Too Much Sugar is Linked To Inflammation

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Inflammation is part of the body’s natural healing process.

During injury or infection, the body releases chemicals to help protect it and fight off any harmful organisms. This can cause redness, warmth and swelling.

 

Some foods, like sugar, can also cause inflammation in the body, which is normal.

However, eating too many inflammatory foods may cause chronic low-grade inflammation. This can cause serious health problems, such as heart disease, diabetes, cancer, and allergies.

This article covers all you need to know about the role of sugar and inflammation in the body.

Several animal studies have shown that a diet high in added sugar leads to obesity, insulin resistance, increased gut permeability and low-grade inflammation.

Human studies confirm the link between added sugar and higher inflammatory markers.

A study of 29 healthy people found that consuming only 40 grams of added sugar from just one 375-ml can of soda per day led to an increase in inflammatory markers, insulin resistance and LDL cholesterol. These people tended to gain more weight, too.

Another study in overweight and obese people found that consuming one can of regular soda daily for six months led to increased levels of uric acid, a trigger for inflammation and insulin resistance. Subjects who drank diet soda, milk or water had no increase in uric acid levels.

Drinking sugary drinks can spike inflammation levels. Moreover, this effect can last for a considerable amount of time.

Consuming a 50-gram dose of fructose causes a spike in inflammatory markers like C-reactive protein (CRP) just 30 minutes later. Furthermore, CRP remains high for over two hours.

In addition to added sugar, eating too many refined carbohydrates has also been linked to increased inflammation in humans.

In one study, eating just 50 grams of refined carbs in the form of white bread resulted in higher blood sugar levels and an increase in the inflammatory marker Nf-kB.

Consuming excess added sugar and refined carbohydrates causes several changes in the body, which help explain why a diet high in sugar can lead to chronic, low-grade inflammation.

  • Excess production of AGEs: Advanced glycation end products (AGEs) are harmful compounds that form when protein or fat combine with sugar in the bloodstream. Too many AGEs leads to oxidative stress and inflammation.

  • Increased gut permeability: Bacteria, toxins and undigested food particles can more easily move out of the gut and into the bloodstream, potentially leading to inflammation.

  • Higher “bad” LDL cholesterol: Excess LDL cholesterol has been associated with higher levels of C-reactive protein (CRP), a marker of inflammation.

  • Weight gain: A diet rich in added sugar and refined carbohydrates can lead to weight gain. Excess body fat has been linked to inflammation, partly due to insulin resistance.

It is important to remember that inflammation is unlikely to be caused by sugar alone. Other factors like stress, medication, smoking and excess fat intake can also lead to inflammation.

This article was originally written by  Mary Jane Brown, PhD, RD (UK) on November 12, 2017 for Healthline.com