Eating too much sugar can lead to weight gain, tooth decay, and an increased risk of developing diseases and conditions like type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and high blood pressure. But it can also exacerbate the symptoms of various forms of arthritis.
This study shows that many sufferers of rheumatoid arthritis claim that sugary foods trigger their arthritis to flare up. However, research has also found that eating a diet that’s high in excess, processed sugar can cause our bodies to produce cytokines (inflammatory proteins), which may make inflammation worse.
So, if you live with a form of arthritis, it’s worth cutting back on the amount of sugar in your diet. And we aren’t talking about healthy sugars, like those found in whole fruit and vegetables, but what’s known as ‘free sugar’.
Free sugar is any sugar that’s added to foods and drinks like biscuits, sweets, chocolate, and fizzy soft drink, by the manufacturer or consumer. It also includes sugar that’s found in honey, syrup, and fruit juice (the sugars in fruit become ‘free’ during the juicing process).
Free sugars are called so because they aren’t contained inside the cells of the food we eat – unlike the sugar found in fruit, vegetables, and milk, which is believed not to have a negative effect on our health and also comes with other nutrients.
The NHS recommends that free sugars should not make up any more than 5% of our daily calories – the equivalent of 30g of free sugars. The NHS website has more information about how you can cut down on your free sugar intake.