Turning to artificial sweeteners is generally not a good method of reducing sugar intake because the adverse effects of these chemicals – however much the manufacturers deny it – may be worse than any benefit in some individuals.
Try the following tips to help moderate or eliminate the amount of added sugar in your diet:
- Buy unsweetened cereals.
- Drink 100% fruit juices or water rather than fruit drinks, soda or punches which tend to have considerable amounts of sugar added to them.
- Avoid HFCS (high fructose corn syrup) and excessive fructose from fruits. Fructose, it turns out, in higher quantities puts you at risk for insulin resistance, hypertension, kidney damage, and leptin resistance – which translates to obesity.
- Select sugary foods that still have nutritional value. For example, choose oatmeal cookies over sugar cookies; sweeten your cereal with banana slices or raisins instead of table sugar.
- Choose fresh fruit or fruit not canned in heavy syrup to satisfy your sweet tooth.
- Go easy on or avoid foods that have the words sucrose, glucose, maltose, dextrose, fructose or syrup listed among the first three ingredients on the food label. These foods tend to contain high amounts of sugar.
- Try reducing the amount of sugar in your favorite recipes. You may be surprised that some recipes taste the same even when you reduce the sugar content by as much as 25-40%.
Remember that refined sugar includes not only “sugar”, as listed in ingredient listings, but also the brown sugar that is sold in the baking aisle in the regular grocery store. Other refined sweeteners to avoid are glucose, fructose and dextrose. Hidden sources of white sugar are in mayonnaise, ketchup, salad dressings and other condiments, unless you get them at health food stores. When you have finished the condiments that are in your fridge make a point to replace them with the white-sugar-free versions.
A more obvious source of white sugar is in jams and jellies. There are now many all-fruit varieties sweetened with concentrated grape or apple juice. There are also jams that are sweetened with honey, dehydrated cane juice, or unrefined cane sugar. How do you modify your old recipes to eliminate refined white sugar? Replace the sugar with half the amount of raw sugar (dehydrated cane juice, e.g. Sucanat, or turbinado), or half the amount of honey or maple syrup (but reduce the liquid amount by one quarter cup for every cup of honey or maple syrup used). To sweeten you can also use rice syrup, barley malt, date sugar, dried fruit, fresh fruit, fruit juice, or even rice milk. Using sweeter flours such as oat or teff also lends a natural sweetness to baked goods.
One final word – a study of healthy elderly men over many years indicated that “Mortality was lowest among those consuming candy 1-3 times a month and highest among those indulging this habit 3 or more times a week. Non-consumers of candy, however, still had the highest mortality overall.” Thus, the infrequent / occasional use of sugar seems to be the best course. [BMJ Dec 19, 1998; 317: pp.9-10] Inspite of this, it remains true that complete avoidance is best for those who are sensitive to sugar.
Sugars Avoidance / Reduction can help with the following
If people are interested in seeing if their hair pulling is food-related, there is a simple test that can be done. You should simply eat as many peanut M&Ms as you can stand at one sitting (sugar, chocolate and legumes!), washing them down with Coca-Cola (cola, caffeine and more sugar or aspartame, which is just as bad). If in 2 days there is a noticeable increase in hair pulling urges, then you could consider abstaining from “bad” foods. Unfortunately, it appears to take from 30-40 days to purge the gut and skin of their bad effects fully, and it also seems to take several attempts and about a year of trying for most pullers to achieve the desired results. People report that avoiding sugar and caffeine, which act more quickly, is the most rewarding way to start.
The list of foods that aggravate this condition includes concentrated natural sugars, tomato seeds, soy products, yams, MSG, and ibuprofen. However, there are a few “good” foods, which partially counteract the “bad” ones. They include garlic, most acidic fruits, dry red wine, unsweetened yogurt, and a chemical family called gluconates.
Further information is available from Trichotillomania Library.
Parkinson's Disease / Risk
People with a high intake of sugar (mono- and disaccharides) increase their risk of developing Parkinson’s disease by a factor of three as compared to people with a more moderate intake.
Multiple Sclerosis / Risk
Multiple Sclerosis is a disease of stress. Certain foods aggravate stress including the 5 C’s (candy, chocolate, cookies, cake, and cocktails).
Elaine Gottschall, author of Breaking the Vicious Cycle, has proposed that gut dysbiosis is a major cause of Crohn’s disease, with small and large bowel fermentation being a key component. She has used a Specific Carbohydrate Diet (SCD) restricted in disaccharide sugars and devoid of cereal grains to alter gut flora. When digestion of carbohydrates such as starches and some sugars is impaired, these items are poorly absorbed. Yeast and bacteria can then overgrow in response to these newly available nutrients, increasing toxic by-products and mucus production, resulting in further injury to the small intestine and malabsorption. Digestion is worsened – thus “the vicious cycle”. The purpose of the SCD is to deprive the microbial world in the small intestine of food it needs to overpopulate and irritate.
Please see the comment under Ulcerative Colitis and Juicing.
Mitral Valve Prolapse
Avoidance of refined sugars is commonly recommended by natural doctors.
Excess Sugar Consumption
Many resources are available to help break this bad dietary habit.
Lick the Sugar Habit and Lick the Sugar Habit Sugar Counter: Discover the Hidden Sugar in Your Food by Nancy Appleton, Ph.D.
Sugar Blues by William F. Dufty
Get the Sugar Out: 501 Simple Ways to Cut the Sugar in Any Diet by Ann Louise Gittleman
The Sugar Addict’s Total Recovery Program by Kathleen DesMaisons Ph.D. (Hardcover)
Fungus / Mycotoxin Exposure
Sugar cane and sugar beets are often contaminated with fungi and their associated mycotoxins. Fungi need carbohydrates, like sugar, in order to thrive.
Elevated Insulin Levels
The notion that foods with a low glycemic index aid fat loss is based on the idea they help to control insulin levels. A sample list of these foods can be found on our web site.
Elevated Testosterone Level, Female
While the following study did not use a study group of women diagnosed with PCOS (though some of the women in the study may also have been women with PCOS), the study’s subjects were 104 women with the highest levels of testosterone out of 312 women screened. Thus, like women diagnosed with PCOS, these subjects tended to high androgen levels. The treatment group of the study received a highly controlled diet substantially restricting refined carbohydrates, included high quality protein, and provided omega-three and monounsaturated fatty acids. After eighteen weeks, the subjects with this modified diet showed a 25% increase in SHBG, a 19.5% decrease in testosterone, and a significant decrease in the amount of insulin released in response to a glucose challenge, compared to controls. The diet in the intervention group also accounted for a loss of about 7lbs, which may have actually been the most important factor in the reduction of testosterone. [Cancer Epidemiology Biomarkers and Prevention 2001; 10(1): pp.25-33]
Weakened Immune System
Sugars have a depressive effect on the immune system.
AIDS / Risk
Sugar and corn syrup found in many desserts impair the engulfing power of white blood cells. The worst offenders are found in canned soda, candy bars, pastry and other processed desserts. Even sugars found in fruit juice, when consumed quickly, will have a depressive effect on immune cells.
Chronic Fatigue / Fibromyalgia Syndrome
Do not consume any sweets, alcohol, or caffeine for 3 to 6 months, and then limit them to moderate amounts. Expect withdrawal symptoms during the first week.
Yeast / Candida
Avoid foods high in simple carbohydrates such as refined sugars (sucrose, fructose, corn syrup), fruit juices, honey, and maple syrup.
Periodontal Disease - Gingivitis
The bacteria that come together to become plaque use sugar as a form of energy. They multiply faster and the plaque grows in size and thickness. Some of the bacteria turn sugar into a kind of glue and use it to stick themselves to the surface of the teeth. This makes it harder for the bacteria to get washed away by saliva.
Colds and Influenza
Sugar consumption is a known weakener of the immune system. Regular use of rapidly absorbed sugars slows down your immune systems ability to dispose of invading organisms.
Sugars have a depressive effect on the immune system.
Ingesting refined sugar increases triglyceride levels. People with elevated triglyceride levels should therefore reduce their intake of sugar, sweets and other sugar-containing foods. Even added fructose will raise triglyceride levels, however, the fructose found naturally in foods should be less of a problem.
Low White Count
Sugar consumption can temporarily depress the immune system and so should be avoided, especially in someone who has a challenged immune system already.
Eating a lot of foods high in refined sugar increases blood lactate levels and may induce panic in susceptible individuals.
Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD / ADHD)
The results of several studies on sugar and ADHD points to the importance of meals higher in protein and complex carbohydrates and lower in sugar. The sudden release of insulin and drop in blood glucose caused by refined sugar consumption rapidly raises adrenaline levels and contributes to the behavior and attention problems of ADHD. When feed sugar, people with ADHD release only half the adrenal hormones norepinephrine and epinephrine that control subjects do. This is just one more reason why sugar consumption should be avoided.
Metabolic Syndrome (Syndrome X)
Fructose consumption clearly causes insulin resistance, while glucose alone does not. Insulin resistance and metabolic syndrome can eventually lead to full blown diabetes.
The presence of glucose accelerates fructose absorption. So when you mix glucose and fructose together, you absorb more fructose than if you consumed fructose alone. Sucrose, or table sugar, is a 50/50 blend of fructose and glucose.
Consuming foods that contain simple sugars makes the problem worse. Avoid sweets other than fresh fruits, if tolerated. In addition, consider avoiding products that only “taste” sweet (artificially sweetened – low calorie). Even though they may contain no sugar, sending signals to your brain that something “sweet” is being consumed may have negative consequences.
Susceptibility To Cavities
Plaque begins to accumulate on teeth within 20 minutes after eating (the time when most bacterial activity occurs). If this plaque is not removed thoroughly and routinely, tooth decay will not only begin, but flourish. The acids in plaque dissolve the enamel surface of the tooth and create holes in the tooth (cavities).
Sugars and starches increase the risk of tooth decay. Sticky foods are more harmful than nonsticky foods because they remain on the surface of the teeth. Frequent snacking increases the time that acids are in contact with the surface of the tooth.
Gout / Hyperuricemia
Men who drink two or more sugary soft drinks a day have an 85% higher risk of gout than those who drink less than one a month, according to U.S. and Canadian researchers. Gout has been increasing steadily in the UK in recent years, and the researchers believe it is linked to a rise in soft drink consumption over the same period.
During the 12-year study, 46,000 men aged 40 and over were asked questions about their diet. The risk of developing gout significantly increased among men who drank five to six servings of sugary soft drinks a week. Fruit juice and fructose-rich fruits such as oranges and apples also increased the risk. Fructose is known to inhibit the excretion of uric acid, which may help to explain the study’s findings.
Diabetes Type II
No sweets except for fresh fruit should be eaten. Fruit juices and dried fruit should also be limited or avoided.
In research published in 1983 from the University Department of Medicine, scientists stated, “Bile is significantly more saturated with cholesterol after 6 weeks on a refined carbohydrate diet (white flour and sugar) than after a similar period on an unrefined carbohydrate diet (whole wheat and grains).“
Increased Risk of Diabetes ll
Sweets should be limited except for fresh fruit, which is best when eaten whole. Fruit juices and dried fruit should be limited even further.
Due to its inhibition of the immune system, sugar consumption should be stopped until all bronchitis symptoms have ceased.
Sugar and refined carbohydrates should be avoided.
See the link between Acne and a Grain-free diet. Also, minimize chocolate, nuts, soda, anything containing sugar, and dairy which can aggravate acne.
512 women, averaging 50 years of age, without diabetes, but with early-stage breast cancer were studied. Higher fasting insulin levels identified those women with poorer outcomes, with regard to time of recurrence and death [ J Clin Oncol January 1, 2002;20(1): pp.42-51]. So if you are dealing with breast cancer, do what you can to keep your insulin levels down.
Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS)
A high sugar diet causes obesity with further insulin resistance and aggravation of PCOS. According to Jerilyn Prior, M.D., the increased insulin from sugar consumption stimulates androgen receptors on the outside of the ovary, causing a failure of ovulation and the typical PCOS symptoms of hirsutism and acne.
Premenstrual Syndrome / PMDD
Reducing or eliminating alcohol, caffeine, nicotine and sugar are all diet recommendations that can improve PMS symptoms.
|May do some good|
|Likely to help|
|May have adverse consequences|
Fructose is a monosaccharide (simple sugar), which the body can use for energy. It is found mostly in fruits, honey and HFCS (high fructose corn syrup). HFCS is added to many prepared foods and drinks. It is addictive. A high intake of fructose results in craving for sweets and calories.
A hormone secreted by the pancreas in response to elevated blood glucose levels. Insulin stimulates the liver, muscles, and fat cells to remove glucose from the blood for use or storage.
High blood pressure. Hypertension increases the risk of heart attack, stroke, and kidney failure because it adds to the workload of the heart, causing it to enlarge and, over time, to weaken; in addition, it may damage the walls of the arteries.
A sugar that is the simplest form of carbohydrate. It is commonly referred to as blood sugar. The body breaks down carbohydrates in foods into glucose, which serves as the primary fuel for the muscles and the brain.
The term 'refined sugar' includes not only the “sugar” listed in ingredient listings, but also brown sugar, glucose, fructose and dextrose. Obvious sources include jams and jellies; hidden sources are often mayonnaise, ketchup, salad dressings and other condiments.