Inflammation is the body’s response to infection, injury or irritation. It is a part of our defence mechanism but can be increased by foods we eat. Chronic inflammation increases the risk of chronic diseases. With the increase of chronic disease incidence’s in today’s society, it is important that we look for ways to reduce inflammation in our bodies.
Symptoms of inflammation include:
- Body pain
- Feeling puffy
- Constant fatigue
- Sleep issues
- Digestive issues
- Heartburn and reflux
- Weight gain
- Frequent infections
Chronic inflammation can contribute to autoimmune conditions, depression, anxiety and mood disorders as well. Chronic inflammation also increases the risk of cardiovascular diseases, diabetes and rheumatoid arthritis.
Did you know, sugar is found in many of the foods we eat everyday including processed foods, sugary drinks and even condiments such as ketchup!
It’s okay to have sugar in your diet once in a while but it’s important that we consider strategies to decrease the amount of sugar we consume every day.
Current research is exploring the potential of sugar to change the microbial composition in our gut (Rienzi and Britton, 2020). An animal study conducted in 2018 found a high-sugar diet in mice was associated with a shift in bacterial composition (Do et al., 2018). This contributes to an increase in inflammation and risk of chronic disease.
Also, sugar may play a role in increasing the growth of the bacteria, C. albicans, which may result in frequent yeast infections for those with diabetes. These effects can result in brain fog, fatigue and food cravings related to low blood sugar. Read below five tips to reduce your sugar intake:
“Nobody is perfect. It’s impossible to have a perfect diet.” – Natalia Bragagnolo
1/ Be conscious about the types of sugar you are consuming.
This involves steering away from refined and process sugars and looking towards whole fruit and natural sweeteners with added benefits.
For example, date sugar has the added benefit of increased fibre and raw honey also contains antibacterial properties.
Stevia is a good great sugar-free, carbohydrate-free alternative to refined sugar. With a glycemic index of zero, stevia does not raise your blood sugar levels. Additional health benefits of stevia are also being researched. According to Natalia, “we haven’t been using stevia for that long but the research is positive.”
Our Good Food For Good sauces are a great way to cut down on sugar while maintaining the taste in your meals. All of our sauces have no added sugar as they have all been sweetened by dates.
2/ Start with small changes
To ensure that the changes you make to your sugar consumption are sustainable, Natalia suggests starting with small changes in your meals and daily life. For example, if you typically have 2 sugars with your coffee, try bringing that down to one sugar.
3/ Consider Fibre intake
“Fibre helps to slow down release of blood sugar in your bloodstream so it doesn’t have the same effect on your blood sugar levels” – Natalia
To ensure that you are balancing your blood sugars throughout the day, ensure that you are having meals and snacks with protein, healthy fats and fibre. The slow release of these sugars will allow you to feel full for longer while maintaining healthy blood sugar levels.
4/ Try swapping out cold pressed fruit juices for whole fruits
Fruit juices are great because of the fruits that they contain but they can come with a lot of sugar! The amount of sugar in fruit juices can cause a spike blood sugar that comes down quickly, resulting in a craving for sugar as well as fatigue and low energy.
Instead, try swapping out your fruit juices for whole fruits and vegetables to decrease that sugar intake.
5/ Add in foods that decrease inflammation
“Rather than focusing on what you’re cutting out, try to think about the things you can add in that could help with that.” - Natalia
Omega-3 fatty acids play important roles in cell structure and signalling pathways in the body. Omega-3 fatty acids can also decrease inflammation in the body and decrease risk factors for chronic diseases. Fats also keep us fuller for longer without increasing our blood sugar levels! Some of the recommended omega-3 food sources suggestions by Natalie include fish or fish supplements, cold water fish, salmon, mackerel, sardine, cod or salmon. She also suggest algae, nuts and seeds like ground flax seeds, walnuts, hemp seeds, chia seeds, walnuts, and plant oils.
About Natalia Bragagnolo
Natalia Bragagnolo is a Registered Holistic Nutritionist and Community Manager at Healthy Eating and Living (HEAL). Through her work, Natalia provides one-on-one nutrition coaching, and meal planning. She also focuses on corporate wellness within companies through lunch and learns, webinars and wellness challenges. Natalia has also hosted wellness seminars on topics such as boosting energy, stress management, digestive health and the immune system.