Did you know that consuming too much sugar can set you up for injury? I call them sugar injuries, and I see them more often around this time of year. The holiday season is filled with opportunities to consume more sugar than usual. From October to February, we are tempted at every turn to have candy, cookies, cakes, pies, alcohol, and other sweet treats and drinks.
Here is a typical scenario I experience quite often: A patient calls and says, “I woke up this morning not being able to move my neck!” There was no specific physical injury to justify their pain and stiffness, but somehow, they just woke up this way! When they come in to see me, one of the first questions I ask as part of my assessment is, how much sugar have you had recently? Common sources of sugar include fruit, cookies, cakes, candy, sodas, ice cream, mixed drinks, wine, bread, pasta, corn, cereal, etc. The usual answer is something like, “Yeah, I’ve had a lot of holiday cookies the last couple of days!”
How does a sugar injury happen? It can occur when too much sugar is consumed and your sugar consumption level has exceeded your body’s actual needs. When this happens, the excess sugar in your system looks for protein receptor sites. When the sugar finds the protein receptor sites, it locks on to them and form very rigid bonds to your muscle tissue. When you try to use the affected muscles, they just cannot function normally, making you susceptible to pain or injury during normal activities and exercise. Your muscles may feel stiff, painful, locked up, or knotted due to those rigid bonds. If you are an athlete and you try to use a muscle that is compromised like this, then you are more likely to strain or tear that muscle, making you unable to participate in your sport for several weeks.
Consuming too much sugar has all sorts of serious ramifications. Be sure to check back here for our next posts, as we will continue to delve into the adverse effects of sugar.