Sugar and Inflammation

By Andrea Nakayama, www.replenishpdx.com
April 10, 2014 Updated: June 28, 2015

I love when my work flows together—when this teaching leads to that concept, and all of a sudden another piece of the health puzzle comes into crisp focus.

That’s the experience I’ve had last year. I had just taught an immune intensive class as part of my Holistic Nutrition Lab training for health coaches, and a few short days later, I co-lead the You’re Not the Boss of Me! detox with superstar Canadian chef, Ricki Heller.

In the week between, I got to sit in the middle of the two worlds of immunity and sugar. I connected the dots and found the excellent melding of the two—sensibility that blended as beautifully as cacao and almond butter, or apples and cinnamon, leading to the purity of one of those aha moments.

The amalgamation of the realms of immunity and sugar lead to one place: inflammation—the ultimate sugar bomb.

Let’s start with inflammation

Thousands of years ago the Romans described the major components of inflammation: calor (heat), rubor (redness), tumor (swelling), and dolor (pain).

All four of these symptoms are due to increased blood supply to the infected area.

Then comes the bomb.

Inflammation is a key part of the immune response and as we now hear more and more, it’s the root cause of all disease. Diseases such as heart disease, diabetes, Alzheimer’s, autoimmune disorders, and cancer are linked back to chronic and invisible inflammation that lies just below the body’s pain threshold. But inflammation is also to blame for these common health challenges: body aches and pains, congestion, irregular elimination, indigestion, skin outbreaks, frequent infections, advanced aging, arthritis, weight gain, and weight loss resistance.

That’s stuff that’s effecting just about all of us!

So how do you turn off the heat, redness, swelling, and pain when you might not even know it’s there?

Now let’s talk about sugar.

The cool thing about diet is that it’s, well, cooling! Diet has the power to either turn up the heat or put out the fires—those fires of inflammation.

Foods can either be pro-inflammatory, exciting those states of chronic disease, or foods can be anti-inflammatory, suppressing that entire response.

The coolest part is that you make the vote!

Sugar causes a rise in your blood sugar. A rise in your blood sugar releases the bomb, resulting in a burst of inflammatory chemicals that spread throughout the cells in your body like wildfire.

There are many of these inflammatory chemicals, including ones you might have heard about like histamine, prostaglandins, kinins, and interleukins. These chemicals cause the inflammatory fallout, a cascade of internal responses that require your immune system to try to go do some nonstop wildfire cleanup.

But the effects of sugar don’t just hit you on a cellular level. They bonk you over the head on a psychological level as well, locking you in a yo-yo pattern of deprivation and indulgence that you just can’t seem to break, doing damage to your poor psyche and your cells.

By addressing your psychological ties to sugar you not only find peace of mind in your ability to end an addictive relationship with your snack-attacks, but you also find the peace of mind that you’re putting your body’s fire department to work, quelling the inflammation that can lead to increased risk of disease and accelerated aging.

With a career born of a personal family health crisis, functional nutritionist Andrea Nakayama takes the idea of food as personalized medicine beyond a clinical practice. Her online programs at ReplenishPDX.com and HolisticNutritionLab.com guide her clients in taking ownership over their health. Info@replenishpdx.com.

 

Image of macarons via Shutterstock

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