Today we’ll be talking more about the “Endo Diet,” particularly why we’ve been told to cut out as much processed sugars as possible. I’ve read that sugar may cause or aggravate inflammation, but it’s time to dig deeper and find the scientific backing to these claims.
What is Inflammation?
Inflammation, when needed, fights bacteria and infections, repairs damaged tissue, and helps our bodies heal faster from injury or illness. Cells and proteins whiz to the injury or infection site and begin to surround, protect, and heal. However, like the old saying goes: all things in moderation. Too much or excess inflammation can actually damage our bodies. Chronic inflammation may overwhelm or body rendering it unable to maintain a healthy balance and may lead to clogged arteries, stroke, heart disease, asthma, lupus, or a multitude of chronic illnesses.
Sugar in particular has been found to create an immune system response (inflammation) as the body tries to break down the proteins found in sugar. Sugar also increases insulin levels, which (when there’s too much) may cause certain Omega fatty acids to increase prostaglandin levels, which may increase inflammation. Not to mention heightened blood sugar levels may increase chances of becoming Diabetic. And many people also believe that sugar intake, and increased chronic inflammation, may increase the risk of cancer.
Many people believe by making an active effort to reduce their sugar intake, they are taking steps to help reduce their body’s chronic immune response, thus helping reduce their inflammation and pain.
At the 1999 55th Annual Meeting of the American Society for Reproductive Medicine, it was presented that certain pro-inflammatory proteins and cytokines (cytokines are increased by sugar consumption) may influence and increase the inflammation of Endometriosis implants.
A study published in 2006 focused on diet and the metabolic syndrome. What’s “metabolic syndrome?” Well, it’s a combo of different conditions all leading to an increased risk of heart disease: high blood sugar level, excess body fat, and abnormal cholesterol levels. Although not dealing with Endometriosis, I found the study equally fascinating. This study found that a diet high in refined starches, sugar, saturated and trans-fatty acids and low in fruits, veggies, whole grains, and Omega-3 fats may cause issues with the immune system, likely due to an increase of inflammatory agents and a reduction of anti-inflammatory goodness.
“The whole diet approach seems particularly promising to reduce the inflammation associated with the metabolic syndrome. The choice of healthy sources of carbohydrate, fat, and protein, associated with regular physical activity and avoidance of smoking, is critical to fighting the war against chronic disease. Western dietary patterns warm up inflammation, while prudent dietary patterns cool it down.”
A study published in 2008 discussed several lifestyle changes which may help prevent or regulate the pain of Endometriosis, as well as fibroids and breast cancer. Maintaining healthy blood-sugar levels by following a low-glycemic-index diet is referenced as potentially preventing or fighting inflammation.
A study published in 2011 found that “sugar-sweetened beverages” promoted inflammation in healthy young men. Twenty-nine men consumed low to moderate sugar-sweetened beverages. I’d love to see the same study conducted on much higher-level beverages, such as Monster or Rockstar!
A study published in 2015 conducted on mice suggests there may be estrogen and inflammation suppression techniques that may help prevent or treat Endometriosis. Ongoing research is needed. “Inflammation suppression” simply drives my determination to try and reduce/limit my body’s excess inflammation…unfortunately, I do not have access to the entire article, only the abstract, but still : “inflammation suppression.”
Still want to eat sweet but lessen your processed sugar intake? Try these alternatives: artichoke syrup, blackstrap molasses, coconut palm sugar, lucuma powder, raw honey, or stevia. These are all “less evil” than sugar, but again: all things in moderation. Some people suggest pure maple syrup or agave nectar; others dissuade against them as a sugar alternative. And, please, avoid those artificial sweeteners like Sweet’N Low, Splenda, Equal, etc. They may contain chemicals that pose an increased risk of developing cancer.
What Will I Do?
Sugar is found in nearly EVERYTHING you put in your mouth. Fruit, vegetables, meat, processed foods, sugar cane, maple syrup, honey, agave, etc. The list just goes on and on. Sugars are also labeled many different ways and sometimes you really have to look to find added sugars on your food labels.
And since I still want to eat and drink, I choose to eat and drink differently for my Endometriosis. I find it interesting that the foods I’ve already either reduced or fully-eliminated from my diet also coincide with the whole sugar-thing: soda, coffee (with copious amounts of added sugar), bread, red meat (some red meats have been linked with high sugar levels), baked goodies (cakes, cookies, brownies), desserts (creme brulee, ice cream), and alcohol. I drink herbal tea in the morning and a homemade tea at night, using organic honey to sweeten both. I enjoy my fruits and vegetables, my fish, my poultry. And I drink a lot of water (I really don’t drink anything else anymore, except my glass of wine at night with dinner). I like to think I’m reducing my chances of increasing my inflammation and pain.
But the question is: what will you do?
American Journal of Clinical Nutrition (Article, June 2011) – Low to moderate sugar-sweetened beverage consumption impairs glucose and lipid metabolism and promotes inflammation in healthy young men: a randomized controlled trial
Carolyn Chambers Clark
Integrative Medicine : A Clinician’s Journal
Mayo Clinic Health Letter
Fertility & Sterility (Abstract, Jan. 2001) – Immunology of Endometriosis
The Journal of the American College of Cardiology (Article, Aug. 2006) – The Effects of Diet on Inflammation: Emphasis on the Metabolic Syndrome
Science Translational Medicine (Abstract, Jan. 2015) – Dual suppression of estrogenic and inflammatory activities for targeting of endometriosis
The Journal of the American College of Cardiology (Abstract, Aug. 2006) – The Effects of Diet on Inflammation: Emphasis on the Metabolic Syndrome
~ Again, I am a layman. I do not hold any college degrees, nor mastery of knowledge. Please take what I say with a grain of salt. If curious, do your own research 😉 Validate my writings. Or challenge them. And ALWAYS feel free to consult with your physician. Always. Yours ~ Lisa