Recently, Best Food Facts received a question from a reader, Susan, asking, “I have Psoriatic Arthritis & Fibromyalgia. When I consume food/drinks with sugar I get hot flashes and increased pain and inflammation. Are there other sweeteners that would not do these things to my body such as Sweet N Low or Equal?”
To answer this question, we reached out to Lona Sandon, MEd, RD, LD, an Assistant Professor in the Department of Clinical Nutrition, University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas.
Lona Sandon, MEd, RD, LD: "Unfortunately there is little or no scientific research to formulate a good answer to this question. Many people with autoimmune forms of arthritis feel that their symptoms are aggravated by eating foods high in sugar but clinical research has not been able to establish a solid connection. There is some limited evidence to suggest that because sugar intake causes an increase in insulin, followed by a slight rise in body temperature, that this can trigger hot flashes in women who are peri- or post-menopausal. Also, there is some evidence to suggest that fluctuating/lowering estrogen levels that occur with peri- or post-menopause also aggravates arthritis symptoms. Susan may want to visit with her doctor to determine if she may be experiencing peri- or postmenopausal symptoms along with her psoriatic arthritis and fibromyalgia.
"My suggestion for Susan would be to follow a plant-based diet rich in fruits, vegetables, beans, nuts, healthy fats from fish and vegetable oils, low-fat yogurt, and avoid added sugars and sugary foods/drinks. Research supports eating a Mediterranean-style diet for inflammatory conditions like autoimmune arthritis. I would recommend passing on the foods sweetened with non-calorie sweeteners as most do not offer a nutritional benefit."
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