servan-Schreiber writes, “Insulin production triggers inflammation. Those who eat low-sugar Asian diets tend to have 5-10 times fewer hormonally driven cancers than those with diets high in sugar and refined foods. People who want to protect themselves from cancer should reduce their consumption of processed sugar and bleached flour.”

Cutting sugar intake and increasing protein, fiber, and fat (good fat) intake can help the body produce less insulin, lower inflammation and still provide the necessary required nutrients for healthy bodily functioning. Eating sugar with protein and/or fat and fiber will help slow down the sugar metabolism process, thus helping your body process sugar in a healthier manner. Too much sugar, without enough protein, fat, and fiber, will cause imbalance of nutritional intake, which in turn will lead to insulin overproduction, insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes.

[1] Molecular Vision 2009; 15:1951-1961 <http://www.molvis.org/molvis/v15/a208 > Received 27 April 2009 Accepted 21 September 2009 Published 24 September 2009