There are several things I’ve known for many years, but have cleverly managed not to put together. I’ve known, for instance that:
- possibly as much as 90% of long-term joint pain and arthritis are due to allergies
- these allergies differ drastically among people
- the things we may be allergic to might be obviously not good for us, especially in excess – like alcohol, drugs (both legal and illegal), and fast food
- allergies might also be less obviously evil – nuts, red meat, various grains, night-shade vegetables like tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, paprika, tea and coffee
I’ve also known that those of us not physically prone to alcohol addition often instead are apt to be vulnerable to sweets, in other words, to develop a sugar addition.
I realized in my early forties that my evening pre-dinner glass of wine was making my joints sore. I never became a teetotaler, but I rarely now have more than a single drink in a week, and when I do, I immediately pay the price in pain and sleepless nights. I’d rather be able to drink a little more, but in truth, my restraint has been more than worth paying for the price of remaining pain-free.
But about three months ago I developed a pain in my left shoulder and arm that has made it impossible for me to engage in several yoga stretches I’ve been doing for more than four decades. I thought I must have strained a muscle, possibly carrying a bag of garden soil, and expected the pain to disappear quite quickly. Well, it hasn’t disappeared, and its high time for it to be gone.
And that is when the terrible possibility crossed my mind: am I developing arthritis as a result of sugar intake? In other words, can sugar in one’s diet cause arthritic pain?
If you don’t want to know the answer, don’t ask Google. The unfortunate answer is yes. People with osteoporosis are particularly vulnerable.
The standard medical advice is to eliminate a potential culprit for about four weeks. If joint pain has disappeared or even significantly decreased, one may have found the culprit. If the pain returns after a return to normal habits, that may be the trigger that has to be kept under control
WHAT!?? my two-year-old self is screaming. No cookies with lunch? no desserts with any sugar? no apple pie? no ice cream? no chocolate?
I have watched myself occasionally play the same games that alcoholics and drug addicts play, that narrowing of consciousness that eventually reduces all reason to a total focus on the forbidden object, ultimately coming up with any reason whatsoever that results in surrender. But I don’t have a weight problem, and I have never had to make a serious long-term effort to reduce my sugar intake. I’ve never tried to go without processed sugar for as long as four weeks.
I don’t know if I can do it.
The avoidance of arthritic pain as I lope through my 70’s is a big enticement if it works. But even to carry out the experiment to see if it does might be a challenge greater than I can win.
At the moment, I have 27 more days to go before I have the evidence one way or other. If I never bring the subject up again, you’ll know it’s because I’m eating a chocolate bar.