It would be wise to find out the causes of inflammation and stop the cause rather than look for a curative measure. There are many things that cause inflammation in the body: viral and bacterial infections, surgery, allergies, vaccinations, high blood pressure, oestrogen therapy (hormone therapy), smoking, obesity, chronic fatigue, and dental problems, among others.
One of the biggest offenders of inflammation is ingestion of “added sugar”. Not natural sugars from vegetables, fruits, and whole grains in their natural states, by “added sugar” I mean table sugar, brown sugar, raw sugar, coconut sugar, turbinado sugar, honey (even raw), maple syrup, corn sweetener (HFCS), dextrose, glucose, fructose and any other word that ends in an "ose", barley malt, agave, rice syrup, liquid cane sugar, concentrated fruit juice and others. Don't be fooled by the name organic when it applies to sugar. "Added sugar" is too much sugar, organic or not, and the following will explain exactly what can happen in the body when you eat as little as two teaspoons of this culprit of inflammation.
Every time a person eats as little as two teaspoons of added sugar we can upset our body chemistry and disrupt homeostasis, the wonderful balance in the body needed for maintenance, repair and life itself. One of the many changes to our body chemistry is for our minerals to change relationship to each other.
How is this body chemistry disrupted? Added sugars create excess acids along with inflammation through digestion and these excess acids will be neutralized by different minerals depending on where the acids are being neutralized. This is a natural process of digestion that can be thrown out of balance with excess intake of many foods, sugar being one of the most common in our diets today.
For more of an in depth understanding of Sugar digestion, especially how fructose is digested and metabolized, and why HFCS are poison, please watch The Mini Medical School for the Public, Sugar; The Bitter Truth. Put out by the University of California Osher Centre for Integrative Medicine.
In short, no mineral is an island; minerals can only function in relation to each other. When one of the mineral levels drops in the blood stream or tissues, other minerals cannot function as well and can become toxic or deficient.
Although calcium and phosphorus give structure to our bodies through the formation of bones and teeth, most minerals function primarily as catalysts in enzyme systems within the cells and body fluids. As enzyme catalysts, the minerals help our bodies grow and maintain themselves, regulate our body processes and supply us with energy. When there are very slight changes from the normal mineral composition inside the cell, this change may result in profound physiological consequences, without making an appreciable difference on the total mineral makeup of the body as a whole.
One of processes for which enzymes are so important in the body is digestion. Enzymes help break our food into simple product which can then move easily from the digestive tract to the bloodstream. Enzymes break down carbohydrates to simple sugar, fat to fatty acids, and protein into first, polypeptides and then into amino acids. Unfortunately enzymes can not function without minerals. You can deplete the overall function of enzymes when you eat sugar. When the enzymes cannot function well, all of the protein in the food does not digest down unto it's end product or usable building blocks; peptides or amino acids. This protein gets into the blood stream as partially digested protein, or polypeptides.
Poor digestion of proteins to amino acids occurs as a consequence of insufficient function of pancreatic proteolytic enzymes. As a result, polypeptides or even full protein molecules can cross the mucosa barrier and circulate in the blood, easily provoking an immune response, and often making it to different tissues of the body. The immune system, which protects us from foreign invaders, sees these protein molecules as foreign invaders and responds by producing and immune response = inflammatory cascade.
HFCS (high fructose corn syrup) has been shown to immediately raise inflammatory mediators in the liver, and has been shown in some studies to increase intestinal permeability (or leaky gut). (1,2)
When we consume added sugars at the rate in which we do (more than 13 per cent of our total calories come from added sugars and this is a conservative estimate according to the Canadian Heart and Stroke Foundation), we weaken our body tissues, our white blood cells, and our immune system. Our white blood cells and other tissues need amino acids to function optimally. The cells can not get the correct amino acids when it is not completely digested and assimilated properly.
When our body tissues and immune system are weak, we can not fend off foreign invaders. Not only are we now susceptible to degenerative diseases but also infectious diseases. Whatever infectious disease we will get depends on what bacteria or virus is in the environment, and the weakness in our genetic blueprint determines what tissue will be affected and to which degenerative disease we are susceptible.
The less sugar you eat, the less inflammation, and the stronger the immune system to defend us against infectious and degenerative diseases.
So what is there left to eat that is sweet? Lots. Whole fruits are healthy foods for healthy people. Melons and berries have the least amount of sugar.
It's not entirely impossible to eat as much fruit as to be detrimental to health, but very unlikely. Watch out for the pitfalls of natural sugars and the amount consumed by understanding that even fruit juice, if consumed on the regular can also cause ill effects. A glass of grape, orange or apple juice has the same amount of sugar as a soft drink of the same ounces and is just as detrimental. So eat your fruit whole.
There are lots of nutrients in fruit that are important for health. Fibre in fruit, especially soluble fibre, has many benefits. This includes reduced cholesterol levels, slowed absorption of carbohydrates and increased satiety. Plus there are many studies showing that soluble fibre can help contribute to weight loss. (3)
Fruits tend to be high in several vitamins and minerals… especially vitamin C, Potassium and Folate, which many people don’t get enough of.
There are hundreds of different fruits found in nature and the nutrient composition can vary greatly between the different types of fruit. It makes sense that if you want to maximize the health effects, then focus on the fruit with the greatest amount of fibre, vitamins and minerals compared to the sugar and calorie content. It is also a good idea to eat a variety of fruits, because different fruits contain different nutrients.
There are certain situations where fruits should be limited like in diabetes, fructose intolerant people or a ketogenic (highly restrictive carbohydrate) diet which is beneficial for epilepsy.
Fruits contain a large amount of important nutrients including vitamins, minerals, fibre, antioxidants, and phytonutrients. For the 90% of us that do not fall into the category above, keep the sugar consumption to their natural sources in moderation and we will reap the benefits of not just surviving, but thriving.
1) Fructose Induces the Inflammatory Molecule ICAM-1 in Endothelial Cells;PMCID: PMC2518440; J Am Soc Nephrol. 2008 Sept; http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2518440/
2) Sugar and Inflammation; Thomas B. Kuhn: University of Alaska, Cereon Biotechnology LLC, 2015
3) Can Eating Fruits and Vegetables Help People Manage Their weight; CDC; National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion Division of Nutrition and Physical Activity