You can view the first part of this series here: The Ketogenic Diet Part 1: What is Keto?
Sugar and inflammation go hand in hand. Simply put: When you eat sugar, your body gets inflamed.
Here’s all you need to know about the relationship between sugar and inflammation, and how it affects your health: insulin, weight gain and health conditions, like diabetes, included.
How does sugar cause inflammation?
Sugar and inflammation are like peanut butter and jelly, a packaged deal.
- After you eat excess carbohydrates (sugar) and/or too much protein, your blood glucose (sugar) remains at a higher level longer because the glucose (sugar) can’t make it into the cells of the muscles.
- This toxic glucose (sugar) is like tar in the bloodstream, clogging arteries, binding with proteins to form damaging AGEs (advanced glycation end-products), and causing inflammation in the body.
- Insulin levels also go up. (Insulin is the hormone that carries sugar to your cells to use as energy).
What happens when you have high levels of inflammation & sugar in the body?
High inflammation is triggered by glucose intake (sugar) (even fruit sugar), which ignites a domino-effect reaction in your body.
- High levels of glucose (sugar) causes triglycerides to go up, increasing your risk for coronary artery disease.
- Then, these sugars (and starches) get stored as fat. Your body tissues form a crust over top of them (called glycation), and are unable to metabolize (use) the sugar.
- Additionally, you can’t burn stored fat since insulin stops the production of the fat-burning enzyme lipase! You also become “insulin resistant” (unable to use sugar, found in insulin, effectively).
You can exercise all you want, but if you continue to eat oatmeal before your workouts, you will never be a fat-burner. You will remain a sugar-burner, continue to crave sugar, and continue to become insulin (sugar) resistant.
What happens when you become “insulin resistant?”
Insulin resistance, or insulin sensitivity, is real.
If the above information about sugar and inflammation isn’t bad enough, I have more bad news: when you’re insulin resistant, the pancreas begins to mistakenly believe, “if a little insulin isn’t working, I’ll just produce more!”
Insulin invites even MORE sugar into your body and elevates blood sugar, resulting in:
- Cell Damage. Cellular damage, cancers, plaque buildup in the arteries (which is why diabetics are more likely to have heart disease) and many other inflammatory issues.
- Destroyed Nerve Tissue, causing tingling and retinopathy, which in turn cause glaucoma and cause you to lose your eyesight.
- Block Proteins Out. Not only does insulin resistance block glucose from entering muscle cells, but the crust we have formed over our cells also blocks amino acids from entering.
How does more insulin from sugar and inflammation affect your muscle mass?
Amino acids are the building blocks for our muscles and are synthesized from proteins. Due to increased insulin (and blocked proteins), you can’t even maintain your muscle mass. Your muscles become cannibalistic (they break down).
Because your body thinks there is not enough stored sugar in the cells, it sends signals to start to break down valuable muscle tissue (“gluconeogenesis”).
So, where does that leave us?
Instead of feeling energetic after you eat, you feel tired, and you crave more carbohydrates.
Since you now have less muscle, exercise is getting too darn difficult, and the sad cycle continues.
Because of everything your body has been through up to this point, thyroid disorders can also occur.
When your liver becomes insulin resistant, it can’t convert thyroid hormone T4 into the T3, and you get those unexplained “thyroid problems,” which continue to lower your energy and your metabolism.
What should I eat to reduce inflammation?
Many folks claim that they are on an anti-inflammatory, low-sugar diet…but are not fully aware of what an “anti-inflammatory” diet means.
Do they think that since they replaced table sugar with fruit that they’ve reduced inflammation?
Sure, someone with a healthy metabolism may be able to handle more fruit than someone with chronic pain, but you still stimulate sugary taste buds and sugar stores.
A truly effective anti-inflammatory diet requires cutting out all sugar, starch included.
If you would like to reduce inflammation in your body, and all of the negative side effects that inflammation causes, then the ketogenic diet is for you.
What does a ketogenic, sugar and inflammation-busting, fat-burning diet look like?
Let’s first look into a typical day of pseudo “healthy” eating that I often hear in my office.
Fake “Healthy” Diet
I had a client come in the other day who described what her diet was on “good” days:
- On “good” days, she took the time to make an egg-white omelet with two organic chicken sausages for breakfast
- For a snack, she had eighteen homemade raw-vegan nut-flour crackers
- Lunch was sautéed turkey in chicken broth
- Dinner was chicken with a ton of low-starch vegetables.
Why is this not a fat-burning diet?
- She was eating way too much protein for her body, which was keeping her a sugar burner.
- She wasn’t eating any healthy fats.
- She often caved to less healthy days of eating because the cravings got the best of her.
After hearing about her diet, it wasn’t a surprise to me that she was experiencing health woes!
Real Healthy Diet: Reduce inflammation by lowering your sugar consumption
If you don’t want any of this to happen to you, there is good news!
Here are some steps you can take to reduce inflammation in the body:
- Lower your carbohydrates.
- Moderate your protein intake.
- Increase healthy fats. Do it not only for yourself, but for your kids, too! It is important they don’t end up as insulin sensitive as we are.
- Exercise. I’m not referring to exercise for the sake of calorie expenditure, but for hormone balance. Even if you are simply walking after meals, your body will benefit. Moving has a major impact on improving insulin sensitivity since muscles burn your stored glycogen as fuel during and after your workout. People mistakenly think that they need to exercise to create a calorie deficit in order to lose weight. This is not how exercise helps with weight loss. Exercise builds muscle, and muscle builds mitochondria. It is in the mitochondria where fat is oxidized so you can keep your cells and your liver insulin sensitized.
That’s right. Only four steps. It’s really that simple!
In the next article in this series, I’ll explain exactly how to become a fat-adapted, keto-burning, inflammation-fighting machine!
Sugar image licensed under the Creative Commons.