Whether recovering from an acute injury or suffering from a chronic condition, if inflammation is part of the problem, then you might consider completely eliminating or limiting the processed sugars in your diet.
Inflammation is a complex biological process in response to harmful stimuli in the body such as injured tissues, damaged cells and other irritants. Inflammation is a protective response that initially helps to break down damaged cells and initiate repair and rebuilding of new cells. When this process is chronic in nature and lasts too long, it makes it difficult for new healthy cells to thrive and for injured tissues to regenerate.
The causes of chronic inflammation can vary from individual to individual and there are many factors that can affect this state. Generally, lack of sleep, stress, smoking, pollution, lack of exercise and poor diet can all be factors that increase long-term inflammation.
With respect to diet, there are many foods that have anti-inflammatory effects and many others that increase inflammatory mediators in the blood. Processed sugars are one of the offenders that should be avoided. Although it may be difficult to resist, foods high in processed sugars such as juice, pastries, doughnuts, cake and cookies can be dangerous. These foods release inflammatory messengers called cytokines that can prolong the inflammation process and delay tissue healing and even promote chronic pain mechanisms. Those that have sugar free diets say they have more energy, have fewer headaches, have a clearer mental state and report feeling healthier overall.
There are many great recipes that you can find online that will help you cook and bake with less (or no refined sugars). Consider giving this lifestyle choice a try, especially if you are recovering from an injury.
Give this refined sugar free treat a try this Valentines day!
Raw Chocolate Hearts
Makes about 24 chocolates
- 2 ounces (60 grams) of cacao butter
- ¼ cup raw cacao powder
- 3 tablespoons pure maple syrup (if you like it bitter, add only 2 tablespoons)
- 1 tablespoon almond butter
- ¼ cup figs, chopped into small pieces
- ¼ cup walnuts chopped into small pieces
- Optional: 1 teaspoon vanilla powder
- Place the cacao butter in a bowl over a saucepan of boiling water. Once it’s melted, add the raw cacao powder, pure maple syrup, almond butter, and vanilla powder (if using), and stir for 2 minutes until well-combined.
- Stir in the fig and walnut pieces.
- Spoon the liquid chocolate mix into small heart-shaped chocolate molds and place in the freezer to set for at least 30 minutes.
- Remove from freezer and make sure the chocolate is firm before taking it out of the mold. Store the chocolate hearts in an airtight container and keep in the fridge for a week or in the freezer for a month.
Written By: Sarah Wallace – Pilates Instructor at Rebalance Sports Medicine