Sugar: Why Your Body Needs It

why your body needs sugar

Do you choose stevia or xylitol over natural sweeteners like honey? Do you make an effort to tightly limit natural sugar consumption due to candida issues or fear of weight gain? Then this is the post for you! Also, before we go further, let me say that I am NOT pro white sugar or corn syrup or other processed sweeteners. I do believe that natural, unprocessed sugars (like fruit, raw honey and pure maple syrup) play an important part of a healthy diet.

I tried quitting sugar. It sucked.

Part of my goal with my blog is to share my health experiences with you so that you can learn from my mistakes… without making the mistakes yourself! So here is my mistake with quitting sugar: When I first began a healing grain-free diet called the GAPS diet, my ulcerative colitis symptoms disappeared. Eager to support my body’s healing process (I really only had good intentions), I jumped on the “anti-candida diet” bandwagon (I explain below why this is a bad idea). So here I was on a limited grain free diet, and I decided also to take out honey and fruits. This sounds like an extreme choice, but many candida diets and “blood sugar control” diets actually recommend this intense carb and sugar limitation.

Well, that lasted about two weeks. Things started to slide downhill… quickly. I felt like a rock: I was so fatigued that a walk around the block left me exhausted. I was an emotional wreck and I literally couldn’t handle spilled milk. And then there were the dizzy spells. Every time I stood up or tried to walk up the stairs, my head went spinning and my vision blurred. Now I know this is because my sugar limitation had left my adrenals helpless. Interestingly, it is the adrenals job to constrict blood vessels when standing to prevent this dizziness. But adrenals need sugar to function.

When  I began loading up my body with starchy veggies like winter squash, lots of raw honey, and ripe fruit, these debilitating symptoms disappeared in a couple of days. I had learned my lesson: my body needs sugar. But I didn’t know WHY.

Why Sugar is Good for You

The-Nourished-Metabolism-Hardcover-SingleI was ecstatic nearly to the point of tears when I first read Kate’s and Cassie’s book, I Didn’t Quit Sugar. I finally understand the numerous important roles this demonized nutrient played in my health. I deeply respect Kate’s and Cassie’s no-nonsense, no-dogma philosophy about nutrition. It is truly refreshing.

UPDATE: I recently learned that this book is no longer available. I’m a bit heartbroken about it, and I’m sorry that you won’t be able to purchase it. Another great resource I would recommend to learn more about the role of sugar in the diet is the book, The Nourished Metabolism.

After taking the plunge into a very low-carb or sugar-free diet, many folks experience amazing weight loss and increased energy. Unfortunately, these are actually symptoms of disregulation in the body.

What most fail to realize is that such changes are attributable to a state of cellular stress and a consequent rise in stress hormones (remember, the cells are being denied their favourite fuel). For 3 months, 6 months, perhaps a year (this is affectionately termed the ‘honeymoon phase’), stress hormones will make you feel excellent – they promote euphoria and a heightened sense of wellbeing.

But beneath the surface, stress hormones do exactly as their name suggests – they’re a stress on the body in its entirety. Prolonged elevation can break down body tissue, impair thyroid function, damage the metabolism and devastate the body physiologically -I Didn’t Quit Sugar (Now unavailable)

Anti-dogma health renegade Matt Stone also states that depriving your body of sugar is going to mean long-term consequences. He explains in his book Diet Recovery:

Most people will eventually develop health problems on a low-carb diet (or low-fat diet, to pick on the fat haters too and anyone engaged in Macronutrient Warfare) – including even gaining a bunch of weight back that they initially lost, and they will eventually crave carbohydrates or find that a carb-free diet has become just too socially crippling.….The real answer is to improve glucose metabolism and digestion.

Problems with a Sugar-Free Diet

Although we may experience the “honeymoon period” when we first start a sugar-free diet, things start to slide downhill in the long run. Here’s some of the problems when we deprive our body of it’s favorite fuel: glucose!

    • Elevated levels of stress hormones, which exhausts the adrenals and taxes the body
    • Impaired thyroid function by lowering T3 production (as a result of increased levels of adrenaline and lack of glycogen in the liver)
    • Lowered metabolism and weight gain due to impaired thyroid
    • Weakened digestion and nutrient malabsorption
    • Systemic candida overgrowth. That’s right–the very thing you are trying to starve out with a sugar-free diet will actually get worse . The real solution is to correct digestion, heal the gut, and improve metabolism… and you need sugar in your diet to accomplish those things. Read more busted candida myths in my candida post here

Why sugar is part of a healthy diet

What about the dreaded fructose?

The recent concern about fructose led many to believe that fruits and honey, both sources of fructose, contribute to fatty liver disease and obesity. How is sugar good for you when it contains dreaded  fructose? The conclusion that fructose is essentially a poison rests on very poor science. Studies that show fructose contributes to disease use isolated fructose, such as fructose-sweetened beverages. The other studies used in the anti-fructose movement use mice. Not only do mice have a much different metabolism than humans, the mice consumed up to 60% of total calories from fructose .

While isolated fructose – including high fructose corn syrup and agave nectar – should be avoided, there is absolutely no research that shows fresh fruit or raw honey consumption contributes to obesity or fatty liver disease. As a matter of fact, fresh fruit consumption (read: not fruit juices or jarred/canned/processed fruits!) boast health-protective properties, including reducing the risk of type 2 diabetes and age of mortality (1, 2). Raw honey offers a wide range of health benefits, including anti-inflammatory flavenoids.

How to eat sugar

Your body needs sugar, but QUALITY COUNTS. Refined white sugar and high fructose corn syrup is not going to provide your body with good cell fuel.

Use unrefined sweeteners. These include things like raw honey, 100% pure maple syrup, dates, raisins, sucanut, coconut sugar, and freshly pressed at home (not commercial) fruit juices. Unlike processed sweeteners, these sugars in their whole food sources contain the minerals your body requires to metabolize the sugar.

Eat ripe fruits as snacks. Some folks find they digest fruits better when eaten without other foods. Fruits digest much faster than other foods and can cause some digestive distress if consumed with a lot of fat and protein. But we all know that fruit-based desserts like cobblers and upside-down cakes are delicious. So if you don’t have any unpleasant symptoms combining fruits with meals, have a piece of apple pie!

Skip the fruit juice. Fresh fruit is a living food, containing a synergistic combination of enzymes, vitamins, soluble fiber and minerals. Fruit juice found at the grocery store is usually pasteurized, killing the beneficial enzymes. Fruit juice is concentrated sugar and doesn’t provide the satiating properties of whole fruits. For example, you can easily gulp a glass of apple juice in five minutes, which contains the sugar equivalent of five apples!

Eat sugar with fat and protein. Quality fats slows down the absorption of glucose into the blood stream, providing satiation and satisfaction. Protein helps pull sugar into the cells so your body can use it for energy. Homemade ice cream is a great example of wholesome sweetness balanced with nourishing fat and a bit of protein.

Swap starch for fruit. I recommend this easy swap for those with troubled digestion or those wanting to loose stubborn weight. Whole-food sources of sugar support metabolism and blood sugar balance while commercially-prepared grains spike blood sugar. For example, if you usually have a sandwich for lunch, have the sandwich filling without the bread and enjoy an pear on the side.

Use natural sugars instead of sugar-free “natural” sweeteners. I quit stevia and I don’t recommend xylitol either, due to its extreme processing. Reach instead for fruits

Relax and enjoy the sugar. This point, of course, applies to anything we eat. We need to be in a parasympathetic mode to produce stomach acid and digestive enzymes. If we are stressed out or eating on the run, we can’t properly digest and assimilate the nutrients in our foods. So relax, sit down, turn off the TV, and mindfully celebrate each bite of food you take into your body. Don’t feel guilty while enjoying your healthy source of sugar. Sugar is delicious, so consciously enjoy it.

Don’t count things like grams or calories. I already shared 5 Reasons Why Calories Don’t CountCounting things like calories or sugar grams distort focus to quantity instead of quality. It also prevents a genuine relationship with food and promotes stress, not satiety (and, like I mentioned above, stress drastically impairs digestion).

What about Candida?

Do you struggle with candida? Then you need to read my post, Busted: Candida Myths! You’ll also learn the problems with the candida diet and a safer, healthier solution to eliminating candida overgrowth.

Do you have a rocky relationship with sugar? Have you tried quitting sugar before?

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Comments

  1. says

    Great post! Giving up trying to give up sugar was one of the best things I ever did for my health. Interestingly, now that I place no restriction on sugar, I hardly ever crave it. On the odd occasion where I do crave it, I don’t deny myself, and tend to naturally desire a healthier source, such as fruit or honey.

  2. Lisa Olko says

    Hi….I love this article…..but I need more definitive research on the candida issue….are you saying that there is more info in the book?

  3. Mae says

    Thanks for this post and the research. You know, we talk about “traditional” eating and then bash sugar in the same sentence–and I just don’t think that’s accurate. Going way, way back in history, sugar (or honey, fruit, etc) has been a prized food. I think that if we’re going back to the basics and back to the foods that have kept generations before us alive, healthy, and happy, we need to recognize that sugar has been there all along. Certainly not in the fake chemical form as it is today (I think those sugars should be avoided), and not in excess amounts as most Americans use it today, but it’s been a part of history and should continue to be so.

    • says

      What a great point, Mae, about the contradiction in excluding sugar from “traditional foods.” Natural forms of sugar are absolutely a traditional food!

      • reply to tjispin please says

        Hey could you reply to Tjispins post?
        2. If you have candida then you need to eat fruits with fats and proteins to slower absorbtion? Why you need it to slow? cant you eat it normal?
        3.Glycemic index of raw honey and fruits= more than 50 so it is not good for candida diet…
        I want you to answer my questions.

        Best Wishes

    • Tjspin says

      You are correct when you say it has been there all along…..for some populations. But what about those people living in the far northern climates where I am sure sugary food items were rare. Also, I bet 20,000 years ago, coming across a honey stash wasn’t a daily thing and eating a ton of fruit wasn’t in the cards either. I am on a lower carb primal diet but I do have an occasional fruit and dark chocolate. I do bake with honey but also occasionally with xylitol and stevia. I think the bigger message is eat lower sugar (compared to what most people eat daily) and try to cut out the processed sugars. I am one that does not believe a glass of 100% juice is healthy….just too much sugar in one gulp. More than we ever would have had 20,000+ years ago.

      • Jen says

        Keep in mind 20,000 years ago people died really young. Even 1,000 years ago, people died young. As we learn to live longer, I think it’s important to evolve our food/nutrition knowledge as well.

        • Ashley says

          This is an excellent point! Humanity has evolved to be a very globally connected species which has made our diet and nutritional choices more varied. Our knowledge and understanding of these relatively ‘new’ nutritional possibilities needs to keep pace with that.

          • Nurse5588 says

            Human beings weren’t morbidly obese like they are today. We have 12 year olds getting liposuction and 17 year olds getting gastric bypass. I don’t think there were 300 pound neanderthals walking around.

            • Jamie says

              That’s evolution for ya getting fatter and dying from too much sugar . . . lol . . joking. My ancestors actually lived full, healthy, longer lives the further you go back. Hmmm I guess we’re devolving that is if you believe in evolution.

        • Beth says

          Part of the reason people died young because they didn’t have hot running water or refrigeration or dental care. They also put much more of a toll on their bodies than we do today.

    • kort jezta says

      In some cultures fruit is considered toxic. Many of the fruit that we call fruit are highly bred for sweetness. You try a wild Kazakhstani apple and you’ll see.

  4. Mary says

    I have battled UC for nearly 15 years and it was the SCD in 2002 that started me on my healing journey. I always loved that Elaine allowed real honey on the diet. At times over the years I would try to go completely sugar-free and always felt guilty when I would want a sweet….especially when my body seemed to NEED it. Thank you for helping me understand it DID need it! (In natural forms, of course.) This was great information, thank you.

  5. Linda Phillips says

    Are you saying that although Stevia is a natural way to sweeten things up it doesn’t act like a sugar in your body; thereby, is not good for you? I just want to be sure I am understanding this.

    • Jayne says

      I’ve read this before regarding Stevia, and brought it up to my nutritionist. She’s been studying nutrition for 20+ years, is holistic, and has a great deal of information. She doesn’t agree with this stance on Stevia, that it tricks the body. I am fighting candida as well, and although I can have some forms of fruit, agave, etc., I have to keep it really low throughout the day. No more than 5-6 grams/serving.

  6. says

    Interesting. I have never thought about stevia as possibly being detrimental, but then I usually only use it in combination with other natural sweeteners like coconut sugar or honey.

    • says

      Well, if you’re going to eat stevia, that seems like the best way to eat it, because there will be some sugar going into your bloodstream to correlate with the sweet taste. But I do think it is best to just use the natural sweeteners without the stevia… plus, they taste better and don’t have a yucky aftertaste :)

    • Rebecca says

      I eat this one dessert/carb portion almost everyday; frozen blueberries in coconut milk mixed up to create “ice cream”. This is where I use stevia. I tried switching to palm sugar, but it wasn’t as delicious, honey doesn’t mix in properly, and I love the flavor of the stevia with it all. According to the info in this post, there should be no trickery happening to my body as I am giving it sugar.
      Alas, I’ve been healing serious metabolic damage for nearly 20 years, now. I Began with Dr. Diana Schwarzbein, discovered and corrected two severe intestinal infections, addressed food allergies, adopted and adapted the SCD along the way to end up Paleo, sort of. Only recently, have I been hearing that stevia could be harmful to the body. I’ll have to give it more consideration as I am still struggling with symptoms of metabolic imbalance.

  7. Leslie says

    Wow, this is a good one. I have often wondered to myself if we were just kidding ourselves thinking we were smarter than our bodies by substituting sweeteners (like stevia and erythritol) that are just as sweet to the palate and believing that we were “tricking” our bodies? What you are saying/proposing makes so much sense though. I am a cancer nurse though and the first thing that all of the alternative treatments say to do is NO SUGAR at all because apparently sugar is like fertilizer for cancer cells. I’m going to have to get the book and read it because it does definitely sit more right with me than no sugar at all which always seemed so unnatural. In October while on vacation in Florida I read the book Sugar Blues and I went off all sugar until Christmas time when all the doctors were bringing in all sorts of goodies for us everyday and I was taken out by baklava and other middle eastern treats and that was it for me (I had fallen off the wagon LOL). I do believe for some people, sugar is their drug of choice. I love sugar and can go without any food all day (seriously I barely think about eating when I’m at home and busy) but when I do finally want something to eat, it’s usually something sweet. Right now (which after reading this post is going to change), I have one latte a morning made with 1/2 tbsp. of organic coffee and the other 1/2 tbsp of Dandy Blend with some cocoa nibs in it and put in my Breville Espresso maker. I sweeten with erythritol and vanilla liquid stevia, some sea salt and a tbsp. of coconut oil topped with real whipped cream. Previously, I used coconut sugar, 100% pure maple syrup and raw honey (tropical traditions) and it was so-o good. You have liberated me and I’m going to go back to that, after all we’re only talking ONE drink a day. The rest of the day I drink either iced white tea flavored with real squeezed lemon and a few drops of stevia (for the entire quart Kleen Kanteen container) or RO water with lemon and stevia. I eat 72% dark chocolate which isn’t particularly sweet either. Because I see so much cancer with my job, I am very conscientious about what I put into and onto my body.

  8. Jana says

    Lauren, this is simply an excellent and well-written article, and extremely informative. I’ve been real food/WAPF even, for years, but had never made the connection between true health and the body’s need for natural sugars. I always thought any kind of cane sugar was bad, period, and felt guilty whenever I would consume any from time to time. I’ve been guilty of adding stevia drops to my herbal infusions instead of raw honey, and I realize now that the stevia actually didn’t make me feel well at all. We do use plenty of raw honey, pure maple syrup, and coconut sugar around here (though I realize I have probably consumed the least of any of us), but I will start to include some unrefined cane sugar (we get the Panela brand here which is so yummy and rich) from time to time and will not feel the least bit guilty about it. I am also planning to up our fresh fruit intake, just a bit. I wonder now if this is why my adrenal fatigue has not gotten a great deal better, though I’ve been doing so many natural things to help my body heal. Perhaps I haven’t been consuming enough natural carbs and sugars to nourish my adrenals.

    Thank you so much for this timely article! I’m sharing this on Facebook! :-)

  9. Liza says

    Fascinating. I just found your blog and I have to say, what you write here and in your other articles makes a lot of sense. Thank you for finally saying (though not as bluntly as I’m about to) that there is no magic fix for weightloss. The low-sugar trend is rampant right now and while I agree Americans generally have gone overboard on carbs and sugar, the pendulum need not swing so far the other way (as it is right now). This article demonstrates that moderation in all things (except the REALLY bad stuff) is the key. Nice work!

  10. Peggy Yost says

    I don’t eat sugar because it hurts my teeth. Most of my teeth have been pulled. I have a few left and they are extremely sensitive, and sugar gets in there and is painful. I use artificial sweetener in coffee, that’s it. I have sugar in fruits, and I use honey sometimes, and occasionally will have some chocolate.

    • Joni Peterson says

      You should check out Ramiel Nagel’s book, Cure Tooth Decay, if you haven’t already. I think it would really help with the sensitivity and pain, and help keep your remaining teeth healthy and prevent new decay! You can find the book on amazon.

  11. Kirsten says

    Great article, I really like your blog. I have been paleo for about four months, and I am having maybe one piece of fruit a day, with no other sweets at all. I still have starchy squash, and lately a little more like sweet potato. I think my body is telling me something! Will make sure I am getting a little more fruit and maybe some honey. Thanks for making me think!

  12. says

    Really great piece. I must say, that in my own experience, dramatically lowering sugar while dramatically increasing nutrient-dense food (especially good fats) improved my over-all health and endocrine balance. I really can’t eat pie with any regularity, or cookies. It’s all to refined and I end up at the mercy of the endorphines and happy chemicals, and suddenly I’ve binged. For me, it’s just best to stick to whole foods except for very special occasions.

    I do use raw honey once a day in my tea.

  13. says

    I am so grateful to you for writing this post. I spent the better part of a decade (including growing and nursing a child) as a low-fat, sugar-free vegetarian. Can you IMAGINE how unhealthy I was?? It got bad, real bad. I have been on a traditional foods diet (and GAPS) for a while now, and have seen so many improvements. Initially, I tried to cut out honey and do lower carbs because candida was SO bad…but I wound up feeling terrible. I have since changed to eating unrestricted amount of carbs (in the form of squash or fruit), honey, etc and I do notice that I don’t have the cravings. However, I have had this lingering guilt every time I eat something sweet (it’s always either fruit, or a gaps friendly dessert with honey). This is the second article I’ve read in a week about carbs/sugar being required! You’re totally right – this is no better than demonizing fat! Duh. Thanks again – I needed to read this. I’m going to go eat a few dates now. :)

  14. Paige says

    Such a great post, thank you! I will definitely be purchasing this ebook. Sugar has always been such a tough thing for me to figure out in terms of healing the gut. Following the GAPS/SCD diet and also keeping cutting out sugars is so hard and clearly not the right thing to do. I definitely felt the effect of elevated stress hormones – not a good feeling! Really interesting, excited to read more.

  15. Jill says

    Great article, but not true for everyone. In modern times, we have access to an unprecedented amount of fructose/ sugar/ unnatural sweeteners. Kicking the sugar habit is hard for people who feel completely debilitated with cravings. Instead of telling people that it is not necessary, they should be empowered to try it. Sugar can contribute to inflammation, weaken the immune system, worsen PMS symptoms, and feed candida overgrowth. And true, raw honey and organic fruit is an excellent form of fructose. If most of us were raised on those and not all of the other crap, things would be a lot different!

    • says

      I was dealing with stressed out adrenals and wanted to help them, so I cut out all sweets and caffeine (as well as processed foods) for 2 weeks – absolutely NONE of these crossed my lips. After the two weeks were up, I GRADUALLY re-introduced small amounts of healthy sweets (a piece of fruit, a teaspoon of honey in my tea, a teaspoon of maple syrup drizzled over my oatmeal, etc.) This worked for me, but obviously it may not work for everyone. Everyone is unique so you have to figure out for yourself if and when you can re-introduce sweets into your diet.

  16. eema.gray says

    Since early fall, I’ve had very little desire to eat fruit. I’ve enjoyed several birthday cakes enormously but otherwise, very little sugar. It just doesn’t appeal. Now potatoes, sweet potatoes, and all manner of starchy carbs, I can eat those morning noon and night. So I eat starchy carbs and enjoy the ocassional homemade birthday cake.

  17. Joyce says

    WOW! This post seems to sum up everything I’ve been through in the past year! THANK YOU!

    I’ve recently lost about 15lbs because I was on a low-carb, sugar-free diet. I ate minimal amounts of sugar, let alone fruit, and I definitely think that it took a toll on my body. On top of this diet, I was doing performing (I’m a dancer) everyday! So I was very tired ALL.THE.TIME.

    Now that I’ve finished my job, I still have a major issue with controlling my sugar intake and I just can’t seem to stop eating it!!! >< I feel so helpless at times and I know it is NOT healthy. Your post has shed light that there is hope :) Thank you so much!

    Will definitely look into the book too! :D

  18. says

    Thank you for posting this info. It’s made me understand why I’m addicted to needing something sweet and why stevia hasn’t been the best option for me. Having had it for yrs, and needing it strong cos I’m so used to the taste, and thinking it was fine cos it has no calories… has definitely done me some harm. I know I’ve had adrenal issues and have a low thyroid. So understanding the role of sugar and natural sweeteners has been really enlightening for me.
    My partner doesn’t eat much fruit but always had stevia. He stopped having it for a few weeks and easily lost some weight, and felt better. I was so confused as to why. But now it makes sense. And he craves fruit occasionally which is obviously his body asking for some natural sugar. It’s great his body is more aware of how those things effect him. I know I need to really cut back on then remove the stevia. I have parasites and will be doing a big 2 mth cleanse soon, which will mean no sugars and certain veg etc for a while, but it’ll be good to get off the stevia before that and see how it makes me feel.

    I think at the end of the day, whether natural sugars are consumed or not has to come down to a person’s current state of health. As with anything health-related, it’s got to be completely about what a person’s body needs at any one time.

    Thanks again for the info!!! :)

  19. Skeptic says

    Hi Lauren,

    I’m slightly skeptical to the claim that your body needs sugar, as well as to the claim that sugar are our cells favorite fuel.

    As I understand it, all macromolecules (sugar, protein, carbs) can be metabolized to a point where Acetyl CoA is produced, which enters the kreb cycle and, to avoid getting too complicated, drives aerobic respiration and generates the majority of ATP that our cells need.

    While I’d agree that when amino acids (subunits of proteins) are converted into molecules that can enter the kreb cycle, they produce amonia and urea as byproducts, which can be harmful in large amounts, I’m unaware of any metabolic pathways that would lead to elevated stress hormones, lowered metabolism, impaired thyroid function, weakened digestion, etc, by restricting sugar, unless you are also restricting calories in general.

    I haven’t had the opportunity to go over the references listed on the website for the Platt & Skinner book, but I did note in some of the titles of the studies cited, that calorie restriction was included as a variable.

    Could you explain, or perhaps touch upon how carbohydrate restriction leads to one of the symptoms you noted above?

    Thanks

    • says

      Yes, of course our bodies can utilize fats, protein and carbs for fuel. But the question is, “how it it best to fuel our bodies?” We need to ask how we can give our bodies nutrients in a way that optimally supports body function. Your questions are answered in the I Didn’t Quit Sugar book. It is a wonderful read and I really recommend it!

      • Mister worms says

        What is “best” will vary from person to person because each person’s life stage, health status/history, activity level, stress level, etc. will vary. Instead of being swayed by the latest dietary trend, why not test your own tolerance for sugars? Does stevia cause you to have hypoglycemic episodes? What do your blood sugars look like an hour after a very starchy meal?

        I think you’re talking about an extremely tiny sliver of people who are on a truly low carb diet. And it may very well be working for them. An even tinier sliver carry on with very low carb over the long term. Most Americans are in no way in danger of underconsuming sugar… quite the opposite.

        Ideally a healthy human is metabolically flexible and can switch from sugar- to fat-burning without becoming an immobile lump or mental case.

  20. Augusts Bautra says

    Those two magic weeks – you quit just before you became keto-adapted. This is a well known amount of time needed for metabolism to shift from glucose utilization in the brain to using ketones as brain fuel. Too bad this common failure has convinced you that sugar is essential, much like a smoker’s failure to quit reinforces the psychological need to justify the addiction and the subconscious comes up with rationalizations why not quitting yet is a good idea.

    • says

      You are drawing a comparison between a smoking addiction and my experience with quitting sugar? I believe that we can be addicted to refined sugars if we have a poor diet, but I eat a very balanced diet and my body is not addicted to natural sugar… my body was telling me it needed sugar to function.

      Our bodies can function without sugar. But that usually entails giving up a social life, being obsessed with food preparation, manically counting carbs, and sacrificing healthy hormones and healthy metabolism. That is NOT how I want to live my life.

      The question is, “how is it best to fuel our bodies?” We need to ask how we can give our bodies nutrients in a way that optimally supports body function. And my answer to that is with some natural sugars.

      • says

        “Our bodies can function without sugar. But that usually entails giving up a social life, being obsessed with food preparation, manically counting carbs, and sacrificing healthy hormones and healthy metabolism. That is NOT how I want to live my life.”

        Completely wrong. I eat every meal in restaurants (fast and normal). It two me about two weeks to become keto-adapted, and that was seven months ago. Oh, and 45 pounds ago, and 6 inches around my waist ago, and type-2-hypertension-to-textbook-bloodpressure ago as well.

        I have not given up a social life. I do not get obsessed about food preparation. There’s nothing manic about ballparking something under 75 net carbs a day. My hormones have never been better, because I’m now eating a lot more dietary fat. And my metabolism, as a “fat burner” is more like the way we were designed to run, instead of the silly sugar-burning-and-insulin-dumping cycle the modern american diet suggests.

        I agree with “Augusts Bautra”… you gave up too early. I suggest you try it again. It’s working for and hundreds of thousands of others out there.

  21. Amber Margheim says

    This sort of makes sense to me. After over a year on a low carb diet, I started to have the occasional bit if candy again until it got to a habit again. However, one piece a day is not making me gain weight and I actually feel better.

      • kort jezta says

        Since the book is not available and since, perhaps unlike Kate and Cassie, I am no time traveller and since paleontologists can only speculate, then please enlighten us. What sugar did humans eat in the past?

        • Molly says

          “When archaeologists opened an 18th Dynasty Egyptian tomb in the Valley of the Kings, they made a startling discovery. There, amid furniture, vehicles and other funerary artifacts they discovered vessels full of honey. It had crystallized but was still edible. Honey that was over three thousand years old was not only still in the tomb it was still edible and had not spoiled in any way.” (ancientstandardDOTcom) Is this proof enough for you? Jeeze.

  22. Mister worms says

    The source for the stevia = hypoglycemia claim has no source. I would be curious to see where this data came from. I would think it’s a possibility in people who have poorly controlled blood sugar but then I think they could experience hypoglycemia eating caloric sugars as well.

    Save for fruit, the natural sugars you list are all processed in some way, removing fiber and nutrients. They are marginally better than white cane sugar and the trivial amount of nutrients they end up containing can be easily gotten from whole animal or vegetable foods. For example, maple syrup is sap from a tree which is boiled down to remove water. The original source, like sugar cane, has an extremely high fiber content. That is precisely the problem we face with sugar today. Sugars and starches are cleaved from their original, whole food sources which nature had packaged with water and fiber. The laborious processing is outsourced and all we have to do is pick a jar up off the shelf to consume these concentrated sugars.

  23. Skeptic says

    I think the biggest issue is the statement “Why your body needs sugar”, because it’s based on the premise that your body needs sugar. This just isn’t true. Also the “best way to fuel your body” depends to a large degree on your lifestyle, and even then I would hesitate to say that sugar is “necessary” or even ideal.

    The article should be titled “Why I prefer sugar in my diet”. I hate to be a nazi about it, but I think it’s important to get the semantics right.

  24. sheryl says

    Hi Lauren, I follow a lot of your recipes and tips, being that you research things well. I am trying to go back to as natural a diet as possible, using heirloom seeds, and grains in their original forms. If we use rapadura (which is still processed), I think it may be a good sub for sugar as well in baking. What do you think?

    • says

      Yes, I think rapadura or sucanut are fine in small amounts. Coconut sugar also substitutes cup-for-cup for regular sugar. My favorite sweeteners are pure maple syrup and raw honey, but it can sometimes be difficult to adapt baking recipes for liquid sweeteners.

  25. Ana says

    So, Lauren, you have described me. I was diagnosed with celiac in ’06. I didn’t have alot of GI issues but I did have unexplained weight gain. Then I went GF and developed food sensitivities so I went to SCD and then GAPS. I found it impossible to be 100% legal so I occasionally have white rice and sweet potatoes and maybe an Hagaan Daz for a rare treat. Then I had a scary pregnancy and a baby who has had GI issues and doesn’t sleep (so I don’t either) and then using stevia as my main sweetener and I feel like I gain weight by merely looking at food. I don’t eat very much and yet my belly is swollen, I fight depression, my hair is still falling out, my skin is dry, I feel terrible and am having hot flashes more than being cold. How do I include honey and fruits again without my blood sugar going nuts? And without gaining alot of weight? I see your premise just don’t know what to do next.

    • says

      I would suggest reading the book–it has good suggestions for eating sugar and maintaining blood sugar. I gained weight with my diet changes and you might, too. But sometimes we have to gain weight to get to a healthy place. Once we are in that healthy place, our bodies will come to our ideal weight naturally: “Don’t lose weight to get healthy, get healthy to lose weight.”

    • Salena says

      If I were you, I would consult a Naturopathic Doctor or someone who does Nutrition Response testing. You probably have some major thyroid/adrenal issues that can be helped with whole food supplements and someone who can help you with your diet! You CAN feel better : )

    • Caroline says

      Ana – you are describing what a fair few people have found who don’t have enough fat in their diets. Could that be you? Look up the benefits of raw organic unrefined coconut oil, used in place of butter. Hope it helps.

  26. Sherri says

    I have been on Paleo since last Jan 2013 – I noticed I always crave for dark choc when I get into work with my organic coffee or herbal teas. I will crave for Dove Dark choc maybe 5 to 10 per days. Is it too much or any idea to replace it or ? Suggestion?

  27. Karibeth says

    Thanks for this post. I am getting prepped to put my son on GAPS after being GF, SF, CF, and egg, legume, nut, and corn free for a number of years due to all if his allergies. I was playing with the idea of cutting out his coconut sugar, honey, and maple syrup at the same time to go after yeast. (not leaving the poor fellow much to enjoy ;)
    After reading your post, I think we will keep our yummy sweeteners and just focus on healing. The more I read and learn, the more it reaffirms my belief that traditional whole food is what is most important for us.
    Thanks for your posts and recipes. :)

  28. Jan J. says

    I was sad about the almond flour, though deep down I knew it was probably true already, but I like this post LOL! I do use stevia mostly with having diabetes to sweeten my drinks, but I do eat a bit of raw honey most days – I sweeten coconut oil with it for a treat with cinnamon and sometimes eat a bit of peanut butter dipped in honey. I used to mix stevia with coconut sugar but it got too expensive for me. I haven’t had testing strips in a long time – no insurance, not much work – but last time I checked it was 122, which is good for me – on the day I was diagnosed it was 534 – and I had had honey not much earlier. I think it makes sense that our bodies need it and proper salt (unprocessed of minerals) as well. I also have hypertension but I use as much RealSalt as I want and it doesn’t make my blood pressure go up. I would like to read this book, especially if they include type 2 diabetics.

  29. Amanda Lindsey says

    http;//tv.greenmedinfo.com/sugar-the-bitter-truth Please check this out it explains how fructose is a toxin very interesting info

  30. Caroline says

    Great post! It’s sad that many people don’t know how to have sugar in the diet but not in crazy high amounts. Definitely agree with you on all the no calories sweeteners, artificial or even natural like stevia/monk fruit. Even agave, touted as a low glycemic sweetener could be equal if not worse to High fructose corn syrup with up to 90% fructose sometimes. I love my honey and maple syrup.

  31. Caroline says

    Great post! It’s sad that many people don’t know how to have sugar in the diet but not in crazy high amounts. Definitely agree with you on all the no calories sweeteners, artificial or even natural like stevia/monk fruit. Even agave, touted as a low glycemic sweetener could be equal if not worse to High fructose corn syrup with up to 90% fructose sometimes. I love my honey and maple syrup.

  32. Ger says

    I can see what this article is getting to, but It also paints a picture to go out and buy a bunch of sugary stuff and eat it because its ok. Stevia doesn’t trick your body into anything. It’s a herbal plant. Aspartame on the other hand is a man made chemical which does. We don’t need to purposely eat foods that give us fructose. If we eat a balanced diet with not excessively consuming carbs our body will have enough fructose in it. Honey instead of white sugar is obviously a better choice. But in the end after the honeys vitamins are processed you still have fructose that your body has to deal with. So MODERATION is important. Excessive sugar leads to type 2 diabetes, high cholesterol, heavy weight gain, and also now has been linked to Alzheimer’s. Everyone watch “Sugar the bitter truth” on youtube.

    Use it, don’t abuse it!

    • says

      Seriously? You think this post “paints a picture to go out an buy a bunch of sugary stuff and eat it because its ok.” That is not at all the point of this post and I made it quite clear.

      For many, many individuals, stevia does raise blood sugar. And fructose is not an evil food. Read the I Didn’t Quit Sugar book for great information about fructose.

      • Anna says

        Stevia does not raise my blood sugar. Honey, fruit, coconut sugar etc. DO. Guess I am not one of the many. I will stick to the stevia.

      • Davida says

        The body does not react to stevia like it reacts to sugar. The body reacts to the substance that is consumed. Stevia does not have the chemical composition that sugars do, so the body does not have the same reaction to it. I am type 2 diabetic, and react very strongly to all “natural” sweeteners, such as honey, maple syrup, fruit, etc. My blood sugar will shoot up 60-100 points with just a teaspoon of honey. I use stevia in my coffee. My blood sugar does not budge. I also have fructose-induced fatty liver, which I have been slowly healing with a low carb diet and milk thistle. Stevia CAN lower blood sugar, however, by it’s own mechanisms. Not raise, then plummet, like a sugar high then crash. Just lower it some. It seems to be due to increasing cell sensitivity to insulin.

  33. morgan says

    Stevia made my hypoglycemia off the charts terrible, sometimes the real thing (sugar) in the healthiest form is best….

  34. owen says

    Sugar is not a necessary nutrient

    Not as if you should avoid natural food that contains sugar

    But just figure the access caveman had to honey, maple syrup, etc. Gathering honey for instance, is a significant feat!

  35. says

    I just came across your Facebook page and decided to pop over to your blog to take a look and this post caught my eye. Just wondering what your thoughts are on the whole fructose thing? I went through an 8 week quit sugar program which essentially went through a step-by-step process of quitting sugar, that is all fruit at the start, the white stuff, honey, maple syrup… basically all sweeteners. At the end you could introduce back low fructose fruits like berries and use things like stevia and xylitol as sweeteners. I will admit the program definitely helped me kick the white stuff and helped me deal with my sugar cravings much better! But I stopped using stevia as an alternative sweetener… I now use mainly raw honey and eat fruit other than berries, but I can’t eat too much fruit… I get stomach pain if I eat too much or if I mix fruits like in a fruit salad.

  36. says

    I LOVE YOUR POSTS SO MUCH! I agree so whole heartedly…I gave up refined sugar last May 5th when I started the GAPS diet, but by no means could I keep myself from fruit, and honey, and (yes, I know) bits of stevia…this was a really informitave article concerning stevia…thank you! we use stevia in our tea, and i would always rather use stevia then sugar..and since Im from Texas you cant keep me away from the iced tea:) but nonetheless, it was good to here from you that stevia does need to be rationed out. this article came at a great time! THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU…off to eat my grapefruit for breakfast:)

  37. says

    When I think of sugar I think of SUGAR. Not maple syrup, fruit, or honey. Sugar itself IS an inflammatory but these other items are natural and good for the body. Of course all things in moderation. No one I know who decided to “quit” sugar also quit honey, fruit, or maple syrup. I can see where that and a grain free diet would make a person extremely ill.

    When I quit white refined sugar (which is from GMO beets) my body responded not well at first but came around and I am much healthier now. I have been off that sugar for years. I do however eat in small amounts raw cane sugar.

    The best way to see what is good for you body is to muscle test everything before putting it into your body.

  38. Monica says

    How does this factor into healing protocols like GAPS and healing tooth decay. Is it always bad to eliminate sugar and carbs? I haven’t read the book yet, but it is in my understanding that Cure Tooth Decay recommends eliminating all sugars and even properly prepared grains. Thank you for your input.

    • says

      I’m on GAPS and I make sure to include plenty of raw honey, ripe fruits and starchy veggies. I have not read the Cure Tooth Decay book (but I have heard Dr. Ramiel speak on a podcast) so I don’t know how carbs fit into the tooth decay diet.

  39. Ryan deJager says

    I think you’re being a little hard on stevia. Yes it may not be a good idea for someone with hypoglycemia to consume say a drink sweetened with only stevia. But for people who don’t have hypoglycemia and eat a fair bit of sugar already it can be used to decrease overall sugar intake, particularly if consumed with other CHO sources. I doubt there’s any actual evidence showing that stevia causes a stress response.

    I’ve read studies showing that stimulating the sweet taste buds on the tongue do stimulate an insulin response, but how big of a response is it actually? Does anyone know?

  40. Caitlin says

    This is so confusing as it is the exact opposite info presented in Primal Body Primal Mind, which was very well researched and convincing (as well as many other Paleo books). Argh!

  41. magda says

    The premise that xylitol or stevia are bad assumes that you eat it in isolation, which is probably not what people do. We do combine it with some carbs: as in coconut flour for baking, dates, nuts raisins in other desserts and so on. I don’t think that that they can have a detrimental effect in those cases.

    • says

      Yes, that is a good point. If you are using stevia in coffee, for example, there are no other carbs and it can stress out blood sugar. But it is different if you are consuming it in conjunction with something that is sweet and sugary, like dates or raisins.

  42. victoria says

    I really like this post. I’ve been doing low carb paleo for quite some time now and noticed how my body would ‘cry out’ for something sweet after a few yrs. being strict. I checked out Mr. Stone and I do agree with him on not restricting fruits, even have some whole food sweeteners if you’d like. But I can’t say I’d recommend his advice now. He seems to be all about white sugar, white flour, and eating junk to bring up the metabolism. Tried that and felt terrible and gained 40 lbs. Now I’m back to paleo with fruits and some starches such as sweet potato and squash.

    Thanks for putting together a post without mentioning refined foods! This is great advice :)
    I still feel better without grains and hope that those interested in paleo/primal will find that there are many ways to go about it (low, moderate, high carb). Happy Friday!

    • says

      Yes, I agree with Matt on many points but I don’t think it is necessary to eat junk food to raise metabolism. Nobody needs GMO high fructose corn syrup in their diet!

  43. Dana says

    We are on the 21 day sugar detox right now…and I actually feel great…I think that the point of it is to show you how much refined sugars and simple carbs you were eating. And to get you un-addicted to refined sweeteners and artificial sweeteners. I have really appreciated them focusing us back on natural sources of sugar-fruit, honey, milk even. And when we’re off the detox Monday, I am looking forward to changing a lot of how we eat. :) Thanks for the article! It was the “why” behind what we are already going for.

  44. says

    I’ve noticed when I get a real sugar craving, if I eat low calorie or low sugar cookies, I need more of them. If I eat a good quality cookie, I can be satisfied with just 1 or 2.

  45. Miss Piggy says

    Thank you for this post. I started out with SCD/GAPS well over a year ago. This helped healing my gut, but I did not get my bodyweight sufficiently up. I also still had candida issues so I cut out all the sweet things and added more fat, and sort of rolled into the whole “paleo” thing, inclusive the intermittent fasting protocols. I was happy because this cured me of my carb-addiction. Previously I needed food about every 2hrs, and could not even cycle for half an hour without having a sugar crash (trembling, light headedness etc). The low carb thing really helped me there. I was fully fat adapted (so yes, I have been doing this long enough >12M)… BUT…The initial high of going low carb, never came back, no matter how much more carbs I cut out. My athletic perfomance never came back to what it was before. I used to do competition and now I can hardly get up the stairs. I had binge attacks (nuts & nut butters), did not sleep well, and (this was the real trigger to try this, along with the athletic performance) had very low body-temperature and was always cold.
    So I was already thinking of upping the carbs, but felt insecure, because I don’t want to become a carb addict again….
    Anyway, your article and the book gave me the push I needed. I had my first breakfast in ages yesterday. I must admit I feel weird, my body will need re-adjusting I guess. I hope it won’t take too long. I feel a sort carb-addict trembling which worries me…But I already feel warmer (yes, after 1 day) and slept better.
    Saturday is my first training with more carbs. Not sure if I already will notice a difference. But the last two sessions were horrible. The participants had to wait for me al the time because I couldnt keep up. We’ll see how this goes.

    All the best,
    MissPiggy

    • Caroline says

      It’s strange how we all differ. I have the opposite to you. I train heavily on a low carbohydrate diet and have never had more energy. I used to be cold too, but along with a low carb diet I started taking Mediterranean Pine Bark and have had warm feet nearly all the time since.

  46. says

    Okay, I have not yet read through all of the responses to this great article (that has me smiling!), so it may have already been covered… How DO we exactly improve glucose metabolism?! So much to read, so little time!! Thank you for a great article!

  47. says

    This article is very enlightening. Thanks so much for writing it.

    I always thought I had an odd relationship with sugar. If I eat junk food, I lose weight. Over the holidays, I went on a binge and noticed I lost weight again. (I had stopped the junk food binging as I got older). I actually lost 10 lbs in a month from all the ooey gooey goodies around Christmas time. Then I decided to get back to eating healthy, cutting out as much junk food as possible (though not sugar. I still eat it, but in moderation). Well, I gained all that weight I had lost in about a couple months. Really bums me out.

    But from what I’ve gleaned in the comments above Mr. Stone recommends eating all that junk food to raise your metabolism, which is apparently what I need. Ugh, I don’t want to do that. Is there a book you recommend about raising metabolism, but in a healthy way?

  48. Rebekah says

    Hi there, I was wondering if you know why all the links to the ‘I didn’t quit sugar’ book are broken :( The facebook link, as well as your links to the ebook all lead me to an error page….any ideas?

  49. Erin says

    Great article. You have got me thinking. I have not had sugar in years and I am battling adrenal exhaustion and low body temp among other issues. Now, is it just me or does the link for the ebook not work? Thanks!

  50. PeggyC says

    I’m sorry, but Biologically speaking, there are no essential carbohydrates. Period. We don’t NEED sugar and for some it can be problematic. I’m not talking about the sugar in whole fruit. That’s fine in moderation. But if you think honey, maple syrup, and such are any different as far as your body goes than refined sugar, starch, and HFCS, you’re wrong. Once inside the body, they all turn into glucose and fructose, which for many in this country full of obese, T2 diabetics, and people with heart disease or cancer, is not good. If you are not insulin resistant and can tolerate some sugar, go for it, but please don’t tell people they need sugar. That’s not true. Me, I’m not diabetic or, as far as I know, insulin resistant, but I eat as little sugar as possible. I don’t even eat a lot of fruit. Because I don’t want cancer and there’s new evidence that consistently high insulin can promote (not causes) cancer. And there is nothing wrong with natural no carb/no calorie alternatives like Stevia. To each his/her own and I don’t have a problem with anyone doing what they want and what works for them. But, scientifically speaking, it is wrong to say we need sugar in any form. We don’t.

  51. zosia says

    1) To the above: YES, we DO need sugar. We just need the RIGHT kinds of sugar…

    2) “Stevia is “sweet” on the palate, so the body assumes it is receiving sugar and primes itself to do so. Glucose is cleared from the bloodstream and blood sugars drop, but no real sugar/glucose is provided to the body to compensate. When this happens, adrenaline and cortisol surge to mobilize sugar from other sources (liver and muscle glycogen, or protein, or body tissue) to bring blood glucose back up. ”

    As for this…

    If we add stevia to something that already has sugar in it (i.e. a smoothie with banana), is that o.k. because our body IS getting the sugar that our brain is signalling we are about to receive…plus we get the “advantage” of a little bit of calorie-free sweetener (the concentrate)????? OR sometimes I use the actual LEAVES (how do you feel about the PLANT?)

    What do you think? (I know you’re “against” stevia), but I’m talking in terms of the quoted paragraph…

    Thanks!

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  53. Kelsey says

    Wow! I am SO glad that I found this article! I started doing the GAPS diet in May and am still on the intro phases. I have been experiencing horrible fatigue and a couple other random symptoms. I’ve always been fairly slim, but I’ve even developed a bit of a belly these past three months. I haven’t been able to figure out if I’ve been experiencing die-off-symptoms or not. I am SOOOO glad I read this. I haven’t touched sugar of any form since May! Hope I can undue some of the damage I’ve been doing to myself! Thank you for taking the time to post this!

  54. Darcy says

    Hi Lauren,
    I love this article and I actually came across it looking for your opinion on RAW sugar? I searched the web awhile and only came across some “mainstream” articles on the topic, so I just decided to come straight here for a more researched opinion. I would prefer raw sugar as an alternative to the processes and refined white sugar, but would you still recommend other natural sources of sugar like honey over raw sugar? I can see how other sources have other health benefits, but in certain scenarios it’s just more convenient to use straight sugar. Opinions and thoughts? I’d love your feedback!

    • says

      If you are healthy, unrefined sugar (such as coconut sugar or rapadura, not the brand Sugar in the Raw which is very processed) is okay in moderation. But if there is digestion issues, then it is best to stick with fruit and raw honey. These have more nutrients and easier-to-digest sugars.

  55. says

    I gave up sugar completely two years ago. I was forced into it by my body, as my adrenals freaked out every time I ate any sugar. Sugar…meaning honey, agave, dates, etc.. I can only eat fruits and 2 oz of fruit juice and stevia. It took a while, but the cravings finally died down and I was so much more grounded and calm and on an even eating keel. My body loved it! It still does. I can now eat 10 grams of sugar if I want to, which isnt’t much, but I do have a square of chocolate or something sometimes. I felt really good on this plan, and so this is what I do. I don’t think I need honey or dates…it would really mess up this calm awesome thing I’ve got going on, yet I have energy as well. At my last applied kinesiology appointment, my body said it loved whatever it was that I was doing, and to keep doing it. This is good!

  56. Janneke says

    This is VERY interesting though I will need more convincing! I definitely have a sweet tooth, prior to my finding out about my candida/mold problem back in May and my body’s inability to break down sugars properly when I eat. So I quit sugar. And I cheated a few times, but I would break out really bad again and so I would resolve to be super strict again with eating more vegetables and fruits and no starches and sugars. Precisely at that time my menstrual cycle went wacko on me and has been wacko the past 3 months! Super long cycles as opposed to unusually short ones after I got my IUD out last year. I’m really frustrated but as you said, it’s a journey and a process. We learn more as we go, and I’m grateful that I found this post so I can have more to think about. I’m just sick and tired of my cystic acne and my leaky gut! Just when you think you’re doing right by your body, you find out you might NOT be doing all of it right.

  57. says

    Our bodies do not need any form of sugar…they produce plenty of it themselves. Carbs, any form of carbs (except dietary fiber) turn into glucose in our blood stream. This is what our bodies were designed to do. This is, in fact, how we evolved (this from someone who actually HAS a degree in human evolution). An overabundance of protein also turns into glucose in our blood stream. The only form of fuel that does not is fat. Early humans would have had access to many foods, but fruits would have been quite a limited part of it (only seasonally available in many climes). Honey, dates, maple syrup…not often available without a serious amount of work on behalf of the humans. Early diets would consist mostly of vegetables and some meat with lots of fat on it.

    But we aren’t early humans and we have access to all sorts of foods at any time of the year. Yay us! Problem is that we’ve come to rely on easy carbs as a source of fuel and our bodies are all sorts of messed up because of it. Our bodies come to crave carbs for fuel, and they learn less how to process fat for fuel. And all of our most recent research is on the carb-adapted, so it skews the results to suggest that we NEED carbs. We don’t…at least not in high quantities. Now that I have become low carb, I have fueled half-marathons on 2 egg omelets with cheese, and I am usually within the top 10 to 20% of finishers (men and women). I’ve taught my body to burn fat for fuel. I am not no-carb, I stick in the 70 g per day range. My body does not need sugar.

    I also happen to be diabetic…slender, healthy, fit, but I got diabetes. It’s becoming an increasing phenomenon, type 2 diabetics that don’t fit the stereotype. It’s very much due to a high reliance on carbs that our bodies don’t really need. Let’s not fool ourselves. Natural sugars are pretty much all the same once they are in the blood stream. If I read one more time that palm sugar is low glycemic, I may poke my eyes out with a rusty fork. Not to a diabetic, it’s not.

    And as for sweet tastes “priming” the body and sending people into hypoglycemia…I am highly doubtful of this. Your source provides no source of her own on that statement, and she’s also referring only to stevia, so to lump them all in together is not fair. It may, in fact, be stevia alone that causes this and not just anything with a “sweet taste”. See quote from link below…

    http://www.acu-cell.com/dis-hyp.html

    “Because of its blood sugar-lowering and blood pressure-lowering potential, the sweetener stevia
    should be evaluated first on an individual basis, before being regularly used by anyone suffering from hypo-
    glycemia, or general glucose tolerance problems. Feedback has been mixed, with stevia being well tolerated
    by some, but less so (i.e. aggravated low blood sugar symptoms) by others.”

    This would suggest that people prone to hypoglycemia may be affected, whereas others would not. I use a little stevia, but I also use erythritol. I’ve experienced no blood-sugar lowering affects, although fortunately neither of them raise my blood sugar either.

    We are not all the same. Diet is not a one-size fits all. Sugar is NOT most people’s friend. If it works for you, great.

  58. Diana says

    I am a diabetic too and if I ate the sugars that are suggested in this blog, it would kill me. Honey, Maple Syrup…. are you kidding me?

    Sugar is not everyone’s friend and it is especially not a friend to a diabetic.

  59. Dax says

    Giving up all sugars (Carbohydrates) is unhealthy, but excess amounts of carbs is just as bad, if not worse. Excess amounts of sugars, especially monosaccharides, leads to inflammation, and chronic diseases. Fructose is the worst one in excess, due to the fact that cells easily absorb it. Recommending fruit juice is not something I support, because fruit juice is like drinking high fructose corn syrup. There is nothing slowing the absorption rate. Also, what about people who have diabetes? I personally believe that diets high in healthy fats is a good choice for more people than what most are taught to believe, although high fat diets are not for everyone. I personally believe whole coconut milk is a good choice for healing the intestines, with separate supplementation of a probiotic with the binomial nomenclature of Bacillus coagulans.

    • says

      Yes, this post is obviously not written for diabetics. Like you say, healthy fats are imperative for diabetics. And I agree that excess carbs/sugar is more harmful than giving up all carbs.

  60. Kathi Petersen says

    I’m on an anti candida diet too, for years and years, sort of on and off again. I find that if I limit grains strictly and have no sugar (including natural sugar or fruit) I feel SO MUCH better! And then if I have even a small amount of sugar I’m completely exhausted and have no energy for a couple of days. Interesting that for you it is the opposite. Makes me wonder if I should experiment a bit and try some sweet things (although I have to say I absolutely can’t stand sweet food in any form). Of course perhaps that is because it feels so WRONG to eat it … Interesting reading this, I’ve just discovered your blog today for the first time and I’m reading so many interesting things! Thanks so much!!

  61. AK says

    You would get withdrawal symptoms from stopping cocaine, it doesn’t mean your body needs it. see your flawed logic? sugar is bad. period. 2 weeks is low. it took me 3 weeks of withdrawal when i first started. headaches, nausea, ache and all that mess. now i’m sugar free and loving it.

  62. Frank says

    I put pure stevia 100% no fillers in my coffee every morning heading to the gym. If this were at all true i would not be able to put in the effort and build muscle and strentgh. I call bullshit about stevia or back it up with a documented clinical proven study. My body does not rid its glucose because o taste sweet. Muscles would feel that instant.

  63. says

    Thanks for your perspective. It is true that your body needs sugar and we don’t need to fear it or totally avoid it. I do use honey as a sweetener in my oatmeal and enjoy it. I also will eat dessert occasionally. However, since I cut out lots of sugar from my diet, my skin is so much better and free from excema. When I do get sugar cravings, I try to get it from fruit since they contain glucose. So, I guess it’s about moderation too. I really like Stevia too and feel like it has it’s place in my coffee and tea drinks. Again, I only use a little.

  64. Ana BR says

    I understand you have the right to censor comments as the author of the blog, but I am curious why my comment was deleted. In it, I asked for more references besides that one book which, as I understand, is not even available any more. Also, there is a plethora of evidence out there about the TOXICITY of sugar FOR ALL people, not just diabetics. It is important to remind your readers that CANCER IS LOCATED in the body by giving patients a SUGARY DRINK as CANCER FEEDS OFF SUGAR. It would be excellent if this blog could become a forum where people exchange ideas and results of research on various dietary approaches. I am open to learning more about scientific evidence on the benefits of sugar, but have failed to find any references here (besides, like I said, that one no-longer-available book).

  65. ellen says

    Having been paleo for a couple of years now, I recently realized that candida had become a problem. I went through a sugar detox, deleting most every form of overt sugar from my diet and including higher doses of probiotics. The die off was extreme and I became ill with diarrhea for 2 weeks. I’ve added back rational amounts of fruit and lowered the probiotics. I’m decidedly better than I was before. Just did it the hard way. I simply don’t understand the penchant for juicing foods. Fruit juice is only half the picture and everything taken out is necessary. While I do eat small amounts of dried fruit, I don’t think they’re the same as only the water has been dehydrated out and that is easily replaced. The fiber remains, slowing down the absorption of the sugars. This is basic stuff. Some fruit is good. Some starch is good. The balance is important and everyone needs to find that balance for themselves. I don’t advise anyone to do what I did. I won’t do it again either. I’m glad the result has been positive, but I think I was lucky.

  66. Miroslava says

    Find this hard to believe. Please check Dr. Weston Price work, and his book ‘ Nutrition and physical degeneration” – there were plenty of people all over the world that naturally had no sugar in their diet, and they were healthier than anyone of us these days.

  67. Carole says

    It’s threads like this that make me just throw up my hands and give up! One person says it’s good, another person says it’s bad, someone cites this study, another one cites that study… AAARRRGGGHHH!!! Who do I believe? And how do I adjust my diet to lose weight, have abundant energy, and be healthy? Sometimes I think it’s just not worth all the hassle. Bleh!

    • says

      Carole – I understand exactly how you feel and couldn’t agree more. I have spent many hours researching the pros and cons of many “debatable” foods and have come to the conclusion that there is no one size fits all. “One man’s meat is another man’s poison” is such a true statement

      However I am concerned about articles such as this one that seem to be stating “the truth” and have very little evidence to back them up. As many have said there is a plethora of evidence about the effects of insulin on cancer tumours and indeed insulin is the main reason so many find it difficult to get rid of stubborn fat.

      At the end of the day we are all responsible for making up our own minds about what foods are best for us. Some people are able to listen to their bodies and make intelligent decisions about their food choices. Unfortunately the vast majority aren’t able to do this due mainly to a lack of knowledge, and they will eat whatever they see on the supermarket shelves. They also read articles such as this one and use it as a reason for eating sugary foods (even though the article doesn’t say that) – the title gives permission to “treat sugar as your friend” which to many will mean its ok to eat it.

      • says

        I agree that there is no one right way of eating for everyone.

        And I agree that the title is probably great for grabbing attention but a bit misleading.

        In general, I have to disagree with many things in this article. Although I do love reading views that challenge what is considered standard nutritional dogma!

        First of all, this article is more of an op-ed than anything else, which is fine but lets read it as it is. There is no real scientific evidence backing this stuff up.

        But that aside, I think it is important to address people individually. For some people just eating fruit and honey as opposed to any refined sugars may cause a huge improvement in their health. But people with insulin resistance and obesity really cannot afford to eat any significant amounts of sugar/sweeteners of any kind.

        Although I too am not a fan of consuming stevia or Xylitol the description of how the body reacts to those foods seems a little fantastical. Where does this info come from? I would love to see the biochemistry text that describes this process. Please share.

        In addition, it is completely doable to eat a low-carb diet and still consume 1-2 servings of fruit and ample (10-15 servings) veggies every day. Honey or maple syrup may be an occasional treat but can’t be done every day on low-carb. When low-carb is done right (ie: with high fat, moderate protein, and majority of carbs come from veggies, low-carb fruit, and nuts and seeds) then there is enough gluocose going on to avoid adrenal/thyroid issues but to still keep insulin low.

        On a personal note; I do not do well on sweeteners. I do better with 1 serving/day of low-carb fruit, lots of veggies and NO sweet foods. And I believe that if people could get the idea of DAILY consumption of sweets out of their habits they would see lots of improvement. Then maybe once per week or less eat a treat and enjoy it.

  68. Sam says

    This is a really interesting article, no doubt a topic I’ll be looking into more when I get my masters in nutrition. I think it’s important for everyone to realize that not all our bodies work exactly the same and where we are can make an impact. For example, when I was in Thailand I met a girl from Canada who had been severely limiting her sugar intake due to candida. She said she usually could not handle much fruit but in Thailand, perhaps because of the heat, she could. I tend not have much sugar in my diet and I am sensitive to hypoglycemia but in Thailand I felt like I needed to eat more fruit between meals to keep my energy levels up as I just keep, especially because I sweat so much.

  69. Christine says

    There is a great new book on the sugar debate, “Don’t Quit Sugar” by Cassie Platt, a qualified Australian nutritionist. It also recipes and lots of references for people who want to follow up various ideas. Highly recommended.

  70. Dana says

    Hi Lauren; my doctor is into holistic healing, however, she told me she would rather I used Stevia vs Agave nectar. I am working towards 100% Paleo; being about 75% now. I had a hard time getting used to Stevia, now I read your article that stevia is really not good. What are your thoughts on Agave? I like it and sucanat as well as raw honey.

    • says

      I stay far, far away from agave nectar. I will discuss it in an upcoming blog post, but in short it contains isolated fructose, which is very different than the fructose in fruits and honey. Isolated fructose is very problematic. I believe stevia is better than agave, but raw honey and pure maple syrup are my top picks.

  71. Susan says

    Lauren: I am obviously late to the band wagon, but just discovered your site a few days ago and I am very impressed. I truly hate that you suffer from a disease that led you to all this but WOW! I am almost 48 years old and certainly not a scientist either but all my life I have been inspired by the natural! God gave us exactly what we need in life, but man has messed it up. All my life, I have eaten margarine because I didn’t know any better until recently! I love butter and everything I have read on your page makes perfect sense. I am vowing to take it one step at a time to eat naturally from now on despite what everyone around me says because I want to see for myself. I am beginning with honey and fruit instead of refined sugar and I read your post on salts this morning (I love salt!) I am onboard!! Keep it coming!!

  72. Jennifer says

    You said in the article that adding winter squashes back into your diet made you feel better, so do you think that it is okay to eat squash and also potatoes or sweet potatoes while trying to get rid of candida? Or is only squash okay and you should keep out the potatoes? I’m trying to heal my gut and get rid of candida.

  73. Hope says

    Hi Lauren,

    I can NOT tell you how this post is going to literally save me (and my husband/family) I came across it last night when i googled “How long to cure candida”…. I have been on diflucan for a week and I have cut out ALL starchy veggies AND ALL fruits…. it’s only been 1 week and I have experienced everything that you did on week 2 b/c I thought i was doing it RIGHT. I woke up and had an apple. I thank you so much for writing this and doing your research and sharing your experience. THANK YOU!!!!

    So, what should i expect now? I’m following strict AIP and I have hashi’s and also leaky gut and a host of food sensitivies. I also have a yeast overgrowth and thought I needed to kill that first, but, it sounds as if I need to eat to heal my gut, and take natural antifungals (like garlic and caprylic acid and lauricidin) and then it should all just heal up together? is that what happened for you? (I know you aren’t a dr… just have such limited places to go and ask) I really appreciate you. thank you! (i’ve been AIP since Sept 30… minor hiccups (no gluten/grains) and back strong for 8 days now)

  74. Rachael says

    I have tried many things from ketogenic diets to using dried fruits and honey as sweeteners. One makes me crave sugar and carbs constantly and the other makes me eat the entire batch of whatever “naturally” sweetened food I have just made. Either way I feel terrible physically and emotionally. What seems to work best for me is to count carbs so I can be aware of how much sugar and starch I am eating while I try to recalibrate my natural desire for it as well as heal my gut. Eliminating dairy has also been a huge help to reduce cravings.

  75. Vicki says

    I would like your opinion on Suzanne Sommers sugar. It is made from chickory root. I use it to reduce my sugar intake.

  76. Lindsey says

    I also learned this the hard way! Luckily I have since come to the same conclusion as you have. Only quality sugars for me! I can’t believe I fell for the whole super low carb thing. What a big mistake! I wish others in Paleo would realize the same!

  77. Kathy says

    I would LOVE to incorporate some sugar into my diet. Since discovering my candida and leaky gut issues are what caused my body to become sensitive to a lot of foods, I eliminated all fruit and sugars from my die many years ago. Every time I try to eat fruit, even berries or green apples, my head gets very foggy and I feel lethargic the next day. Honey and maple syrup affects me like regular sugar; I feel like I have been drugged and I am exhausted for several days later, usually ending in a cold. So I would love it if my body needed sugar, but it obviously does not!

  78. says

    Hello Lauren,

    I came across your site whilst searching for Stevia and it’s negative side. I found the info really great for further research. I take it that having products that use Stevia for a sweetener is not going to make a difference if the person has not completely restricted their sugar intake?

    What prompted me more to post a comment here is that I disagree with your statement that we all need sugar. Many people follow Nutritional Ketosis with much success and many more are switching to this style of eating. The body does not need sugar as the alternative is Ketones and MCT.

    The people that have blogged here and agreed that not having sugar is bad, as they tried a low sugar diet and suffered severe fatique, (you mentioned this yourself) simply have not given the body enough time to transist into Keto adaption. This could take from three weeks to three months and there are many other factors that can prevent one from Keto adaption. So I can only urge you to advise people on the facts, (the same for me in researching Stevia).

    For a good understanding of Nutritional Ketosis and proof that it works, I recommend people check out Dr. Peter Attia and also Stephanie Person. Stephanie has her own website and blog plus over 240 videos on the subject.

    My own website is linked to a relatively new product to the market, although proven since 1930″s. and no matter what eating habit, supplement regime, medication etc., that people follow, this product is necessary for every person on the planet, regardless.

    Thank you for your time.

    Ken.
    New Plymouth NZ

    • says

      I agree with you!

      I am practicing nutritional ketosis on and off, and the transition period is hell. Absolutely hell! But after a shoe your body learns how to run on fat instead of glucose and your energy goes through the roof!

  79. jenna says

    I am still confused. I have read several of your articles. I just recently realized I have candida and it is systematic. I have a large bump sore red growth under my arm that my doctor has deemed a staff infection….it started as a pimple (near the outside of my armpit) and increased from there into the monstrosity it is now. I went on an extreme candida diet on Thursday (April 24th….so I am on day three) where I cut any and all forms of sugar. I am drinking (choking down) two glasses of vegetable (just vegetable) juice everyday (kale, celery, cucumber, garlic, tomatoes,lemon), eggs with onion and zucchini, chicken, artichokes, avocados coconut oil and unsweetened shredded coconut (I actually bought a real coconut), walnuts, sunflower seeds (all nuts are raw) and I favor things with lemon juice. Surprisingly I am doing fine, I feel like I can go on longer actually. While I miss any form of sweet I know its for the greater good of my health and I think it’s curbing carvings. However after reading some of your posts about sugar I am scared I could be doing more harm then good =( I went extreme because I believe my Candida is extreme for me to be getting staff infections on the outside of my body for no reason.

    Last night little sore white and red bumps are on the edges and under my tongue. The look a lot like little pimples. My theory was the candida is being flushed from my system and coming out. However the sore under my arm has gotten a lot less sore (more and more less sore everyday since I started my ACD) which I contributed to my diet. But after reading your posts about how we need sugar I am concerned how I should be eating. I think I should stick extreme for a little while to get it all gone….what do you think?

    Also I can’t find a post that says what you can and cant eat on your diet….can you break that down for me?

  80. Wanda says

    I’m one of the confused too and use xylitol, have Hashimotos, and no gall bladder.

    I’ve been following the Wheat Belly Regime for 18 months and have lost 18 k , not that great. I went through a long period of sitting on a plateau and the one thing that I tried to break it was adding some sugar to my diet. it worked. I have no idea why but it did.

  81. Batman says

    Don’t believe this nonsense people. Eliminate all sugars from your diet and you will become healthier, live longer, and have more daily energy.

    To state that sugar increases metabolism is a joke. Once your body detects that sugar has been consumed, the pancreas releases insulin, which in turn, shuts down the process which “burns” fat. This can last for several hours at a time.

    So, the next time you consume any type of sugar, be certain that for the next several hours your body is not using fat stores for energy. Do this several times and day and that fat on your body that you so badly want gone, isn’t going anywhere.

  82. migg says

    What about dried fruit??? I have candida issues and the first time i ate sweets in a while (raw milk and raw honey together that i bought from a farm) i got a headache right after. Aslo, when i eat raw honey by itself my stomach tingles. Should i continue?

  83. Jessica says

    Hello Lauren, I really like reading your blog. I just have a few questions. I heard that sugar is sugar and that your body processes natural sugar the same as refined.sugar. I heard that your body doesn’t recognize the difference. I didn’t want to believe that. How does your body process natural sugar differently from refined? How does your body recognize the difference? I also read that coconut sugar was high in fructose and that it is made up of 70% to 80% sucrose, which is half fructose. Is this true?

  84. says

    Hi,
    I am on a cyclical ketogenic diet for about half a year now and I’m still open minded because I can feel changes in my metabolism. I have several autoimmune conditions which is why I tried out several diets. Instead of telling you my life story I post here in order to ask for more links to scientific studies in order to back up your posts… best regards, Daniel

  85. says

    I must admit things are really confusing at times. I have been on the RAW food diet, Gluten Free & GAPS/SCD, & Paleo diets over the course of 4 years. GAPS/ SCD for about a year and Paleo about 1 1/2 years. But I still had problems. I know my digestive system is slow. But it wasn’t until I removed the honey and fruit that the neck stiffness went away that was caused by inflammation due to Candida Overgrowth. Mine has already gone systemic (detectable in my blood). I am 4 months into the Anti-Candida diet. I still use probiotics, eat bone broth and probiotic foods. But, no more starchy veggies and I added buckwheat groats to make crackers with chia seeds and coconut flour. Still struggling some days…wish it wasn’t this hard to heal. I’ve been on the healing road for a long time. My brain fog began over 10 years ago! But I must say that I’m better than I was. After all, I’m 44 years old and it will probably just take a little longer than it does for those “younger” folk. Thanks for your information.

  86. Malsprower says

    Hey Lauren

    Thank you for the great post, I have a good friend that I am close to that told me that I should go on the candida diet for 2 years to help me with healing my gut. I take her words very seriously but I have ended up in the hospital from the raw food diet in the past. I am on the paleo diet right now which has been working well but I have fibromyalgia and psoriasis that I battle. My friend suggested that I have candida and should try this diet: http://www.healingnaturallybybee.com/articles/foodslist.php Is this a healthy diet or will it cause me to have problems?

  87. Mike says

    What’s killing us essentially is ‘Carbohydrate Overkill’ not high fat, high calories or even high sugar. Stop eating man made, processed, refined foods. Eat what nature provided us with. Half the worlds diseases, illnesses and health issues would disappear within a month.

    Stop letting manufacturers of food dictate what you eat and let nature dictate.

  88. Sherrie Saadeh says

    Hi! Great article and makes sense. I have been suffering from severe candida issues most of my adult life. I have cleaned up my diet very well but still have the candida issues. The last frontier! I spend part of my year in the Jordan where we have a plethora of fresh dates from all over the region. From dates, date syrup is made and jarred or canned. i am wondering if this is not also a great white sugar substitute? It is pure syrup from the date. Also wondering if palm sugar is also acceptable. Our health group in Jordan would be very appreciate of your thoughts! Another taste treat we have here is Pomegranate Syrup. It is used for salads and sauces. Sweet but with a bitter kick! I would assume as long as these are pure, unadulterated sweeteners they would be ok. Your thoughts?!

  89. Emily says

    Thanks for your post! I have had UC for 10 years… the last 5 years I have been in remission through the SCD diet but a few months ago started having a pretty bad flare out of the blue for the first time on the diet. I started very strict GAPS intro and have not been responding like I had hoped. I am also battling low energy… do you think the GAPS intro can still be effective for helping UC even with having the starch vegetables, baked fruits and plenty of honey? It seems GAPS wants you to be on the intro for a long time before adding these things in, but I just feel like it may be dangerous as you are all pointing out… Should I just keep doing the GAPS intro as described in the book but with more honey and baked fruit and winter squashes? Thanks so much! I’m feeling a bit lost in this all…

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