Eating excess amounts of sugar can cause a wide array of complications, including diabetes, heart disease, arthritis, and many other inflammatory diseases.
This is because regular table sugar and sugar substitutes trigger a repeated immune response that can lead to chronic illness.
However, did you know there are sugary foods that can actually combat this inflammatory reaction, help you lose weight, and improve your overall health?
In fact, there are three sugary foods that are so important for optimal health that you should incorporate them into your diet daily. Let’s explore these foods and discover what makes them so unique from other sugar-rich products.
I know it’s counterintuitive to think that sugary foods can actually prevent and reduce the symptoms of inflammatory diseases, but it’s true.
In fact, the American Diabetes Association (ADA) has under its Diabetes Myths section that the concept of “sugar causing diabetes” is oversimplified and not true. This is because not all sugar is created equally.
According to the ADA, natural, unrefined sugary foods, especially those that are high in fiber and antioxidants, are actually good for balancing blood sugar and preventing an inflammatory, autoimmune response.
While some in this list are direct anti-inflammatory agents, many fight free radicals and prevent insulin spikes that can trigger inflammation.
So what are these foods?
Vegetables contain natural sugars — some more than others. Root vegetables, such as carrots or beets, are high in sugar but are really good for you.
Beets are great for combating inflammation and are high in vitamin C and antioxidants. Vegetables in general are high in water content, which can help flush out toxins.
They are also high in fiber, which reduces levels of the c-reactive protein that triggers inflammation. Leafy greens are especially good for you as they are full of nutrients, antioxidants, and cytokines, which combat inflammation.
Even high-carbohydrate sweet potatoes can fight inflammation as they are rich in fiber, vitamins and minerals. Vegetables are also nutrient-dense for being so low in calories.
Plus, the excess fiber helps keep you full throughout the day. Incorporating more vegetables in your diet can help you lose weight and get the vitamins and minerals your body needs to thrive.
Fruit has been getting a bad reputation for being high in sugar. The sugar within fruit, however, is fructose.
A 2013 article in the Journal of the American Medical Association reported that there is actually an inverse relationship between the consumption of fruits and excess body weight and obesity-related illnesses, such as diabetes.
Research conducted in 1981 by The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition shows that fruits that are high in fiber but lower in glucose can be safe and beneficial for those suffering from diabetes.
In fact, the American Diabetes Association recommends consuming fiber-rich fruits while limiting your consumption of processed, refined sugars.
Berries, cherries, peaches, apricots, apples, oranges and kiwis are all fruits that help reduce inflammation by balancing blood sugar. The fiber acts as a buffer, but also keeps you satiated.
The sweetness of the fruit can help combat cravings for sweet, processed foods. Not only are fruits packed full of fiber, they are also high in vitamins and antioxidants, which can prevent the onset of degenerative diseases and premature aging.
As tempting as pastries, bread rolls, white rice and pastas can be, gluten-free grains such as millet, quinoa, brown rice and oats are your best bet for optimal health.
The refined flours of today are stripped of their nutrients and can cause inflammation and obesity. In contrast, gluten-free grains have their nutrients intact and are full of fiber.
Gluten is a substance found in cereal grains, especially wheat and is yet another source of inflammation that can trigger an autoimmune response. Regardless of whether you have celiac disease, arthritis, diabetes or heart disease, replacing these items with gluten-free grains will not only reduce your inflammatory symptoms, but can balance blood sugar and aid in weight loss.
Gluten-free grains are higher in calories than fruits or vegetables, so they are healthy ways to bulk up meals without the harmful effects of refined carbohydrates.
Although sugary foods can be addictive, they are devoid of vital nutrients and can cause a whole host of health problems. Eating more fruits, vegetables, and gluten-free whole grains can help satiate you, reduce hunger throughout the day, help you lose weight and help prevent and treat inflammatory diseases.
So don’t be afraid to have an apple a day. Nature’s candy can actually be as sweet to your health as it is to your palate.