Saturday, January 14, 2012
Sugar is the Devil
Coming off the winter holiday gluttony fest, I've been pretty much off sugar for two weeks, and the difference is so noticeable it's frightening. Most notably, and surprisingly, is the relation to the mild arthritis in my knees. And, I'm coming to the conclusion that white sugar - and its evil stepbrothers white flour and empty starches - are the source of much evil in the world of health.
My sugar consumption dropped significantly about nine years ago when I moved to Colorado and made a fresh start with diet and exercise. The first thing to go was high fructose corn syrup. That was followed by the elimination of more processed foods and sugars, especially white flour. Within six months, I had lost nearly twenty pounds and felt better than I had in years. Later changes involved a move to more all natural and organic foods.
However, my wife is a former - still occasional - pastry chef. And she's damn good.
Thus, during the winter holidays when there are a hundred dozen cookies in the freezer, I quickly regress into sloth and gluttony. And, during the past few years on a two-week winter break, I've gained 7-10 pounds while eating more sweets and starchy carbs. This year was no different, and as always after the first of the year, I cut the sugar leash. This year, however, I noticed a difference for the first time in my knees. In the past five years, I've developed tenderness behind my kneecap that our school trainer says is bursitis or pre-arthritis. As a runner this is frustrating. Several years ago when I switched to running on the balls of my feet, the pain was greatly lessened, and I thought I'd figured it out. Running that way doesn't bother the knee.
Yet, each winter my knee - especially the right one - flares up. The pain is greatest going down stairs, though even sitting down and standing up can be tender. I had attributed it to the cold weather, especially here in Denver. However, the pain really flared up in December, and has been lessening to almost an unnoticeable level in January. Yet, it's still cold and still damp, and I'm exercising more.
And, now I'm guessing the sugar was a key ingredient.
The basics of far too many health problems is inflammation. And sugary, starchy, empty carbs are a key factor in inflammation. So, consider doing a little sugar busting if you're looking for a way to ramp up the healthy living.