How Sugar Might be Making your Pain Worse

I am writing this post because I heard an interesting interview a while back with a pelvic floor physical therapist describing how one of the worst things a postpartum mom can do while she’s recovering from birth is load the body with sugar. The interview goes on to illustrate how sugar causes an inflammatory effect in the body, which delays the healing process, and often time increases the pain. The ultimate recommendation was to reduce the amount of sugar in the diet, by eliminating food products with added sugar, including artificial sugar ingredients such as Aspartame as these ingredients produce similar inflammatory effects of sugar.

As a disclaimer I am not a nutritionist, but I am however a healthcare professional and have observed first hand the effects of diet on recovery and human performance. I whole-heartedly believe that if we encourage better nutrition in healthcare, we will see less clients with illness.

This got me thinking about how this same scenario can be applied to other aspects of the body. Not only are post-partum moms trying to heal, but many times when we are dealing with pain, the body is trying to heal itself during its recovery, so the same concept often applies to a variety of scenarios.

One of the things I wanted to research a little more is how exactly sugar effects your body.

I think its important to start with clarifying that I am referring to food products that have “added sugars” meaning the amount of sugar does not occur in the product naturally. Manufactures are getting quite clever and sneaky about adding additional sugar in foods and disguising it with confusing chemical names like “dextrose” or calling it “nectar” to make it sound more appealing. This site here does a nice job of explaining how to find hidden sugars in your food products.

For the record I don’t think foods containing sugars are bad, I think foods containing added sugars, are the culprits. Worse even than added sugars, are the artificially sugars additives can be listed as:saccharin, acesulfame, aspartame, neotame, and sucralose.

There’s an interesting article from Harvard Health on some the health affects on consuming artificial sugar additives:

Sugar appears to come in many forms, and one of the reasons it should be avoided is because sugar increases inflammation within the body. Inflammation is defined as “a localized physical condition in which part of the body becomes reddened, swollen, hot, and often painful, especially as a reaction to injury or infection.”  This article from the NIH nicely summarizes inflammation. It is important to note that inflammation can be present in the absence of these signs.

Inflammation in-it-of-itself is not bad, however, when it is present for extended periods of time, it can cause some problems. During the inflammatory process, chemicals are released, that when present for extended periods, can break down the tissues, and can irritate the nerves, causing more pain.

Got back pain? Cut out the sugar. Menstrual cramps killing you? Cut out the sugar. Knees ache when you try the stairs? Cut out the sugar. You catch my drift here?

I’m not saying that sugar is the end-all-be-all of solving the complex problem that is pain, but you certainly aren’t doing yourself any favors by holding onto your beloved sweets. If you are experiencing pain, whether its recent, or you’ve had it for years, see if modifying your diet to reduce some of the sugar content can help. Particularly those pesky artificial sugars, and this should allow for a more suitable environment for healing to take place.

As always thanks for stopping by and reading my post! If you have any comments, concerns, or questions you can call/text me at 682-231-1607 or send me an email at