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  • Q&A with Australian Health Practitioners

    What benefits are there to quitting sugar?

    I am thinking of doing the eight week I quit sugar diet which eliminates all fruit, sugar and honey from the diet for 8 weeks.

    what are your thoughts about this diet challenge.

    can sugar cause a lot of the health issues that are happening in the world
  • Find a professional to answer your question

  • 4

    Thanks

    Dr Carolyn Ee

    Acupuncturist, GP (General Practitioner)

    I'm a Sydney GP with a special interest in women's health especially menopause and TTC ( trying to conceive). I specialise in acupuncture, and am … View Profile

    Hi, I am not an expert on these issues, but here is what I know from my reading so far. Fructose, a component of sugar, is becoming a target as a health risk because it is thought to raise insulin levels and hence increase risk of obesity and diabetes. (Fructose is often found as an additive in processed foods that claim to be “sugar free” or “natural” - just read the labels carefully). However, the fructose in fruit is absorbed a bit more slowly because of the fiber content of fruit, and is considered less harmful overall than eating pure fructose.

    Table sugar is a highly refined product, with no nutritional value whatsoever apart from providing energy. The “empty calories” mean that there is a case of undernourished but overweight people who eat lots of sugar.

    Sugar is a high glycemic index food, meaning that it is absorbed quickly into the bloodstream, triggering release of insulin to lower the blood sugar level. This then results in a sugar “slump” and hence the craving for more sugar in a couple of hours. Over time, this pattern results in an extremely common condition called insulin resistance, where muscles become insensitive to the signals that insulin is sending out, and hence are much less effective in “drinking up sugar” from the bloodstream. Ultimately this can lead to diabetes, and all its complications (heart disease, blindness, strokes, kidney failure etc). Sugar in the bloodstream is toxic in that it sticks to blood vessels and causes damage to them - leading to the complications I just described.

    I think cutting out sugar and fructose is a reasonable dietary change, providing you are not compensating by using artificial sweeteners, and are ensuring that you are having plenty of unprocessed foods with a balance of complex carbohydrates, protein and healthy fats. Cutting out sugar is only one part of a healthy diet. Also, do continue beyond 8 weeks - your body will thank you for it. And lastly, don't be too dogmatic about it. Sugar continues to be a big part of our Western diet, and the occasional indulgence will not harm you if the other 90% of your diet is healthy - and indeed, it may help keep you “on the wagon”.

  • 2

    Thanks

    Kirsty Woods

    Exercise Physiologist

    Hi I’m Kirsty Woods,I would like to use my experience, expertise and passion to help you reach your weight, energy and health goalsI have been … View Profile

    Great question,

    You may find this video series of interest - http://www.uctv.tv/skinny-on-obesity/
    http://www.uctv.tv/skinny-on-obesity/

    Many of my clients have had great success reducing fructose, glucose and carbohydrate consumption as you mention above leading to only succesful weight loss but also reduced bloating as well as better energy, sleep, skin and overall well being. 

    I hope this helps!

  • Elizabeth Newsham-West is committed to optimising the health and well-being of people across all ages within the Mount Tamborine community.  She works as a domicillary … View Profile

    I think your focus should not be about eliminating sugar but more about having a more plant based diet with more fresh whole food than food that is packaged. This means you are focused on what you can eat rather than what you can't eat. A much more positive way to proceed and in the process you will automatically reduce foods with added sugars, fats and salt. Sugar sweetened beverages are your worst as they have little nutrients but high in energy. Dietitians encourage people to choose foods that are low or no added sugar, more whole, less processed. This gets away from the misinformation about fruit being bad, which is untrue when eaten in the whole form. Only a minority of Australians have the correct amount of fresh fruit and vegetables each day.

    What  we see when people embark on something like this, is  they look for processed foods which they perceive to be low in sugar which may be just as unhealthy.  

    It is important that while carbohydrate is demonised the average amount of carbohydrate people eat in Australia is only around 45% which isn't that high. So this is a bit of a distraction and we need to concentrate more on the foods we are choosing rather than nutrients - which can become meaningless.

    I do however need to correct some information being posted.

    1. It is very rare for humans to have just pure fructose or fructose in the liquid form in their diet. Most fructose comes from sugar which is 50% glucose and 50% fructose. Even honey isn't pure fructose.
    2. Fructose does not mediate the secretion of insulin. Insulin is secreted in response to glucose levels in the blood.
    3. Insulin resistance (IR) is not cause by fructose or sugar but a multi factorial problem related to genetics, medication, central obesity, obesity and lifestyle choices. While fructose has been shown in the lab to cause IR with rats at levels of fructose humans do not usually consume, often in the pure form, in a hypercalorie state. Care should be taken when interpreting these result. As human studies often contradict animal models. European Journal of Clinical Nutrition (2014) 68, 416–423;
    4. Sugar is not a high GI food but a moderate GI food.
    5. Sugar or fructose do not cause diabetes or IR. Diabetes starts with IR which is multi factorial.

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