My Sweet, Sweet Nemesis

Hello, my name is Nan and I am a sugar-aholic.
It is sad, but true.
Worse, I am pretty sure that Sugar is one of the worst things I add to my body. I know this, yet kicking the habit is insanely hard.
By writing it here, I hope to get back on track.

Not so long ago, I spent three years sugar free, artifical sweetener free, simple carbs very very low.  I know it was the strongest, healthiest, most stable I had ever been.

But when stress comes crashing through the door, the first thing every cell of my brain, every twitch of my body screams for is SUGAR. Not chocolate or anything in particular. There are some times when chocolate is the last thing I want. Sugar straight from the bowl would make my brain happier.

When I was in college and my peers were smoking pot, I would eat a 1lb bag of M&Ms and get a better high.

I recently came across this Video:

Honestly, I was not sure if I should write this off as quackery or take it seriously. People who talk in absolutes set off warning red flags in my brain. But the more I ponder it, the more it rings true in my life.

Then on April 13, the NYTimes tackled the issue as well.

And then I had another EDS’er mention that his pain was significantly higher when he ate higher sugar foods.

Then I started thinking about my life long “seasonal” allergies– When I was young, I had “chronic bronchitis”- a cough that never stopped and got evil- from sometime in Feb through May and then again in October or so through Decemberish. Some years, it started in October and went straight through to the end of May. My senior year of college, I coughed so hard I separated my ribs ( of course, the EDS helps to explain that a little as well) As I got older, it was diagnosed more correctly as a mild asthma. It has been well under control for a long time, it has been worse the last two years- mostly, I was sure because my stress levels have been higher. The last two weeks, It has been annoying again. I even thought of getting out my asthma meds the other night.

When I stop and think hard about this- the last two weeks, my sugar consumption has been MUCH higher. And my Asthma has been worse. The three years that I was sugar free– I had basically NO allergy issues– not even in the high pollen seasons.

So then I think back to those seasonal asthma attacks. Maybe it was NOT seasonal as in external allergens… maybe it is a seasonal sugar intake tie– October start with my birthday, then Halloween, then the Thanksgiving/Christmas holidays….. quickly followed on by Valentine’s Day and Easter. A Candy eating frenzy. After April, there are hardly any other holidays tied to candy… and the fresh veggies are abundant everywhere. Maybe the season that has been triggering my asthma all of these years is the Candy Season.

Something frightening to ponder. If it triggers my Asthma( an inflammation reaction) what other inflammation reactions is it triggering in my already tender body?

The time has come to do battle with this nemesis again- it will be hard for the first 3 weeks. And I will turn into a cranky, whiny miserable sugar craving ball of mammal— but I will fight through this. I am interested to see what happens to my joint and tendon pain on the other side of this. I started last night by brewing a fresh pitcher of unsweetened ice tea.. I fell down once today, but I am holding out for that as my only falter. Tomorrow, I will falter not at all.

Edits: Here is more information I have found about the ties between the damage Sugar does to collagen-

When blood sugar goes up rapidly, sugar can attach itself to collagen in a process called “glycosylation,” or the Browning Reaction, increasing inflexible and inflammation. CRP is not found in foods. However, its levels in the body are strongly influenced by diet.

Diabetics research has found that antioxidants lower this gycosylation. A plus and maybe a reason why VitaminC and other anti-oxidants help with flexibility and aches.

And this on Inflammation ties:

“Sugar and other refined carbohydrates appear to trigger a chemical reaction that creates pro-inflammatory compounds in the body,” says Andrew Weil, M.D., author of “Healthy Aging.” One 2008 study in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that healthy people who ate a sugar-rich breakfast had high blood sugar afterward, along with increased signs of inflammation.

In an ongoing Harvard Women’s Health Study, participants who consumed more high-sugar foods, like white bread and cereal, were more likely to have inflammation and high amounts of bad cholesterol (LDL).

In small doses, inflammation is a good thing. Faced with injury or foreign invaders like germs, our immune cells release substances called cytokines, which help destroy bacteria and trigger short-lived redness and swelling. The problems start when sugar consumption goes from an every-now-and-then thing to a full-blown habit, and inflammation is constant and spreads throughout the body, harming healthy tissue over time.

Studies that link high sugar intake to increased inflammation in the body are troubling, says Mark Hyman, M.D., author of “Ultrametabolism.” “Chronic inflammation appears to play a role in heart disease, cancer, and many other major conditions,” he explains. “Anything that triggers inflammation — including sugar — also triggers disease.”

and then this:

Scientists have long linked oedema, arthritis and inflammatory bowel disease with inflammation. Only recently the medical community has implicated the process to diabetes, certain cancers and other unsolvable degenerative conditions. The latest research links heart disease more to various inflammatory conditions than to high cholesterol. Researchers are doing their best to come up with anti-inflammatory drugs and other cures for this inflammation.

Rather than try to find a cure, it might be wise to find out what causes inflammation and stop the cause rather than look for a cure. There are many things that cause inflammation in the body: viral and bacterial infections, surgery, a bruise, a broken bone, allergies, vaccinations, high blood pressure, oestrogen therapy, smoking, obesity, chronic fatigue, and dental problems, among others.

One of the biggest offenders of inflammation is ingestion of sugar. By sugar I mean table sugar, brown sugar, raw sugar, turbinado sugar, honey (even raw), maple sugar, corn sweetener, dextrose, glucose, fructose and any other word that ends in an “ose”, barley malt, rice syrup, liquid cane sugar, concentrated fruit juice and others. Don’t be fooled by the name organic when it applies to sugar. Sugar is sugar, organic or not, and the following will explain exactly what can happen in the body when you eat as little as two teaspoons.

spring revival

I had considered just starting to post again, and pretending like there had not been an almost one month gap between posts, but that seemed wrong somehow. So, here is the short rundown:

At the very end of February, I finally got the respiratory flu that everyone else in the family ( and the local universe) had been fighting. I knew it was just a virus and would eventually resolve itself, so I attempted to push through it. Lack of respect for the strength of our microscopic foes then resulted in me getting progressively worse. I had to travel for work at the beginning of March, and went- sickness, fever and all. It was a sort of non negotiable training/workshop that would have resulted in BIG political problems if I had just blown it off. I had griped about having to go to my boss enough that I knew I could not just call him up and tell him I was sick and staying home. They needed to see in the flesh that I was sick. So, I went, participated and infected them all. I also got worse. By now I was progressed to full blown bronchitis, but was stubbornly resisting admitting it. ( plus, my ex’s dad had died, I had all the kids and there just was not a good way to lay down and be sick) After another week my breathing was bad enough that I finally went to the doctor. He diagnosed a severe bronchitis that had also triggered my asthma. The last part pissed me off. It had been over 3 years since I had needed any meds or treatment for my ( normally mild) asthma. I did not even own an inhaler any more. He debated the hospital briefly, he debated some shots to get meds in me fast, then finally was able to be settled on serious antibiotics, prednisone and albuterol via nebulizer. At this point I was still remaining active ( and probably a little whiny) on twitter. Most days, without enough oxygen and energy, 140 characters was often all I could put together coherently. I would have two or three good blog post thoughts a day, but by the time I got through work and kids, I would sit and thoughts would flee, scattered by low oxygen levels.

The Bronchitis was vanquished by the powers of Levaquin, and for a brief time while the Prednisone levels were high in my blood, my breathing improved slightly. It was just enough to get me through Easter weekend and all the festivities and family gatherings. As the steroid levels ramped back down, my asthma lingered on. I used Albuterol in the nebulizer several times per day each time resulting in shakes, tremors, racing heart and exhaustion. My oxygen levels started to drop again. I tried to ignore it and push through. I even had a kid free weekend where Ogre and I went out dancing. That ended with me having to make trips outside, needing air more than the electric feeling of being alive dancing in the club gave me. Finally, after 5 more days of crashing hard, needing naps and not being able to do much more than claw my way through my days, I called the Doctor back.

He switched me off of Albuterol and onto Xanopex (which makes me tremor less, but it NOT tremor free as he promised), another ( slightly longer) round of Prednisone and Advair. The Advair still makes me nervous and I am feeling uncomfortable about taking it, but three doses of Prednisone has opened up my lungs enough that the Oxygen is once again racing to my neurons. I could feel it after the first dose- my Tweets started running out of room, and I found that I often had more than 140 ( or even 160) characters to say. That is when I knew I needed to get back to blogging.

So today, I am still on the nebulizer, still coughing and hacking a bit, but breathing all the same. My brain is active, my sex drive is back and I am airing out the house as well as my lungs. It is good to be back.

Now, I am going to switch around some laundry and then we will return to your regularly scheduled channel.