Halloween is upon us. While there is an inflated risk of injury when out trick or treating with the gang on All Hallow’s Eve, there is an even greater threat that occurs after you’ve dumped your haul of goodies onto the table. Whether you gobble up mini Kit Kats or Tootsie Rolls the underlying threat is found in that oh-so-sweet sugar. You already know that it has no nutritional value, and consuming it causes your blood sugar to spike, but did you know that it can also elevate chronic pain? Keep reading.
How Sugar Increases Chronic Pain and Can Disrupt Physiotherapy Progress
Sugar Causes Inflammation
Numerous studies have proven that excessive consumption of sugar (and other refined carbohydrates) directly causes inflammation in your body. This inflammation leads to chronic pain. If sugar remains to be a consistent part of your diet it will contribute to increased systemic inflammation and a vicious cycle is perpetuated.
How exactly does it all work, without getting into too much science?
When you have an injury, your body signals the immune system to send white blood cells to the affected areas, which is required to repair the injury. Inflammation is a vital part of your body’s response to injury, signaling your immune system to heal and repair damaged tissue. When it heals, inflammation typically dissipates. However, if the inflammatory process is allowed to go on for too long, you have a problem. Extended periods of inflammation can cause constant pain in muscles, tissues, and joints in addition to damaging healthy cells and organs needed to keep the body functioning at it’s optimal capacity. Given that sugar promotes inflammation, ongoing consumption keeps the inflammation process going and chronic pain will persist.
If you’re sore, put down the sweets – it’s that simple.
Sugar Hurts Your Immune System
As noted above, you need a healthy immune system to repair underlying injuries. In fact, it plays a vital role in acute injuries too, such as bone fractures. Think of immune cells as your body’s first responders at the site of injury. They mend your vasculature and initiate various signals needed to recruit cells which carry out essential repair processes.
Data continues to show that spikes in sugar (and other refined carbohydrates) intake suppresses your immune system. When compromised, you reduce your body’s ability to repair a given injury. Even if you are undertaking a faithful physiotherapy regime you do yourself a disservice by consuming excessive amounts of sugar.
Once again the implications are clear – sugar is the enemy of injury and chronic pain rehabilitation.
Enjoy your Halloween goodies in moderation folks!