Sugar Aches & Inflammation

By Darlene Kvist, MS, CNS, LN
February 14, 2017

Yes, you read that right. Sugar-aches. I don’t mean the sugar lust that comes from the aroma of fresh brownies or the Blizzard-of-the-month sign at the Dairy Queen®. I mean what happens after you consume high-sugar foods that in turn create inflammation, aches and pain throughout your body; in other words, sugar-aches.

bodyache.jpgDo You Have Sugar-Aches?

This achy feeling may appear as stiff joints, achy muscles, migraines, added asthma or PMS symptoms. Chronic sugar-aches can lead to giving up your favorite pastimes such as golf, gardening, or other activities because you're in too much pain.

Let's back up. Where do your sugar-aches originate? They can come from a mocha and muffin at the coffee shop or maybe from a generous serving of pasta, or sub sandwich, at lunch. On the other hand, they may be from the hard to resist candy stash at your co-worker’s desk.

You're probably getting the picture ... sugar is hiding, in high amounts in many beverages and foods. 

While you wouldn’t consume spoon after spoon of plain sugar, you may drink soda or eat popular foods that result in sugar-overload in your body without realizing it.

Here's a simple equation to see how much sugar you are actually consuming, beyond what's listed on the label. 4 grams of carbohydrates = 1 teaspoon of sugar in your body. When you check product labels, look for serving size so you can complete the equation for the amount of food or beverage you want to consume.  

Sugar-Loaded Snacks to be Cautious of:

  • PotatoChips.jpgPotato chips: A nine-ounce bag of chips breaks down into 32 teaspoons of sugar (most people can’t stop after four or five chips). If you wash down the chips with a soda, that’s another 16 or more teaspoons of sugar.
  • Dots: One box of movie-theater sized Dots contains 5.5 servings. If you consume the whole box, you have eaten the equivalent of 48 teaspoons of sugar! (Maybe that’s the reason you are so stiff when you leave your seat at the end of the movie.)
  • Blizzard: One small Dairy Queen Blizzard has 530 calories and 83 grams of carbohydrates, which equals 21 teaspoons of sugar. And that's a small size!

This list is just a start to be cautious of. Read about even more with this Healthy Snacks Debunked post. 

A Natural Solution to Sugar-Aches

Instead of relying on an endless supply of pain relievers to manage aches and pains, I have a better suggestion – start eating real foods and see how much better you feel. In 2002 the American Journal of Cancer Nutrition found that foods high in sugar resulted in inflammation in the body. So the research, and 20+ years of clinical experience, have shown that food choices directly affect levels of pain and inflammation in the body.

As a nutritionist, I see clients’ lives change dramatically when they eliminate processed, high-sugar foods and switch to real foods. Clients that could barely climb the stairs to our office on their first visit returned to their favorite activities after following an anti-inflammatory eating plan for a few months.

Eat This, Not That 

The key to avoiding sugar-aches lies in eating real foods instead of processed foods. What do we mean by real foods? 

  • healthy_food.jpgProteins – Meats (hamburgers, bacon, chicken anyone?) and eggs.
  • Carbohydrates – Vegetable carbs are best, three additional servings of vegetables per day have been shown to reduce your risk of stroke by 22%.
  • Healthy Fats – Butter, olive oil, bacon grease, avocados, olives and nuts to name a few.

In combination, this trifecta eaten at every meal and snack helps decrease inflammation and support the body. Real foods can ease the inflammation you feel, as well as hidden low-grade chronic inflammation associated with Alzheimer’s disease, cancer, heart disease and strokes.

Get some ideas on how these real foods translate to delicious meals through our What A Nutritionist Eats blog series. 

Remember that highly processed foods (pizza, cereal, granola bars, popcorn and the list can go on forever), mostly all contain sugar and trans-fats (damaged fats and oils that are hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated, such as margarine and refined vegetable oils) which are known to increase pain and inflammation in the body.

Do your own experiment. Stop eating processed carbohydrates for three full weeks. Avoid soda, candy, chips, cereal and bagels, and I am willing to bet that you will experience less pain and inflammation in the body. Then come back and let us know how you feel!

That said, each body is extremely unique with your own health history and goals. For a more targeted approach and help reading your body’s cues, consider a nutrition consultation, available by phone or in-person with one of our nutritionists.

Nutrition is your best line of defense against sugar-aches!

For more inspiration and information, check out these free resources.

Also, make sure to check out our new online class, Eating to Reduce Pain and Inflammation.








*Results described are not typical and will vary for each individual.

About the author

Darlene founded Nutritional Weight & Wellness. In her 25 years as a counselor and nutritionist, Darlene has helped so many people change their lives using the power of real food. She is a licensed nutritionist who earned the title Certified Nutrition Specialist from the American College of Nutrition, a prestigious association of medical and research scientists to further nutrition research. She has served on the Board of Dietetics and Nutrition Practice for the State of Minnesota.

View all posts by Darlene Kvist, MS, CNS, LN


I have been off sugar for the past two years. Now that I am post menopausal, I have very sore achy feet in the mornings. I'm guessing it has to do with hormones. I also don't eat dairy due to inflammation. Any suggestions?
February 15, 2017 at 5:58 pm


For aches & pains we'd suggest looking at sources of magnesium, our relaxation mineral. Good food sources would include nuts/seeds, grass fed meats, and even leafy greens; think spinach, collard greens or kale. Many individuals supplement with a high quality magnesium for extra support.

You also might enjoy listening to this previous radio show:

I took one of Darlene's classes and my sugar ache/inflammation was my sinus and sinus headaches. After 3 weeks of eliminating processed foods and sugar my sinus problems decreased and now after 6 weeks they are gone. My culprit was potato chips.
March 1, 2017 at 8:07 am


That's fantastic news, thanks for sharing! 

Mary Pat Hauck
What about gluten free rice or beanitos chips or gluten free crackers for sugar aches? Also I eat 86% dark chocolate 5 grams sugar 15 carbs?
March 1, 2017 at 10:32 am


Any carbohydrate, even the gluten free versions will turn into sugar.  Depending upon your inflammation level a small serving of those foods might be ok.  For other people they will cause more pain.  The serving of dark chocolate still turns into almost 4tsp of sugar in your body.  

What is the recommended number of grams of sugar/carbs per day?
March 1, 2017 at 1:39 pm


We recommend about 30g of carbohydrate per meal and about 5-15g per snack. But everyone is a little different depending upon age, gender, and activity level.

Julie L. Pfeiffer
Darlene- Hello! I called Nutritional Weight and Wellness last Friday 2/24/17. Spoke w a pleasant staff member in your St. Paul Office. I have listened to Sat. radio show on and off for several years. I LOVE all of the vital news and information regarding/ Real Foods and your HEALTH. I can apply this researched information everyday to my own personal life as well to family and friends. I will soon be turning 54 in May. A journey back to 2010 ..... approaching 47 a event changed my life. I was blessed with becoming a MOTHER again!! A pregnancy filled with emotion, ( older and wiser ) parents and the responsibilities of Motherhood. Into the 6 mo. I drank the required sugary liquid drink to test for diabetes. Yes! I was diagnosed with Gestational Diabetes. My beautiful Son is now 6! In Kindergarten and my shining STAR
March 3, 2017 at 1:10 pm

the only reason why i finally found this site is cuz i been suffering from horrible backaches and knee/leg stiffness for years. im pretty fit(so i thought) but even though i work out, i love sweets. so i have secret staches all over my house with chocolates and chips, sadly yesterday i went to Mexico to pig out with barbacoa, and all the mexican sweets which i dearly love. only to suffer with pain all night and all day today. i knew sugar kills liver, but not my joints;(. great! so now i must give up my killer sweets lest i want to end up ina wheelchair. whata sucker
March 9, 2017 at 3:20 pm

Tony. Reilly
Excellent information.
April 2, 2017 at 7:24 am

Darlene L.
One bite of anything sweet and I am hooked again on sugar. I crave and think about sugar and foods with sugar but sugar is destroying my health. I am 100 lbs over weight and have been for over 30 years - all due to eating sugar/wheat foods, I have lost half my teeth to sugar. Sugar is as bad as any drug for robbing you of your health and well being. I am trying again to not eat sugar, I've made it through one day. My husband has no such problem and freely eats all kinds of sweet treats in front of me. I can't expect him to not eat what we always have just because now I am not able to due to joint pain. I feel so alone in abstaining from the foods I love so much. I also can not eat dairy besides sugar and wheat. Sometimes life seems bleak. I was glad to find this site and listen to other people in similar 'boats'.
April 12, 2017 at 10:09 pm

Anita D
Finally I know what ails me. I thought it was just my imagination. Whenever I eat a lot of sweets, my knees and other areas would ache. I did not realize that sugar could cause pain as well as weight gain. I am giving up sugar. I am tired of hurting
April 27, 2017 at 10:02 pm


We're so glad this article helped you and wish you the best of health!

Cindy W
I have lived with inflammatory pain now for several years. Sometimes to the point where I feel like I cannot even walk. I went on the whole 30 diet to see if that would help. I felt so amazing for the first 3 weeks. It was incredible. I followed the diet to the letter. Starting my fourth week I started with my pain again. I have now idea why. The only mistake I made was eating 3 pieces of sausage. It did have sugar in it. Could a small amount like that cause me such pain?
May 11, 2017 at 7:35 am


It sounds like food really makes a big difference for your health! Yes - sugar is a very inflammatory food for many people. I would also think of the potential food additives in the sausage that could have also increased that inflammatory pain. MSG, gluten, and nitrates/nitrites are often added to processed meats. It is hard to say exactly what caused your pain without looking at your diet and health history, but I am very confident that you would be able to live pain free with an individualized meal plan. I would recommend you set up an appointment with a Nutritional Weight & Wellness nutritionist to see what foods are best to keep your inflammation low.

WOW WOW WOW !!!!!!! What a wonderful discovery.
Thank you Darlene ...for 3 years im suffering woth severe aches and pains and my doctors think i complain too much.
My condition has bafled them . Im sick and tired if their diagnosis that dont work.

This cutting out carbs and sugars makes a lot more sense than taking statin drugs.
They are confused by my blood eorks that shows all positive numbers.

I have abstained from sugars and carbs for one week ..and wha lah no aches and pain. I ate my favorite sweets again and
May 12, 2017 at 4:01 am

Margie Skolaut
I am sure you are on target for me - please help! I have not been tested but my inflammation is really getting bad overall.
May 22, 2017 at 10:39 am


Hello, glad you found us. We'd encourage you to stop in for a nutrition consultation either by phone or in-person, you can find more info here, 

Kelly VDA
I have been suffering for moths. I spent $1,000 on blood work and doctor visits to be tested for RA, fibromyalgia, vitamin deficiency, etc. and nothing came up. So hard to get out of bed in the morning or when I have been sitting for a while. Feels like stiff joints and this could all be caused from sugar? I have never eaten healthy so why all of a sudden would it start? How long does it take to reverse?
June 14, 2017 at 7:29 am


Yes - sugar is a very inflammatory food for many people. I like to think of sugar as a razor in the body - it creates little cuts in the tissues and low levels of inflammation. You may not necessarily feel the damage as a teen or young adult, but the compounded effect of eating sugar or other inflammatory foods over time can start to break down the joints. Often that is when we start noticing pain or decreased mobility. I would also think of the potential foods that could have also increased that inflammatory pain; for example gluten, man-made fats, and food additives like MSG. It is hard to say exactly what contributes to your pain without looking at your diet and health history, but I am very confident that you would be able to live with less pain by addressing the foods you eat. I would recommend you set up an appointment with a Nutritional Weight & Wellness nutritionist to see what foods are best to reduce the inflammation in your joints and increase mobility. In terms of healing or reversing that damage, that can vary between people. Some notice a change within a few days, others a few weeks. If you have never eaten healthy you will likely notice a difference to the same degree of change you make with real food.

This has helped me a lot. I eat a lot of carbs and I found out that they turn into sugar. My muscles hurt me so bad every time I walk but in going to change my eating habits. Thanks so much. Linda
June 30, 2017 at 7:47 pm

Hello, I would like to know if "AGAVE" is extra high in sucrose, and is it better to use honey. My hands swell and are so painful, my knees swell and I can hardly walk. I went to doc and had the RA blood test, but I do not have RA.....I quite white sugar and brown sugar and I only use AGAVE now.
Is this causing my painful inflammation and swelling?
July 16, 2017 at 11:14 am


Agave has been marketed as a “natural” sweetener because it comes from the sap of the agave plant. However, it is highly refined through a chemical process that makes it extremely unhealthy. Agave is 70-90 percent fructose. It is a high calorie sweetener that has been linked to weight gain. Fructose is a major contributor to insulin resistance. It has also been shown to increase  LDL cholesterol and triglyceride levels. A better alternative would stevia which comes from a plant and research shows it is a safe sweetener.

Maria Merola
I have bad inflammation- stopping sugar
July 19, 2017 at 12:50 pm

april vacca
I am about to try a life style change of eliminating sugar and breads/grains that may cause inflammation. Suffering with aches and pains all over, hard to get out of bed. My question is ....should i eliminate fruits also because they are a source of sugar? I really want to give this a best chance to determine if these foods have been making me sick and hurting all the time.

August 7, 2017 at 10:42 am


Fruits are real foods, but like you mentioned they do still have natural sugars in them. I imagine you will start to notice a difference when you start to remove the more processed carbohydrates and added sweeteners. I don't think you need to eliminate all fruits, but choosing fruits that are naturally lower in sugar would be a great strategy for you while you heal. Some of my favorites are blueberries, raspberries, strawberries, cantaloupe, and even kiwi. I find that clients feel best when they keep fruit to smaller servings - like 1/2 to 3/4 cup at a time. Of course we recommend eating that fruit with some healthy fat (like avocado) and some animal protein (like chicken or fish). If you are still struggling to put together an anti-inflammatory plan, make an appointment with one of our nutritionists. They would be able to guide you to an individualized plan to get you feeling better!

Besides sugar, I took dairy out of my diet ten years ago. The casein in the dairy made me hurt all over. I was in tears and could barely walk. Cheese is the most concentrated casein. Greek yogurt is almost all casein. So if anyone is reading this and you're still hurting, take sugar and dairy out of your diet. Gluten does not bother me but that can be another factor for many. Good luck!
August 8, 2017 at 7:19 pm

Im so glad i found this site. Very informative, have been dealing with lower leg pain/cramps for the last 5 years. I do eat alot of sugar and the doctors dont know what to do for me other then throw pills at me. Blood tests always come back good. From reading this article about sugar i will definitely watch my sugar intake.
August 13, 2017 at 7:16 am

Hello I eat way to much sugar being diabetic I know better. I'm tired of the joint pain and stiffness and my feet hurt. I thought it was due to my new job walking a lot but now I know it's consuming to much sugar. I am ashamed of myself and I know better so I will do better. This article really helped me. So I'm going to stop with all this sugar consumption and eat more healthy. Thanks again
August 24, 2017 at 10:31 am


Thanks for reading and best of luck on your journey, you can do it! 

hi, im 49 yrs old and suffered from years of stiffness / aches , brain fog and many other symptons , ive also had both hips replaced through working in physical and heavy jobs all my adult life plus i also have wear in a lot of other areas , ,,,,,,after a recent stomach issue which i just could not seem to kick i was advised to try cider vinegar with 'mother' , i started the cider vinegar and and stayed off sugar and gluten and also through feeling horrid i didn't eat a lot in general ,
within a day or so i felt like a new man, almost no aches / stiffness and felt clearer head wise,,,,,, once i felt better i started eating a lot more of a normal diet and the issues returned as i started to eat various things again , i had a sugar crave recently so i had a few glasses dry ginger ale and two different small cakes ,,,,,, i then felt absolutely vile for the next few days , bad cramps all over , joint aches , felt vile inside all over, lost and kinda depressed , head spinning etc etc etc ,,,,,,, it was simply vileness ,,,,,, im now going off sugar for good, im also going to drop a lot of gluten products and try to monitor msg also ,,,,,,,, if i need to sweeten anything i use a little raw sugar , white sugar is truly evil , they say its the worst addictive drug in the world ,,,,, all i know is i cant push through that cramping and pain any more , im so over brain fog and all the feelings of vileness i seem to suffer , as much as i enjoy an occasional cake desert or soda etc ,, its not worth the vileness it also brings !!!!!!
August 24, 2017 at 5:07 pm


Glad to hear you're discovering the relief from cutting out harmful foods. With your unique history we'd highly encourage you to consider booking a nutrition consultation with one of our nutritionists. 

following up from previous comment ,,,,,ive since discovered i have issues with im guessing gluten or sugar , i had one packaged pre made pancake the other night and felt like a truck had run over me later in the night , i felt absolutely vile , gut churning, wind, body / head floating feelings, head spinning , kinda like a horrid dull electricity flowing through me and much more .

im assuming that is an allergic reaction then ?

my question is : do you develop allergies or are they there from birth , ive eaten lots of things ie pancakes etc all my life and never seemed to have a issue , well maybe just not as bad as these are , ive stayed off sugar and gluten for a few months now , ive also had massive hassles / stress and some illness the last few years ,,, so is this now a temporary thing or a changing of the guard ?
im not stressed to have to go with out, just more curious than anything ?

August 27, 2017 at 6:19 pm


Sorry to hear about that and yes, it sounds like a sensitivity which could be due to a variety of reasons too lengthy to list here. Please consider scheduling a consultation with one of our nutritionists to learn more about your body and how to feel your best. 

Hello im here because my joint pain doesnt settle i have pain in my neck,shoulders,and hands. I cant do my activities like i use to , and i have consumed a lot of processed foods,like coke, sugar, chinese good energy is also less. ? all of this happens for not eating well?
September 1, 2017 at 2:45 pm


Yes, food has a direct, positive or negative, impact on our energy and aches and pains. Of course we can't provide more details without knowing more about your health history. We'd highly encourage you to make an appointment (either in-person or by phone) with one of our nutritionists who would be better suited to help you. 

I have inflammation in my shoulders that I've been trying to treat for 7 months. Physical therapy has helped a bit but My hips and knees have recently started to hurt as well. I cut out all sugar , dairy and refined foods and for the past 2 months I've only been eating healthy vegetables, salmon, pasture raised organic eggs , berries , nuts , cold olive oil and spices . I have not noticed a difference at all! Am I doing something wrong?
September 4, 2017 at 8:30 pm


Not something we could answer without knowing more about your health history. We'd highly encourage you to make an appointment (either in-person or by phone) with one of our nutritionists who would be better suited to help you. 

Been having legs pain for 2 years sometimes its not to bad blood test revealed nothing bad....any ideas what could be causing it
September 6, 2017 at 2:39 am


Not something we could answer without knowing more about your health history. We'd highly encourage you to make an appointment (either in-person or by phone) with one of our nutritionists who would be better suited to help you. 

What about diet soda? How does that effect your systems?
September 25, 2017 at 4:58 pm


Just as listed above, diet soda impacts your system in the same negative ways as listed above. We highly advice clients to completely cut out all types of soda. 

I'm so glad I found this site. I made this self discovery fifteen years ago. My peers thought I was nuts! I've balanced my sugar for fifteen years, just to cope. Now that I found this, I'm done with sugar for ever. As admin put it, sugar is like a razor! I couldn't describe it any better.

Sugar in the past has incapacitated me. I've not been able to stand alone without assistance, that's how bad. I dialed the sugar back, and noticed an improvement. What I thought may have been a coincidence then, is a fact not. For some like me, sugar is poison. Done with you sugar.
September 30, 2017 at 7:36 am

This evening I was craving popcorn curls, so I purchased a bag for myself and snacked on them thru the evening. About an hour later my legs: knees, ankles & heels were cramping badly, even my knee replacement knee was paining me.
As I was laying on the couch and thinking what the heck is going on here? I had the fortitude to recall an article I had read a few months earlier about sugar and aching joints.

So I googled again and found this article...very straight to the point and described me to a "T".

It is approximately a week before Christmas and I am going to revise some of my festive dinner menu items and scale back on dessert and portion size and certainly be more aware of what I feed myself. As a rule I eat more veggie carbs but I have been baking more bread lately and am feeling the wrath of sugar!!!

Thank you for this article and reminder on how to better care for myself. I appreciate it immensely.

December 17, 2017 at 10:47 pm


Thanks for reading, we are so happy to hear this has helped you and wish you the best of health through the holiday season and new year. 

What about honey as a replacement?
December 18, 2017 at 7:35 pm


Honey is still sugar and can create inflammation. Raw honey used sparingly would be a better choice than white sugar, but you should still be cautious on the amount you use.

I eat popcorn at night: 3 T of seeds popped in coconut oil. Where do you stand on homemade popcorn?
February 25, 2018 at 12:02 pm


It is an excellent idea to use a great oil like coconut oil to cook with. However, eating popcorn on a regular bases can lead to weight gain and inflammation. 3 Tablespoons of popcorn translates to 35 grams of Carbohydrate and results in 8 teaspoons of sugar load in the blood in the form of glucose.  Keeping popcorn to an occasional treat is fine but perhaps mix it up with some 1/2 cup of berries and 2 tablespoons of cream for a bedtime snack. 

Lindsey Simmons
I'm sharing this like a year later than everyone else's comments.

For the past two months, I've tried eating a mostly raw diet. At first I felt less bloated and amazing. Two months later and I realize these body aches I'm having are getting worse and worse. Doctors couldn't really give me any answers, but eventually my fiance said he wanted to try the keto diet. I was so excited because he usually just eats processed foods, like frozen red baron pizzas. I decided to switch to keto to do this with him. After being on it for three days, the last two days I've felt amazing. Absolutely 0 body aches, and I did a little more research and came across this article. Now it all makes sense! So happy I made this change!
July 16, 2018 at 2:20 pm


Eliminating refined carbohydrates and sugar can make a big impact on how we feel. Happy to hear you are feeling so much better.

I have been unable to walk around the block or stand long. I felt more pain because I had pasta last night. I can’t believe this is all because of sugar :(! I’m going to go back to eating healthy again. I’ve been eating gluten free chips, cheese, crackers, bread no wonder I’m in pain. I eat salads but cheat with eating chips afterwards.

Thank you for this site!
August 8, 2018 at 1:04 pm


It’s great you’re making those connections that processed carbs create more pain. Before you choose to eat a processed carb just think about how it will make you feel. I’d also suggest making a phone or Skype appointment with a nutritionist. She will help you reduce your cravings for those foods as well as offer support and accountability.

Insulin resistance?
October 29, 2018 at 11:29 pm


All disease states start with inflammation. Long term inflammation at the cell level can result in insulin resistance and diabetes. However, if you are experiencing aches and pains as a result of eating too much sugar you are creating inflammation in those areas of your body. This should be a warning sign! Proceed with caution continued inflammation/aches and pains can lead to further health consequences.  

What are you thoughts of Weight Watchers
January 4, 2019 at 3:38 pm


If Weight Loss is a health goal for you we suggest taking our Nutrition 4 Weight Loss 12-week program. We offer it in person in all of our 7 Twin Cities locations as well as online for those who live outside of the Twin Cities area. 96% of our participants see health improvements above and beyond weight loss as well if you have any questions about the program or wish to know more you can click the links above or give us a call at 651-699-3438.

I have a crazy thing that only flares up during pregnancy. Whenever I eat sugar or white flour in the morning/early afternoon hours I feel achy all over, and heaviness in my shoulders and chest, the kind of feeling that one gets when taking a sip of alcoholic beverage on an empty stomache. It feels horrible, like the achy ness that comes with the flu. What do you suggest? I am not consuming sugar or white flour in the morning, and can still feel achy. Also, I I need to eat every 2 hours because I'm pregnant and otherwise get nauseous if I don't. protein isn't so filling and I still have many food aversions to heavy proteins because I'm still early on in the pregnancy, so that limits me even more. I can tolerate eggs and cheeses. but cannot even think of eating chicken right now.
January 29, 2019 at 9:12 am


Having more discomfort from pregnancy can be miserable on top of some of the growing aches and pains that come with the pregnancy. It sounds like you have some food intolerances or possible some gut health issues. It is very difficult to assess without an appointment with a phone or in-person meeting with a nutritionist.

We know that food matters for mom and baby during pregnancy. In fact it is critical to make every bite count towards a healthy outcome. Sugar and white flour are void of any nutritional qualities and should generally be avoided for everyone. Why not replace these items with whole fruits and vegetables. Perhaps an eggbake from our website. I have also had clients make a mild vegetable soup and thicken the broth with organic baby food chicken or beef for added protein. A smoothie may also be helpful with a quality protein powder such as Nutrikey Wellness Whey.

Healthy regards for a healthy baby!

Sandra antonacci
Seems like this site can help me
February 24, 2019 at 7:43 am


We're glad! Let us know if you have any questions as you look around. 

Hi there. I have a huge problem with sulphites, also natural sugars in fruit and natural chemicals in veggies. I find if I only have gluten free bread (2) bits.... not a pasta fan but found gluten free doesn’t make me bloated. My list of food is very small that I can eat. My feet and hands feel like they are going to crush. Could this be due to a couple of very light white wines of a weekend do you think. I have just got onto magnesium and that works a treat. What are your thoughts on food to avoid especially with sulphites And is wine a problem even one glass.
Cheers Leanne
March 16, 2019 at 3:35 am


Great question - sensitivities to sulfites can be very challenging to identify because they are in so many processed foods (and wine). The best place to start would be eating more real food than man-made foods. We would recommend eating fresh vegetables, meat, and natural fats. It sounds like you are really sensitive to the white wine - many people with pain notice huge improvements when they stop drinking wine or other types of alcohol. Perhaps you try going 6 weeks without any wine to see if that changes your pain. If you find you need some individual support to put a plan in place for managing the pain in your feet and hands, consider setting up an individual appointment with one of our nutritionists.

Carolyn R. Barnes
I Goggled the notion I had about the relationship between my muscle aches and joint stiffness and my sugar/carb consumption. I felt they were related, but never dreamed to what extent until I read this article! OMG!
I had been on a low carb low sugar diet for nearly 6 months and noticed my body aches had all but disappeared. But, I slowly backed away from my diet, and returned to my old eating habits... Along with the old habits came the joint stiffness and muscle aches... So I wasn’t just imagining it??? Thank you for this article! I have some changes to make for sure!
April 28, 2019 at 8:23 pm


It sounds like you have found a great solution to manage your pain and stiffness. Keep up the good work and track your symptoms. We are always so glad to hear that we have helped others make the connection between what they eat and how they feel. 

Danielle Jones
I am so glad I found this site! So now I know what is causing my ankles to ache and swell so bad to the point some days I can barely walk, I am definitely cutting out sugar. Question, what can be done to ease the pain in the meantime until my body adjusts to the change?
May 5, 2019 at 7:59 am


As you eliminate sugar and processed food from your diet, you are likely removing the largest source of sodium. Excess sodium causes fluid retention. I would encourage daily activity/movement/exercise and adequate hydration- 1/2 your body weight in oz. water daily. Adding 300-400 mg of Magnesium Glycinate daily can help limit water retention and pain. If you would like more individualized guidance to help you make these dietary adjustments you can set up a one-on-one appointment with one of our nutritionists via Phone or in person if you live in the Twin-Cities.

I have been aching hurting in my muscles really bad now for 5 years. My neck, shoulders, back, jaw, hips hurt and give me tenderness and a strange buzzing feeling in my arms and legs. Difficult to sleep and wake in pain. Some days are vaguely better than others, but mostly I am in pain every day. A pain that makes me feel sick to my stomach literally, I suffer with ibs also.
I used to suffer with hypoglycemia, but when cutting sugar out it disappeared, so that proved something to me.
But all my life I have been a sugar junkie, and I still am now, but I have to make a stand and cut it out as I can't stand the pain another day longer, it is debilitating and ruining my life... I only hope it is the answer as I have tried everything else!
May 9, 2019 at 11:19 am


We're hopeful for you too, that sounds like a lot to be dealing with and so uncomfortable. We'd highly encourage that you consider a phone call (or Skype) or in-person meeting with one of our nutritionists

I have been thinking recently about some mornings I wake up and have such a backache I walk stooped over until after my morning herbals. Today I connected the sugar cookies I had in the late afternoon with my sugar backache.
When I realized I too much sugar a decade ago, I stopped the colas, and even the candy I liked. I had already gone to spring water and herbals like nano magnesium, but did allow myself a morning cookie with my coffee and one lunch a week with cola at Col S. Yesterday I said, one cookie won't hurt around 4 (it was two) and this morning back ache making me stoop until my herbals.
I had no idea that sugar inflammation targeted low blood circulation areas like joints and the spine. Thank You so much. I hope my granddaughter who has been looking for a certification program decides on nutrition!
June 5, 2019 at 6:26 am


We love to hear that we have helped others make the connection between what they eat and how they feel. It sounds like you are on the right track in eliminating sugar and processed carbs to feel better. 

I am a M&M junkie and am very active for my 67 years. When I cut back on my M&Ms my arthritic knees do hurts much less. I've done this multiply times and am sure there is a correlation. Also my calfs do not hurt through out the night as they do when I consume mass quantities of chocolate. The M&Ms allow me to remain very active and accomplish more on the farm than I can do without them.

I also have trouble standing on cement for more than 10 minutes or walkin around Lowes or Walmart on cement floors for more than 45 minutes without my legs becoming very heavy and sore.
I haven't read anyone comment on this about the heavy legs. What % do you give me if I went all out and reduced ALL sugar that I can easily do and reduce this problem? 50/50?
I also take numerous vitamins and Potassium and Magnesium.
Thank you.
March 8, 2020 at 9:26 am


To have the best outcome, you should adopt a diet of plenty of protein, generous amounts of green, leafy vegetable and healthy fats; eliminating processed foods and sugar (M&M’s).  You already can feel when you decrease the sugar from your diet that you feel better.  Sugar is robbing your body of minerals and vitamins (i.e. Magnesium, Vitamin D, Calcium and Vitamin C); supplementing with them can help, but you are always chasing. 

My husband and I started a life style journey about 6 months ago. I was experiencing incredible amounts of pain, aches, TMJ problems and swelling in my legs and hands. We exercised a few times a week and felt fairly healthy but knew we were needing to lose some weight. We hired a trainer and began to monitor proteins,fats and carbs as well as eliminating sugar, and " anything white".We also increased our workout routine to 2-3 times per week. Within 2 weeks, I noticed a remarkable elimination in the swelling, bloating and pain! I believed what I was doing was right for me because I saw the proof. Then, the holidays , and, I love baking! I made exceptions and added some sugars back in. Quickly, I noticed the pain and swelling as well as TMJ issues...all back again. Even as quickly as the next day. I made the commitment again to eliminate Sugar and most carbs. In the past 6 months we have lost 35 pounds and are gaining muscle strength. I do notice even still, if I forget and have something sweet- the next day weight gain- as much as 5 pounds overnight, pain and swelling. Its incredible, but I believe sugar is the trigger of all this inflammation!
March 13, 2020 at 1:50 pm


Wow! What an amazing testiment to the power of reducing sugar. Thanks for sharing!

Nightshades also cause intense pain in joints. I suffer with arthritis and it’s no myth that if I eat paprika, tomatoes, potatoes, eggplant or any pepper, my joints flare up something terrible. The person who ate the sausage is most likely reacting to spices such as paprika. Along with sugar, nightshade vegetables can cause severe joint pain for people already suffering with arthritis.
May 12, 2020 at 10:33 am

I have been diagnosed with undifferentiated spondylitis and it causes my joints to ache. I experimented with my diet and found that cutting carbs reduces the pain and swelling by 90%! If I eat carbs, I can feel the pain come back the next day. I have done this time and again. I used to take multiple medications and wear a CPAP. Cutting carbs helped me lose weight, lose the CPAP, and I no longer take medications. No sugar, flour, white rice, or potatoes for's simply not worth it!!
June 13, 2020 at 11:12 pm


That's amazing!
I have had series of blood sugar tests and all results showed negative but each time i take sugary food or drinks, i feel pain and numbness in my hands and lower legs/feet especially when i sit for a while or put my body against a hard surface. Please is there any remedy or treatment to this problem?
August 2, 2020 at 5:41 am


My guess is that the excess sugar is still causing an inflammatory response in the nerves or the surrounding tissues, and then when those swollen nerves get compressed from sitting or a hard surface, they lose sensation or feel painful. The best remedy is to avoid high sugar foods and beverages, and eat in balance (protein/carb/fat each time you eat). Omega-3s may also be helpful to improve insulin resistance and reduce general inflammation.

jason m
It is so true! Any time I have aches and pains, I think about what I ate, and it is always high-sugar, highly processed. The worst one for me, and my favorite, is donut and coffee. Oh well, I guess sugar is out and food in it's natural form is in.
Thanks for this article!
August 5, 2020 at 2:52 pm


So glad you found this info helpful!

Roy T
I have burning pain in my both feet and both hands fingers when i eat protien foods such as red meat, beans products etc...please advise me Thanks.
October 20, 2020 at 5:34 pm


Without knowing more about your health history, this sounds like it may be realted to a histamine intolerance. Also, like the topic of the blog suggests, it could be more related to sugar and gluten than proteins. Overall, we would suggest improving your gut health over time to better tolerate these foods again.We'd highly suggest a virtual meeting with one of our staff to figure out what's happening and how you can start feeling better,

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December 9, 2020 at 10:00 am


Thank you! Glad you find it helpful.

So interesting reading everyone’s comments here. I have an odd one and would be grateful any any insights into what this could be. When ever I eat a meal, after 5-10 minutes I suffer from horrendous body/joint aches, ringing in my ears, my throat feels sore and I feel fluey. It lasts about 30-40 minutes. This can be when I eat any large meal or even just breakfast - usually yoghurt, berries and granola. It is really starting to get me down as I know it’s going to happen but obviously want and need to eat. This has been going on about 4-5 months and I cannot find anything on the internet indicating that’s causing this. I have Graves’ disease which in turn caused hyperthyroidism. I don’t think it’s that... but maybe it could be. Had anyone experienced anything like this and what do you advise?
February 1, 2021 at 3:23 pm


This sounds horrible and fairly complicated.  I would highly recommend a one on one consult with one of our dietitians or nutritionists.  Before your appointment I recommend  journaling all of your food intake and all of your symptoms.  Also think back to what was happening 4-5 months ago when this started.  It will be important to know more about your health history, you will be given a health questionnaire before your visit, and more detail on your Graves’ diagnosis. Because Graves’ disease is autoimmune it will be important to get your antibodies under control.  I am certain we can help you get back to a more normal life    

I was eating Keto for 11-1/2 months -lost 57 lbs and joint issues went away and I felt pretty good. I then decided to switch things up and started a WFPB diet about 3 months ago - lost and additional 21 lbs but am definitely seeing the adverse affect of carbs in my body. Still doing no sugar but the carbs are really affecting my joints. I am doing my own hybrid type plan taking the best from both ways and hopefully will lose some more weight and avoid joint pain!
April 27, 2021 at 2:40 pm


Thanks for sharing! Carbs and sugar can definitely impact our joints.

I like this article. I have been getting back pain that stops me from executing my tasks. I tried exercises from YT and painkillers but still have the problem. I've often thought about cutting sugar but it was too hard to give up. Today I made up my mind to cut sugar as much as possible. I was eating a lot of sugar as honey and jam, some cereals and fruit juices. I've studied the sugar contents of the foods I was eating and will eliminate anything that has more than a few grams of sugar per 100 grams.
Your website has given me extra motivation!
Thank you for such a useful article.
September 22, 2021 at 12:26 pm


Henry, we are so glad to hear that we have helped give you some motivation on cutting out sugar. Good luck on your journey, we sure hope your back is feeling better soon.

Every time I eat fruit within an hour my feet and legs hurt so bad, the only thing that relaxes them is to soak in a hot bath. Doctors just brushed me off. I found a test on amazon called 5 strands, you pulled your hair out and send it in for testing. it told me my vitamins defiance, my food intolerance and my environmental intolerance. it was expensive to my surprise just about every fruit was on it. I had no idea. I loved fruit. they said I could be fruticose intolerant. For 2 years I only eat berries, no sugar of any kind, no natural sugars like honey. And my husband is a bee keeper. I started eating fruit a little at a time, today we celebrated our anniversary with a ice cream cone. I am back to soaking my feet, I don't think I will ever be able to eat sweets again, Doctors do not believe in fruitose intolerance! I wish they could feel my pain.
October 21, 2023 at 9:48 pm

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