Can Sugar Cause Joint Pain?

FoodieFactor – Pixabay

Introduction

Can sugar cause joint pain?  Why would you care?  Well, if you have pain and like sugar, you might want to read further.

We hear and read that sugar is a bad thing.  In my head I know this. In my mouth; not so much.  I said before in another post that I know it is related to inflammation.  And that I am addicted. And that I need to give it up. But why? And how?  

Don’t read this article if you don’t want to fix your sugar addiction.  I researched this kicking and screaming.  

Why am I writing this article?  Because I’ve read, however superficially, that sugar can cause inflammation.  So I decided to get to the bottom of this claim. If that is really the case, then what am I going to do about it?  Because if sugar makes my pain worse, then I should do something. Because I have chronic pain and want to find natural remedies and relief to my pain.

What is sugar?

To quote Wikipedia, “ Sugar is the generic name for sweet-tasting, soluble carbohydrates, many of which are used in food.”  If an ingredient ends in the letters “ose”, it is a sugar.  We are most familiar with sugar made from the sugar cane plant.  I was shocked to read that this product is the ninth most valuable crop harvested in the world.  Most processed foods (i.e. foods not in a natural state) contain sugar.  

Sugar is a natural part of many food groups, like fruit, vegetables and milk.  Our bodies convert sugars to energy. If we have too much sugar in our system, the body stores it as fat.  If you want a deeper explanation of sugar see this article called Understanding Sugars

Do you have inflammation?

First of all, I needed to understand exactly what inflammation is.  I hear it a lot. In my mind it implies an area of my body that is “on fire”. A helpful definition for me from Study.com was, “a series of defensive biological reactions to harmful agents that leads to pain, redness, and swelling, and heat in the affected areas of the body.”  Our amazing bodies have the ability to fight harmful enemies that attack them. And one way they fight is with inflammation. So that’s a good thing, right?  

Yes.  But not if it is chronic inflammation.  Chronic inflammation is caused by disease like diabetes or heart disease.  It appears to be part of rheumatoid arthritis and fibromyalgia. And if a nerve is injured, secondary problems like inflammation may result.  

My condition is caused by spinal stenosis.  The pain I have in my buttock is very similar to sciatica pain, from what I understand.  When I am at my worst, the pain can go into my upper thigh. It used to go into my calf, but the stretching and exercises I do have helped relieve that.  

The research I have done states that my pain might be a result of inflammation, or at least exacerbated by it.  It is important to know if your pain involves inflammation. But I’m not sure how to find that out. Perhaps talking with your doctor may clarify this. 

I found this medical abstract that suggests there are studies being done to link inflammation to neurological pain.  This is an exciting time to be alive as research advances in this area.  

From my research I understand that inflammatory arthritis is a type of arthritis so if you suffer from that, then inflammation is an issue for you.  Rheumatoid arthritis is where the body’s immune system attacks its own joints and causes pain. Inflammation is involved here also. Ask your doctor if your pain might be related to inflammation.  If so, then read on to see how you might help yourself.

nattanan23 – Pixabay

How does sugar affect inflammation?

In my research I was surprised that I couldn’t find more scientific support for the relationship of sugar to inflammation.  It seems it is just stated without research backup. The closest thing I could find was an article that stated that, “Sugar stimulates the production of free fatty acids in the liver. When the body digests these free fatty acids, the resulting compounds can trigger inflammatory processes.” (Medical News Today) See their article, Does Sugar Cause Inflammation in the Body?  

Our bodies seem to see sugar as an attacking enemy and start the immune system working.  Our immune system sends out the troops to fight the enemy and that process can produce heat, swelling and pain.  If this process is triggered to be ongoing, it results in chronic inflammation and therefore pain.

Since I couldn’t find any studies that showed a clear association of sugar with inflammation, I’m going out on a limb to say that I think sugar does affect inflammation. 

I’m looking at it this way; the sugar feeds the bad cells and our body has to attack those guys. In the attack, swelling, heat and white cells are formed. Hence inflammation.  I know that’s not very scientific, but it’s the best I can do to understand this.  

Then to answer my question in the title; yes, sugar can cause joint pain.  

Dr. Manuel Gonzalez Reyes

How is sugar making your feel bad? 

So, if we can assume that sugar and inflammation are related, then the first way sugar makes you feel bad is by causing inflammation.  And inflammation may cause pain. So I’m going to challenge myself to cut back or cut out sugar.

There are other ways sugar is making you feel bad.  You also probably know how sugar can affect people with diabetes by raising their blood glucose.  Prolonged high blood sugar can lead to all sorts of problems for diabetics, including blindness and loss of limbs.  Too much of it is related to weight gain. It appears to be related to heart disease. And it ages you! I’m vain enough to be motivated to stop eating sugar just for that reason! 🙂

So What?

You think you ought to cut down on sugar?  Or cut it out?  

Only you can make the call.  I do recommend that you start out slowly, with small changes.  From experience I know that making little changes raises my success rate in sticking to those changes.  For example; I just had intestinal surgery. I was told to start walking immediately, but very small amounts.  So I just walked around my room for a few days. Then down the hall. Then back and forth in the hall. Then a fourth of a mile out in the parking lot.  You get the picture. I’m up to one to two miles a day now.  

Here is another article which helped me to cut down on my sugar called Everything You Need to Know About Sugar.  It helped me make some changes in my sugar consumption.  I like that it recommends baby steps.

Here’s another great article with 14 Simple Ways to Stop Eating Sugar.  It’s very informative and helpful.

What Should I Eat?

While there are seemingly millions of options to choose from, finding the right food plan for yourself is a challenge.  

I have promised myself that I am cutting back on sugar as of the beginning of this week when I started the article.  And I have. But oh the cravings! I personally am finding it helpful to:

Stevepb – Pixabay
  1. Drink water 
  2. Snack on protein  
  3. Have fruit on hand when a sweet craving hits.  
  4. Let some time pass.  The craving usually goes away.

But you might have to approach it differently.  

I found a post that has some really interesting looking recipes that promise to cut down on inflammation.  Click on this link of 15 Inflammation Fighting Recipes.  I haven’t tried any yet, but plan to.  The cold brew ice cream recipe calls for sugar though!

Is Atkins Diet a possibility?  Yes, it is. Since the basis for this diet is a low carb diet, than you are going to avoid most foods that have sugar in them.  This diet became popular in the 1970s after Dr. Atkins promoted his book based on this diet. It has since been researched to show that it is a successful weight loss diet.  But it can be a successful plan to follow if you want to cut out sugars. Google Atkins Diet if you want more information.

Is Keto the way to go?  As far as I can see, the Keto Diet and the Atkins Diet are the same.  I recommend you google this term if you are interested in more information.

I am on a low grain diet due to my stomach issues.  I have found my stomach issues have improved and I have lost weight.  Losing weight was a secondary concern for me. I mean, I needed to lose, but more than that, I wanted my intestinal pain to stop.  It has. This diet isn’t one you will find anywhere. My gastroenterologist told me that diverticulitis came on the scene when humans started to mill grains.  So, I figured cutting out grains might make a difference. It has.  

What Else?

I’ve found at least two articles that highlight how important sleep is to overcome sugar addiction.  But is you are a pain sufferer, you are probably challenged by getting a good night’s sleep in the first place.  I know! Me too! I’ve written an article about this topic. See this link.  

I like this guy, The Herbal Pharmacist, David Foreman, because his approach is toward the natural remedies.  Watch this interview where he recommends some products for inflammation.

I am also considering joining a support group online or a forum with fellow sugar addicts.  I know from experience having someone else support me in my struggles, as well as being accountable to them, is very important.  It also increases your success rate.

Conclusion

You have some other ideas for success?  Or comments about what I have written?  Please leave them here.  Your comments and ideas will help others.  

Disclaimer

I am not a medical professional so please see your doctor if you have any questions after reading this article.

Sometimes I have affiliate links to products which I recommend.  I have no such links in this post.

Wealthy Affiliate

Wealthy Affiliate is the platform I use to create my websites.  (My other site is helpfulresourcesforseniors.com)  Being able to build websites with the goal of helping people and earning money is a perfect option for someone like me who has chronic pain and a senior citizen.  Should you be interested in that, click here.  Should you decide to join I will be your mentor and will receive a referral fee payment.  Thank you.

Pain Management of Chronic Pain

Is there such a thing as pain management for pain?  Why would you want to manage your pain?  Read more to find out.

Introduction

Feeling down because you have pain?  Me too! It is often a challenge to get out of bed, because I know my day will start with pain.  You too? I just read a post that stated one-third of Americans live with chronic pain. That’s like 100 million.  And you thought you were the only one!  

Because I live with chronic pain, I am constantly researching new information to make my life more livable.  Then I use the information to create posts that I hope will be helpful to others as well.

The following information is from several articles I have researched.  It is from articles I have read in a continuous search for relief from pain.  These topics only scratch the surface, so read some of my other posts to gain more information.

The following topics are some of the most popular t remedies to manage pain.

Pain Management of Chronic Pain
MabelAmber/Pixabay

Walking

Movement is vital to those of us in pain.  However, it goes against what we feel like doing.  Usually what I feel like doing is nothing. But that is the exact opposite of what I should do.  

Walking is still one of the best exercises we can do.  It is low impact and a natural activity. There are days when it hurts me to walk.  But then it hurts for me to do pretty much anything. So I figure I may as well get out and move as not.  

In my other posts you will note the benefits of exercise that I talk about.  My post, Exercises for Back Pain is one of them.  I suggest you take a look to see if it would be helpful for you.

Start with just a few minutes.  That’s what I had to do. It seemed sort of silly to put on my sneakers for just a 10 minute walk.  But you have to start somewhere. Maybe you have to start with 5 minutes.  

I have to attest that walking can help.  Just today I woke up with pain. About a level 6.  But I went walking with a friend, and by the time I got back it was down to a 2.  Yeah, it hurt to walk at first, but the longer I did it, the better I felt.

Now, my acupuncturist tells me that sometimes walking isn’t good.  So, you should consult with your doctor(s) and find what is best for you.  But most of the time movement is good. Dr. Chang (acupuncturist) told me that the exercise increases the circulation to the body and that helps with the pain.  

Keep a Record

I like this article that I found because it suggests keeping a log of your walks.  I track mine on an app on my phone. There are many out there. I like the Endomondo app.  It’s free for the basic app, which is what I use. Research shows that tracking your exercise can keep you motivated.  I like to review my exercise records because it makes me feel like I did something productive and proactive to manage my pain.  I think you will find this to be true for yourself.  

As you get into a regular routine you can increase the time, and/or distance.  That article has other suggestions and information including all the benefits you’ll experience, some thoughts to be aware of, and ideas to keep you going.  

You know it helps to have a buddy to walk with.  Since I live in a senior complex, many of my neighbors walk, and at a pace I can maintain.  This is very helpful. It keeps you accountable and encouraged. It also helps to tell someone what your goals are so that you have committed it publicly. This helps with motivation.  

This article was very honest and helpful.  I recommend reading it a few times to get yourself up and moving.  Get Off Your Butt: 16 Ways to Get Motivated When You’re in a Slump.  

Stretches

I have several articles that can help you with this.  I’m not going to rewrite or plagiarize them. I’ll give you the links.  

Let me just say that stretches have made all the difference in my pain management.  In my mind I am visualizing lengthening those muscles and tendons that are tight from the pain.  And maybe pulling off the nerve, so it is not pressing on the nerve. I have reviewed two DVDs that I use.  See the links here. (Review of Gentle Yoga with Jane Adams, Review of Emily Lark’s Back to Life)

Other articles that might be helpful are the following: (click on the title, it will take you to the link)

8 Simple Stretches to Relieve Back Pain (I use some of these on an almost daily basis. I highly recommend them.)

A Surgeon Reveals Exercises That Heal Your Spine Before It’s Too Late (These seem a bit harder, so be careful.)

Exercise: 12 Workouts For Lower Back Pain (Some of the same as the 8 Simple ones above; try them both, see what works for you.)

Tai Chi

I don’t know enough about this practice to write about it, but it has come up in my radar twice within the last 24 hours.  So I did a little research. (And by the way, doesn’t it seem that the Chinese know something about health? Yoga, acupuncture, Tai Chi, longevity; I think they have something here.)  It is referred to as “moving meditation”. That alone involves two concepts I recommend for managing pain.

It can generally improve balance and movement.  It apparently has a positive impact on other health concerns like hypertension and brain function.

So I think it is worth investigating.  This article recommends you seek out a class to make sure you are doing it correctly.  I plan on investigating this more also.

Are You Tired of Me Mentioning Movement?

Well, sorry.  But this is so important.  Plus I know for a fact that this is a natural pain remedy.  Find what’s right for you. Perhaps you have a different practice.  What is it? I would love to hear from you. You will be helping others too.

I am open to hearing about different forms of movement.  And willing to research them. Everyday is an opportunity to learn more.  Your comments are key for that to happen. So please comment. 

Here’s a great video that reinforces much of what I have researched in my journey.  The Pharmacist does promote a product, but the other information he communicates is very helpful.  I plan on investigating his philosophy/products in the future.

 

Someone to Check Out

I have found a new personality to follow while I continue investigations.  He is Dr. David Foreman, aka the Herbal Pharmacist. He no longer works in the pharmaceutical industry, but instead promotes what he calls The Four Pillars of Health.  

These Pillars are:

  • Diet
  • Exercise
  • Supplements
  • Spirituality

He has been featured on all sorts of television stations and has his own website, Herbalpharmacist.com.  I highly recommend you go to his website and explore it.  There is a wealth of information. Plus I feel he is very down to earth, easy to understand and humble.   For those of you that are Christian, as am I, I was thrilled to note that he is also.

Foods

Now that you see that Dr. Foreman promotes exercise, I want to discuss one of his other pillars; diet.

I admit I am not where I need to be when it comes to food.  I am addicted to sugar. And sugar is one of the worst foods for people in pain.  Apparently it increases inflammation which is related to pain. So I know I need to break my addiction.  I am promising myself right now, today, that I shall begin to do so. I am promising you. Please comment and ask me how I’m doing.  If I have success, you know I will be writing about it. (When you see Dr. Foreman in a video he looks so healthy! I am sure it is because he doesn’t eat sugar.  And he is in his 50s!)  

So in one of his interviews he gave advice on healthy snacking.  Some suggestions are:

  • Eat more protein for a snack.  This helps the body build muscle.  Some ideas include, peanuts, edamame, and beans.  How much protein do we need? He said we should consume 1 gram of protein for every pound we weigh.  Protein contains essential amino acids which are necessary for our body to maintain itself.
  • Vegetables should be increased in your diet.  Ideally we should have veggies at each meal. And being in a hurry or on the go is no excuse for not getting veggies, since you can grab a salad or veggie cup almost anywhere.
  • Make sure to add berries to your diet.  Although blueberries are considered a super-food, all berries contain vitamins that keep us healthy.
  • Eat avocados which contain healthy fat and are packed with vitamins. (They are awfully expensive right now though!)
  • And finally, although it does contain sugar, dark chocolate is actually good for you.  It has a high amount of antioxidants (which fight disease) and apparently lowers the risk of heart problems.  
Silviarita/Pixabay

Why am I listing these foods in a pain management article?  Because if you are taking good care of your body by giving it the nutrients it needs it will function at its best.  Don’t you want that? Improving your diet is an easy fix to help you feel better. Why wouldn’t you do it?

Let’s do this together.  Comment on this post so we can encourage each other.

Comments Please

Throughout this article, I have asked you to comment.  The success of my posts depend on your interaction. I welcome questions and concerns.  If I am wrong about something I have said in this article I want to be corrected. Or if you have a product that has helped you, I want to hear about it.  I could be featured in an article and others may benefit.  

Thanks for your time!

Disclaimer

I am not a doctor or health professional; this information is provided from my research.  Please check with your doctor before you start any exercise program.

Also, sometimes I have affiliate links to products I recommend.  I do not have any in this article.

Should you be interested in how I came to build my website, you can click here and learn about Wealthy Affiliate.  I will receive a referral fee if you join.  I will also be your mentor.