Refined Carbohydrates and Knee Pain

Refined Carbohydrates and Knee Pain 645d5137411bb.png

Refined Carbohydrates and Knee Pain

There is one thing that artificial sweeteners, processed meats, and processed carbohydrates all have in common, and it’s not good.

They’re delicious?

Maybe.

They can lead to weight gain?

Well, yes.

When consumed in excess they can lead to numerous health problems?

Yes.

But what about their effect specifically on those of us with knee osteoarthritis?

If you guessed “they increase inflammation,” then you are absolutely correct.

However, it isn’t just sugar, artificial sweeteners, and processed meats that can trigger an inflammatory response- which as a result can increase joint pain and stiffness. There is another common culprit that can be found just about anywhere and everywhere. And that culprit is refined carbohydrates.

It’s important to note that the keyword here is “refined” and not just carbohydrates in general. So before we jump into what exactly that means, let’s take a brief look at what a carbohydrate is.

Carbohydrates or “carbs” have been given a bad rap, and nearly every popular diet requires that they be eliminated entirely or at least severely reduced. However, carbs are not inherently bad.

In fact, carbohydrates are an important part of our diet as they help our bodies to function properly by serving as the primary fuel for our brains and our red blood cells. Therefore to try and cut them out entirely can lead to all sorts of problems including brain fog, bad breath, headache, weakness, and fatigue.

The healthiest carbs are those found in an unrefined and natural state. Sources of these good carbs include whole grains, beans, fruits, and vegetables, which are all excellent sources of fiber, vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients. Oftentimes these types are carbohydrates are referred to as “whole” and “unprocessed.”

Refined carbohydrates are whole grains, where the fiber has been stripped away.

This means that when the grain is refined, the bran which is a good source of fiber and vitamins, and the germ which contains vitamins and minerals that provide a variety of health benefits, are stripped away. This process leaves only the starch in the middle of the grain, which is then used to create white flour.

Common refined carbohydrates are white rice, white pasta, white bread, breakfast cereals, cookies, and more.

The problem with refined carbohydrates, other than their lack of vitamins, minerals, nutrients, and fiber- is that when they are ingested, the body turns them into sugar quickly. Then, as a result of this spike in blood sugar, the body responds as it would to regular sugar, and triggers an inflammatory response. Which is of particular concern for those of us with knee osteoarthritis.

Therefore, it’s important that the consumption of refined carbohydrates is greatly limited as they can not only worsen knee pain by triggering inflammation but can also lead to weight gain and other health problems.

That being said, given their abundance in a western diet, it’s hard to avoid refined carbohydrates entirely. However, they can be greatly limited.

One way to limit refined carbs and curb cravings for them is to replace them with healthier more nutritious carbs.

In our next article, we will take a look at some of these whole or unprocessed alternatives to refined carbohydrates, which can not only decrease inflammation but can even prevent it from happening in the first place.

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