Do you suffer from arthritis or arthritic conditions? Sugar could be making your symptoms worse.
In my last article, I looked at how sugar, and fructose specifically, is associated with increased levels of inflammation. My interest in that topic was triggered by stories my patients would tell me about how their pain levels varied according to their sugar consumption.
Another group of people who see a similar pattern is those who have arthritis. It makes sense that there would be a connection with sugar and this chronic disease. Sugar increases inflammation. “-itis” means inflammation. Tendonitis is inflammation of a tendon, and arthritis is inflammation of a joint.
So if you have arthritis, it stands to reason that excessive fructose consumption will almost certainly worsen your symptoms.
Most people think arthritis is a thing only older people suffer from. But it’s not just a condition that affects older people. According to a 2015 study, 37 percent of people in their 20s already show signs of degeneration (another word for arthritic change).
Seeing as degeneration is essentially “wear and tear,” I really wouldn’t have expected it to be showing up in that many younger people. Could this high-level be coming from what they’re eating? Current research tells us it could be.
The Sugar-Arthritis Connection
Scientists have found that excessive consumption of soft drinks sweetened with high-fructose corn syrup, as well as fruit drinks and apple juice, is strongly linked to arthritis in U.S. adults aged 20 to 30.
That’s pretty wild when you think about it. These drinks can cause the kind of effects in our joints that we normally wouldn’t experience until we get older; it’s a bit like accelerating the aging process!
And It’s Not Just General Arthritis
It looks like sugar has a pretty significant impact on other arthritic conditions, too. A 2008 study that followed 46,000 men for 12 years found sugary soft drinks (and fructose specifically) can significantly increase your risk of gout, a buildup of uric acid in the joints.
Likewise, a 2014 study that looked at data on more than 180,000 people found that regular soft drink consumption is associated with rheumatoid arthritis. Whereas arthritis is a condition caused by mechanical wear and tear of the joints, rheumatoid arthritis is a systemic illness related to autoimmune dysfunction. Interestingly, they did not see the same association with diet soda. So it stands to reason it’s sugar that’s causing the issue.
If you or someone you know is suffering from an arthritic condition, reducing sugar from the diet could be a good way of managing the pain. Just another reason to quit the sweet stuff!