Nutritional therapist Caroline Hind reveals the benefits of reducing sugar consumption when recovering from Covid-19
If ever there is a time to make the leap into reducing sugary foods, recovering from Covid and ongoing post-viral symptoms is the time to do it. Be kind to yourself and try to drop only one sugary food at a time, but make sure to stock up on nutritious whole foods to keep you satisfied and well-nourished.
Reasons to Drop Sugar from your Diet
1. Sugar increases inflammation
Sugary foods can cause sharp spikes in your blood sugar levels, which is linked with increased inflammation. The spike in blood sugar is often followed by a drop in blood sugar and this can cause cravings, fluctuating moods and fatigue.
Unstable blood sugar levels add additional stress to the body. It’s important to be aware of the impact of sugar on stress, mood and inflammation especially when suffering a post-viral condition such as long Covid.
2. Sugar encourages body fat
Sugar encourages fat storage. Managing weight is important when looking to reduce inflammation and boost the immune system. Excess fat around the waist is particularly inflammatory. Research suggests that excess body fat is associated with persistent symptoms of long Covid.
See our article on losing weight in a healthy way.
3. Sugary foods are low in nutrients
Vitamins, minerals, proteins, fatty acids and plant compounds (polyphenols) all play a role in helping the body to heal from infections and inflammation. Foods made from refined sugar are nearly always very low in these important nutrients. If you fill up on sugary treats, you will be pushing more nutritious foods out of your diet. Make sure your meals are filling enough that you are not hungry again quickly afterwards. Switch to lower-sugar, whole-food treats such as yoghurt, apples, berries or very dark chocolate.
4. Sugar may suppress the immune system
Sugar appears to suppress the responsiveness of the white blood cells that are central to immune function. Sugar has also been found to reduce the absorption of vitamin C, an important immune-supportive nutrient. The hormone insulin is thought to play a role in the regulation of the immune system, but this can become impaired when insulin levels are increased with excessive sugar consumption.
5. Sugar may cause brain fog
Brain fog and low mood are often experienced by people suffering from long Covid. It is therefore important to recognize the effects that sugar consumption can have on brain function. For some people, brain fog is improved when their overall diet is lower in sugar and refined carbohydrates, including sugary drinks and alcohol, allowing periods in which the brain can run on fatty acids and ketones.
Aim for more stable blood sugar levels by avoiding sugary treats and creating meals around vegetables and protein-rich foods such as meat, eggs, fish, nuts, cheese and tofu.
Healthy swaps to reduce sugar
Milk chocolate Dark chocolate 70% cocoa
Sweets & candy Dried fruit and nuts
Ice cream Chocolate Avocado mousse
Puddings & desserts Berry crumble
Biscuits Low sugar oat bars
Fizzy drinks and coffee Herbal teas & lemon water