A streamlined stack of supplements designed to meet your most critical needs - Adapt Naturals is now live. Learn more

Is Refined Sugar Really Toxic?


Last updated on

refined sugar, refined white sugar
Is refined white sugar really as toxic as we've been led to believe? istock.com/YelenaYemchuk

So far in this series, I’ve covered a variety of ‘alternative’ sweeteners: natural sweeteners like honey and stevia; artificial sweeteners like aspartame; and sugar alcohols like xylitol.

But what about plain old white sugar? And what about the increasingly common industrial sweetener, high fructose corn syrup? These two get a pretty bad rap, even from mainstream media, and although much of their reputation is deserved, there are some misconceptions that I’d like to straighten out.

The sweet (and not so sweet) truth about refined sugar.

The Evidence

Most of you are probably aware that excess refined sugar isn’t great for your health. Sugar and HFCS are particularly detrimental when consumed in liquid form, because we don’t tend to compensate for calories we drink by reducing our calorie consumption elsewhere. (1) This can lead to weight gain from overeating, along with elevated triglycerides, insulin resistance, and other indicators of metabolic syndrome.

Refined sugar has also been implicated in reduced immune system efficiency. (2, 3) In one study, immune cells demonstrated a significantly reduced capacity to kill pathogens (e.g. viruses, bacteria) following sugar consumption (from sucrose, glucose, fructose, honey, or orange juice) when compared with fasting levels; starches didn’t have this effect. Unfortunately, this study was quite small and I haven’t found further evidence to corroborate or refute these results. I believe it’s a good idea to avoid sugar when your immune system is compromised.

Refined sugar is also thought to promote cancer growth by ‘feeding’ the cancer. While it’s true that cancer feeds on sugar, it actually feeds on the glucose in your blood; not necessarily the sugar you eat. (4) While those two factors are obviously linked, it’s more important to be aware of your own blood sugar control, and don’t consume more sugar (or carbs in general) than you can effectively metabolize. After all, you will always have glucose in your blood as long as you’re alive, so the goal is to avoid having high blood glucose over a prolonged period of time, not to eliminate glucose entirely.

But while there’s plenty of evidence that excess sugar or HFCS can be harmful to health, there’s  actually no evidence that small amounts of refined sugar in the context of a nutrient-dense, whole foods diet (and active lifestyle) is harmful. The problem is that limiting yourself to small amounts of sugar is often easier said than done.

Is Sugar Addictive?

Addictive properties of sugar have been observed in rat models where food is restricted for 12 hours, encouraging a binge-like pattern of consumption. (5) These rats experience dopamine and opiod release that resembles the neurological response to substances of abuse, although significantly smaller in magnitude. Additionally, these rats experience opiate-like withdrawal symptoms after being given an opiate-blocker, or after a period of fasting.

Most human studies, however, have not reproduced these findings in rodents. (6, 7) (As always, it’s worth noting that the second reference was partially funded by the World Sugar Research Organization.) At least one small study which interviewed obese individuals did find that, based on self-reported symptoms, some obese patients fit the profile for sugar addiction, particularly those who also suffer from binge eating disorder (BED). (8) But as of yet, there’s little to no rigorous evidence that sugar is chemically addictive in humans.

However, some evidence does indicate that sugar can interfere with the normal hormone signaling from ghrelin and leptin, both of which help control appetite and satiety. (9) So although this isn’t an ‘addiction’ mechanism, it’s another way in which sugar can encourage overconsumption in susceptible individuals.

Whether sugar is addictive or not, from a practical standpoint, it’s often easy to eat more sugar than you mean to. Certain people are going to be far more sensitive to these effects than others, so it’s really a matter of being familiar with your own eating behavior when it comes to potentially addictive foods.

Like what you’re reading? Get my free newsletter, recipes, eBooks, product recommendations, and more!

Is High Fructose Corn Syrup Really Worse Than White Sugar?

So far, I’ve been talking about white sugar and high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) somewhat interchangeably. But HFCS is without a doubt the more vilified of the two, both in the natural health community and in mainstream media. Foods and beverages sweetened with “real sugar” instead of HFCS are seen by many as ‘healthier’ and more ‘natural,’ and even big soft drink companies like Pepsi are trying to cater to the ‘natural’ crowd by offering “made with real sugar” sodas. If HFCS can make sugar look like a health food by comparison, it must be pretty terrible for you, right?

Well, first, let’s talk chemical composition. White sugar, or ‘table sugar,’ is simply sucrose, a disaccharide composed of one glucose molecule and one fructose molecule bonded to each other. This means that table sugar is always 50% glucose and 50% fructose.

Contrary to popular belief, HFCS has about the same amount of fructose as white sugar. It’s also the same level of sweetness. (10) The two most common forms of HFCS in our food supply are HFCS-42, which is 42% fructose, and HFCS-55, which is 55% fructose. This is certainly “high fructose” compared to regular corn syrup, which has no fructose, but most people hear “high fructose” and think ‘mostly fructose,’ which is definitely not the case.

The main difference is that the fructose and glucose in HFCS exist primarily in their free monosaccharide form, instead of as the disaccharide sucrose as in table sugar. And given the similarities between the two sweeteners, it should come as no surprise that HFCS does not have significantly different metabolic effects from sugar. (11, 12)

I know many of you are also concerned about GMOs in HFCS. Genetically modified varieties of both sugarbeets and corn are grown and consumed in the US, with corn much more widely so. (13) Overall I’d say you’re probably better off with table sugar rather than HFCS from a GMO perspective, because it’s produced from crops that are less commonly GMO. It’s also pretty easy to find organic, non-GMO sugar.

So, How “Toxic” Are Sugar and HFCS?

White sugar and HFCS are not “toxins” in the sense that even small amounts are highly undesirable and potentially harmful. Excess refined sugar can have undesirable health effects, but its addictive power is not comparable to a drug, and HFCS isn’t that much different from table sugar. Some people may be highly sensitive to even small amounts of sugar, often due to severe gut dysbiosis, and in this case they’re justified in avoiding it vigilantly.

But barring extreme sensitivity, there’s no evidence to indicate that refined sugar (or HFCS) is actually toxic in moderate amounts, and most people would be better off avoiding the stress that comes from being unnecessarily fearful of any food that has even a trace amount of refined sugar in it.

I’d even go as far to say that intentionally consuming sugar on occasion shouldn’t be a problem for most people. If every now and then you decide to indulge in a piece of dark chocolate or have a scoop of real ice cream made with refined sugar, you shouldn’t mentally and emotionally beat yourself up or force yourself into a week-long “detox” to make up for your dietary transgression. The stress that comes along with excessive food restrictions can be much more harmful than having a bit of refined sugar here and there.

Sugar is neither a toxin nor a replacement for real food. Ultimately, small amounts of sugar can fit into a whole foods, nutrient-dense, healthy diet, as long as you recognize it for what it truly is: a treat.

ADAPT Naturals logo

Better supplementation. Fewer supplements.

Close the nutrient gap to feel and perform your best. 

A daily stack of supplements designed to meet your most critical needs.

Chris Kresser in kitchen
Affiliate Disclosure
This website contains affiliate links, which means Chris may receive a percentage of any product or service you purchase using the links in the articles or advertisements. You will pay the same price for all products and services, and your purchase helps support Chris‘s ongoing research and work. Thanks for your support!


Join the conversation

  1. I did grown up in a coffee farm were we made our own raw/brown sugar simply by cooking the sugar cane juice that is very delicious.
    The brown sugar is made from this simple cooking method without any other chemical.
    I evidently, to reduce my glycemic index, have reduced its consumption as other not so good delicious but harmful foods.
    Sugar is not addictive. I reduced its consumption but still use it a little bit on my espresso because I like the taste simply.
    Moderation is the success as described by the good written article.

  2. What about unrefined sugar, such as panela or raspadura (Latin America), piloncillo (Mexico), jaggery (India) or sugar cane juice squeezed right from the cane? I know one must be careful with any source of sugar, but this type contains tons of minerals and vitamins, which, it seems, would help in moderation. Thank you for such informative articles and for your extra input on this subject.

  3. Personally I don’t find the sugar-toxic-or-not debate very useful. It’s rather like the tip of the iceberg. I’ve been essentially Paleo in my nutritional practice for over three years and now ketogenic for nearly one. I allow myself small amounts of easy carbohydrate treats occasionally because. as you point out, obsession is damaging. Just encountered Perlmutter’s “Grain Brain” and found it compelling to say the least. I recommend it for anyone “on the fence” about fats vs carbohydrates in their diet. 65 and Loving it.

  4. While I don’t consider table sugar to be a toxin and I try to limit its intake, I don’t get all stressed out from eating an occasional Snickers bar nor when I have that Coke on a hot day.

    I do consider table sugar to be “empty” calories…..like alcohol. As far as I’m concerned, neither does your body any good, they’re not needed to be healthy so why eat/drink ’em.

  5. The evidence against sugar seems very weak.. Sucrose is hardly toxic at all. The LD50 of sucrose is 29,700 mg/kg. So a 150lb person would have to consume over 4lbs of sucrose for a lethal dose.

    I’m pretty sure if you’re metabolically healthy you can consume sucrose without issues. Consuming sucrose does not cause blood sugar issues in healthy people, it has a GI of 58, much lower than that of a baked potato.

    I don’t think you shouldn’t go out of your way to avoid sugar as long as you’re getting sufficient nutrients elsewhere and you’re maintaining a healthy weight by avoiding caloric excess.

    Personally, I consume plenty of sugars in the form of orange juice, added sugar to coffee, fruits, and milk sugars and my triglycerides were at a whopping 67.

    • dose makes the poison. not only GI but the glycemic load is also important. baked potato is not addictive. sugar is. I don’t usually crave baked potato but I do recognize that someone else might. baked potato is full of starch. no problems with starches as the article says. orange juice I would not touch with a six foot pole, and would not recommend it. unless you squeeze fresh oranges for juice yourself. trying to excuse sugar consumption usually just means that either an individual has not enough knowledge about the deleterious effects of sugar or he does not have the willpower to quit consuming it. Gary Taubes’s Why We Get Fat And What To Do About It says it pretty much all, so no need to look any further.

    • The evidence “seems very weak” to you, and I hope you are grateful that you aren’t plagued by the problem.
      I was, and I am wildly grateful to have stopped eating all added sugar, grain, dairy, and salt 14 months ago.
      I’ve lost 80 pounds and all of my medical scores are now well within normal limits.
      I ate sugar at two weddings a month ago, and experienced no symptoms of my former binge-crave-binge issues getting back to business after having done so.
      I am happily convinced that my vision of Paleo eating has given me a new life, and Chris’ book helps me refine my new found beliefs.
      Sugar? I can be happier without it!

    • I think the main problem with the overload of fructose in the diet is the “hidden” sugars in all the processed food. That, on top of what is knowingly ingested as sweet treats, can all add up to an overload.

  6. I think Robert Lustig expands on the chronic toxic effect of refined sugar overload well as opposed to an acute toxic effect.

    How do I use sugar? Sparingly. However, I think timing and dosage is key. After resistance training, I use small amounts of sugar to spike my insulin and aid in protein synthesis. This is done in conjunction with protein and rarely, some carbs.

    I would agree that the psychological stress of worrying and compensating for small amounts of sugar outweighs the harm that the sugar does, so when one has a little treat, whatever. Nonetheless, I would hypothesize that most people suffer from gut disbyiosis and their long-term intestinal permiabity has set them up for a plethora of health concerns. Reducing sugar and perhaps completely eliminating it for awhile could be highly beneficial in healing the gut and putting them back on track.

    Why dabble around with refined sugar that usually goes hand-in-hand with preservatives and other chemicals when you can eat fruit that would provide the sweetness and the antioxidants in the same package?

    That’s my two packets of stevia, which would be way too sweet.

    Keep doing what you do, Chris. A balanced, logical approach to health stands out in the noise of today’s world. Thanks.

  7. I avoid sugar in my daily food prep and do not drink any soft drinks. The main problem with high sugar laden foods is that almost all of these also contain refined flower, and highly processed ‘”industrial” oils and preservatives and colorants and not much else. Best example is the fares offered in coffee shops and bakeries. I avoid all that. I only eat such stuff if somebody offers that in their home or at birthdays or christmas.

    • I agree, if you make all your own food at least you know what’s in it and can make sure the ingredients are healthy and as unprocessed as possible. Personally, I try not to eat any pre-prepared food that comes in a packet.

  8. I think food cravings are often triggered by nutritional deficiency or stress rather than out and out sugar addiction.

    I have wonky iron levels – have had for a while – and when things are bad then my cravings go through the roof.

    I’ve noticed a very similar reaction when I’m chronically stressed by something – which of course I try not to be.

    It would all be too easy to blame sugar for these cravings especially if I was always stressed and unhappy (I’m not).

    • I totally agree with you, Polly. And with Christina.

      I used to have a lot of cravings. Sugar and sweet products mainly. I was always low on iron (followed a vegetarian diet for more than 10 years). I felt always tired. My physical performance was getting worse (I was also a jogger). Had some life problems and was experimenting a depression. Even had a candida gut infection that was impossible to cure.
      Y was just 34 y.o.

      I switched to a paleo diet, to a paleo exercising program (no more jogging at the same pace) and to IF . Avoided all sugar and breads. Had more salt and a lot of organic meat and eggs.

      Results: No more cravings (my iron levels are now perfect), no more candida (took me a year to cure it completely), good mood, good sleep, a lot of energy. My mean weight has always the same, but now I never have to compensate for excesses, as I now eat when I am hungry. I have understood that my appetite regulators were broken, because I was always struggling with cravings. Now I never have them.

      Sugar and the lack of meat (protein and salt, I imagine) was doing me a lot of harm.

  9. Totally agree with you! Thanks, Chris! Question: we do not do much baking in our house, but maybe once a month I’ll do some type of grain-free muffin or banana bread or something. Seeing as these are already ‘treats’, would you (do you) go to the trouble and expense of using something less refined like coconut sugar or just use the white stuff and don’t bake very often? 🙂

    • I am wary of coconut sugar as I have heard it is a problem as an environmental issue as the production of the sugar destroys the whole tree, whereas other coconut products such as the cream, milk and meat come from the coconut fruit and is therefore sustainable. I believe coconut sugar is similar to white sugar as far as fructose levels go.

  10. I think of sugar as kind of benign compared to gluten and anti-nutrients, for example. I use it more like an occasional “spice” on some dishes, and on fruits and cream, or yams for desserts, where it doesn’t have to be a main component. They’re at least going to be a whole lot healthier than store-bought donuts and ice cream. I think raw sugar is better (maybe more paleo?) than white, considering the chemical processes white sugar goes through.

    I used to think I was “addicted” to sugar, but I think it’s more of an emotional attachment. I realize that I can have some and not need to binge on it, and that I can go for long stretches without thinking about it.

    • Raw sugar is worse than white. Simply more dirty. Check out John Yudkin’s Pure, White and Deadly for details.

      • Actually on the bottom of page 27 in Pure, White and Deadly the author concedes that given a choice, he recommends eating “brown” sugar provided it is made from a pure raw sugar. So, I think you may be confused about his preference? The whole point of this book is to educate people about the outdated misconception of brown sugar being “dirtier” than white.

        • I think if you are not worried about having a little sugar, then try and find one that is unprocessed as possible (ie; has not had the molasses removed and then re-added later as is the case with most raw sugars on the shelf), it tastes better than white sugar too.
          I think avoiding as much unprocessed foods as possible is the way to go.
          In regard to coconut sugar, I am wary of this. Not so much from a health perspective but an environmental one. I’m am not sure about this, but I have heard that production of coconut sugar destroys the whole tree, where as other coconut products such as milk, cream and meat all come from the actual coconut fruit, thus being a sustainable source.

          • I think raw sugar is the least processed. Brown sugar is basically white sugar with molasses added back in.

  11. I personally do indulge every once in a while with a cake (gluten/dairy free still) and have to say during one week I eat about 1 bar of 70%-90% Lindts dark chocolate a square at a time… It is rich enough that 1 square feels indulgent and does not leave me wanting more.

    I find the article interesting. I have my coffee black but I do have about 1/2 tsp of brown sugar with my tea once a day… so my question is, where does brown sugar fit in this picture?

  12. If cancer feeds on blood glucose. Is it better to follow a more ketogenic type diet where you burn fat for fuel instead of glucose or are the 2 not related in regard to cancer.

    • Eliana: cancer DOES use glucose as fuel, but the link between blood glucose levels and cancer isn’t terribly strong (even in those with diabetes, whose blood glucose levels are far higher than the average “healthy” human being, though there are certain “diabetese-related” cancers). Even if you were to follow a ketogenic diet, your blood glucose levels would still remain in a tight window; your body would break down glycogen stores to release glucose into the blood stream, and your liver would synthesize glucose as well in order to maintain homeostasis. I wouldn’t be concerned.

      • Ok that makes sense. But I still I wonder about the fact that low carb diets DO seem to cause lower hba1c thus lower avg. blood glucose. Isn’t it possible that that still makes a difference for cancer? Also isn’t it possible that up regulating the mitochondria’s ability to burn fat also makes a difference? Ie the balance gets swung?

  13. the only sugar I use is in BBQ rubs and sometimes making pepper jelly used to season hot wings.

  14. Just a note that most refined white sugar is made from sugar beets which are now mostly GMO. So if you do use refined white sugar, make sure you get pure cane sugar if you want to avoid GMOs.

  15. So from a fructose intolerance perspective is refined sugar just as bad as HFCS? And how bad is that in comparison to other natural sources of fructose?

  16. I think sugar is highly addictive and promotes overeating. I really don’t care what scientific experiments say. Sugar from fruit seems to have a similar effect on me. I feel I need to restrict them to. Not ban them, but restrict them. Also: sugar is obiquitous in processed foods. Why: 1) it enhances taste or it disguises the poor quality of the product, 2) it promotes overeating. I agree that if you eat a healthy diet 95% of the time, enjoying a treat made with regular sugar will probably not kill you, but from my own experience — having struggled with moderate obesity all my life — the addiction can return very quickly. And a treat once a week turns quickly into two and more and you’ll end up craving sugar every day. As much as I appreciate a balanced approach, I would advise everyone who has a sweet tooth and who used to be obese to remain cautious.

  17. Chris, what about Ray Peats views on sugar? It seems that he encourages sugar to be up to even half of your daily caloric intake, provided you get the context right. Ie, eating protein, gelatin etc.

    • I don’t agree with Ray Peat on this, and I don’t think research supports his views. Nor does my clinical experience.

    • What would be the point of ingesting half your daily calories in the form of a nutrient-devoid, edible-but-good-for-nothing-other-than-pleasure stuff? Even simple logic says that you should eat vitamins, minerals and useful macronutrients along with your calories. Ray Peat is a joke.

      • Ray Peat doesn’t recommend to have 50% of your calories from white sugar. He recommends to have 50% of your calories from sugars from fruit, honey or milk. Having 50% of your calories from carbs is quite a normal recommendation, and I think most people here agree that sugars from fruit, honey or milk are much better digested than starches.

        People often forget that 40% of the calories in human milk come from sugars. Lactose is a molecule very similar to sucrose. Sucrose is glucose+frucotse while lactose is glucose+galactose. Galactose and fructose are metabolized in a similar way in the human body.

        • It looks as if not everyone has a metabolic disorder and some can tolerate some sugar and fruit etc. For those that are fat all their lives don’t touch any of it or most grains and carbs as well. Grren veggies have enough carbon to stay healthy . So take my unscientific word for it . If you are fat on a 1200 diet of regular calories then stop all carbs and sugar and don’t wait for proof .Some people are ok with it but look around usa . Most are not.

          • I agree with you, Daliya. From metabolism perspective, chances are sugars do more harm than good. They kick our Insulin skyhigh. Easy access, often binge eating, roller-coaster our metabolism. Indulge ourself once, we’d end up with another on and on. Been there, done that! I was once catagorized as a MetS and been through a couple of yoyos with HIIT, but finally had lost 14 kgs in 3 months (after getting the idea of Paleo Diet/Lifestyle, particularly from the Paleo Solution) and never wanted to go back through that scary seemingly endless weaning period anymore. Some people’d take years to wipe out the chaos. The hell with sweetness, but yeah I like it and do eat those sugars on occasion. Doing so if and only if that’s we have ruled out our MetS. Overweighted? think twice!

        • I don’t know about “most” (that may well be true), but there are definitely people who find fruits, honey, and especially milk (lactose intolerance?!!!) to be much less digestible than starches (glucose). There are people with fructose intolerance, but I have not heard much about anyone with glucose intolerance, in terms of digestibility. I have problems with histamine, and most fruits give me stomach aches, while I can eat white potatoes quite happily. I think the indigestibility of fructose, lactose, and certain fibers or other constituents (histamine-related for example) of fruits for a portion of the population is pretty well established. A diet based on fruits, milk, and honey would leave me sick in bed, and I’m certain many others would agree. In contrast to that, there seems to be a subset of people who positively thrive on a high fruit diet (Denise Minger comes to mind) . . so, there must be some sort of microbiome difference probably, and that’s why there is no 1 diet for everyone.

      • Ray Peat doesn’t recommend you just eat straight table sugar, he recommends foods where the carbohydrate content comes from sugars rather than starches (especially orange juice, milk, fruit and honey). He is also fine with eating refined sugar, in foods like coffee, ice cream and chocolate. He does write about “Fructose therapy” that was used by William Budd and P. A. Piorry, who added a large amount of sugar to the diets of diabetics to keep them from wasting away.

      • Don’t bash something you don’t fully comprehend. Ray Peat eats a lot of sugar, if you want to attack sugar, go for it. But most of that sugar comes from fruits & milk. Ray like Kris states that table sugar wont kill you (like the fear mongers will state), as long as you can handle it. One piece of fruit no matter which fruit, will obliterate say 5 tbls of coconut or olive oil with regards to nutrition … So if getting as many nutrients, vitamins, minerals, etc, as possible is important to you, getting your calories from say fruit or milk is 100 times better than getting your calories from oils which is devoid of much nutrition (other than for purposes in your body which require fatty acids to function). There’s enough fat soluble vitamins in say eggs, liver, or cream, so adding tbls of low nutrient oil to food to meet your caloric needs due to the fact you don’t eat enough fruit or drink milk is an interesting way to look at things. all the best.

        • Well… unless there is a mechanism that I don’t understand, coconut oil is not going to add to my insulin resistance issue and it is a multi-nutrient transporter. :-/

          It also doesn’t feed cancer cells, in fact it may help to kill cancer in a ketogenic diet. On top of all that it seems that it helps altzheimer’s patients.

          So… if worse came to worse and I had to choose between eating a tablespoon of sugar and the caloric equivalent of coconut oil, I’d take the coconut oil.

          • A healthy person will not increase their chances of cancer by eating sugar, key word, healthy. 30 years from now when people who avoided sugar are still getting cancer, maybe then we’ll observe better what is, in fact the root cause of cancer. It only took cholesterol 45 years to clear it’s name, i’m guessing the same will eventually happen with sugar.

            Ketogenic diets seems to be Godsends for many people (probably the ones that needed a glucose reset as no one in prior recorded history ate sugar 365 days a year), but lets not turn a blind eye to all the people that its causing issues for. Admitting it’s not the perfect approach for everyone will not take away from the fact that it has helped so many. The same is true for sugar (mainly milk & fruit imo). Nor will it tarnish the reputation of Chris, or anyone else in the nutrition world that speaks of its many benefits. There’s no such thing as a blanket protocol, we are not all the same robot.

            We all know in the nutrition world there are many fanatics within all the diets, don’t confuse what a particular Peat follower does, with the writing of Dr.Peat. Dr.Peat prefers eating his energy in the form of sugars from fruit & dairy b/c they are nutrient rich, and he processes glucose,fructose, & lactose properly. If you are one of the many who also burn sugar well, this will no doubt be a better option than trying to burn fat for calories … and vice versa with regards to people who are better at burning fat for fuel.

            Sugar, like protein & fat, are all crucial, and it would be wise to be mindful of that when thinking long term. Once someone can start showing me many centurians that have been ketogenic their whole lives, then you’ll have my attention. Until then, anyone’s who’s doing long term ketogenesis is merely a science experiment.

    • You make it sound like Peat advises everyone to eat half their calories from white sugar, when in reality he probably would encourage most to get their sugar from whole fruits and milk.

      • I hope Peat strongly recommends raw milk. Pasteurized milk causes so many chronic health problems.

  18. To a diabetic, sugar in any form may as well be toxic. This is another instance where the BG meter MUST be your guide.

    • With a family history of diabetes, and after watching family and friends waste away, and die way too soon from following the conventional wisdom of diabetes care (simply eating whatever you want, but monitoring BG, along with our current American sick care system in general), there is no truer statement than ‘sugar in any form may as well be toxic’.

      On the topic of addiction, I’m going to have to side with doctor’s Hyman and Lustig, and say that sugar is indeed addictive.

  19. I ate tons of sugar growing up. My mother was a sugarholic herself and she was always giving us candy. I recognized my addiction early on. I recall reading of how sugar wasn’t good for us and thinking to myself I just couldn’t give it up. But now I have, practically.

    I got a box of fancy chocolates for my birthday last month. So far, I’ve licked the dark chocolate coating off a few of them, that’s it. My son (who gave them to me) has partaken more of them, with my blessing.

    I bought a pint of Haagen-Dasz ice cream a couple of months ago. Most of it is still there.

    You get the picture 🙂 I do put xylitol in tea. btw, I’m aiming to lose some weight, and that’s part of it. But, as with alcohol, I’ve concluded it just doesn’t serve me.

    • Jenifer, sounds great but be aware that most xylitol is now made from GMO corn. You may be able to find certified birch tree xylitol on line. Or try a small organic stevia plant (available at whole foods in summer), dehydrate the leaves for 12 hours in the sun or in a dehydrator, then crush the leaves for an unrefined, long lasting sweet supply.

      • Hi Susan! My research on xylitol has led me to this info about the GMO question:

        “Much has been written and publicized about the dangers, both real and imagined, of genetically modifying corn to increase yields and make it less susceptible to pests. There are basically two reasons that this should not be of any concern to purchasers of xylitol manufactured from corn cobs. The first is that the Chinese farmers not only do not have any need or desire for GMO corn, but rather have been farming in their traditional ways for centuries and do not want to change their methods. This information was provided to us first hand by the owner of one of the largest xylitol importing companies who has personally made many trips to China to inspect their facilities and work with their government regarding the inspection and regulations that are required for importation into the US. The second reason should be obvious to anyone who has researched the methods of production of xylitol from corn cobs. The complex processes necessary to convert the hemicellulose first into xylan, then into D-xylose, and finally into xylitol actually change the chemical composition of the raw material so completely that the end product, which must also be filtered and refined, is of 99.5% or greater purity and has the same 5-carbon molecular structure as the xylitol that is found in nature. By the time this process is completed, there is nothing remaining that bears any resemblance to the original raw material, and all that is present are the pure xylitol crystals. As long as the final inspection, tests, and laboratory verification of the purity of the product are performed rigorously, the consumer can have complete confidence that there are no residual elements from the raw materials present in the final product.”

        That said, I do purchase from a company that advertises their xylitol is from birch (Xylitol USA), but I would not have any qualms about consuming it from any reputable company.

    • Jennifer, it is admirable that you are being diligent in your quest. Considering that Europeans did not have sugar before the 12th century I think that it shouldn’t actually be very hard to RE-adapt to a pre-sugar lifestyle. It is when we mix socially with others who don’t share your goals where the trouble rises.

      I too have cut down quite a bit and have substituted with Xylitol, modestly, for a few places where I really like a bit of sweetness.

      I’m not quite so concerned about the GMO issue as some. Humans have hybridized many, MANY crops since the beginning of the Neolithic age. Even native Americans had drastically changed the landscape and there are virtually no natural environs left on the planet. I’ve read a few dissertations on GMO and view some of the concerns as more alarmist than real.

      The simple FACT is that we now have 7 BILLION people on the planet and we must do this if we are going to survive and not have to kill off our neighbours for the meagre resources that are left. That SOUNDS like a joke but the danger is real! Food, water and fuel shortages have sparked MANY wars!


      • “I’m not quite so concerned about the GMO issue as some. Humans have hybridized many, MANY crops since the beginning of the Neolithic age. ” yes, but not using genetic engineering in such a large scale with the objective of maximize profit of big companies! Not know anything about the topic, I would put my money on the thesis that most previous hybridization – which were not made in the lab – were done with the objective of maximize nutrient content, not profit. Cheers

      • Christopher, for centuries plants have been hybridized. These changes increased yields but in some cases reduced the quality of the nutritional value.

        The major problem with GMO corn is that through genetic splicing, now every cell of the plant and it’s fruit contains the herbicide Round-up, and pesticide. I have a friend that farms in the neighborhood of 1,000 acres of corn, and won’t let us have one ear to eat, and is sickened that it is even fed to animals. Because of federal regulations this is the only seed he can get…so thank you Monsanto and Texas A&M.

        • Dwight,

          GMO corn does not contain Round-up, the GMO corn is resistant to the effects of Round-up so that it can be sprayed on the fields to kill the “weeds” and not the corn. The happening though is that the “weeds” are now adapting to the Round-up use; i.e., becoming resistant to Round-up through natural selection.

          The same thing is happening with the BT gene in the corn to kill insects….the insects are becoming resistant to the BT produced by the corn.

          In order to ensure that the use of these GMO grains remains a viable profit source, the farmers need to plant non-GMO crops along with the GMO crops to decrease (it won’t eliminate the problem) the weeds and insects from adapting.

          Mother Nature always wins.

          • Jim
            We are going to have to agree to disagree. As you pointed out, the BT gene is spliced into the seed, as is round up. I got my information from sellers and users of these seeds. When a friend that grows the stuff says “Don’t eat it”, I am going to take his word for it.

            Many countries have now banned the use of these seeds from being imported into their respective countries.

            Do a little research into Monsanto and their practices.

            • The BT variety of corn has a gene in it that makes a toxin that kills the corn root worm. It kills it by causing the insect to have Leaky Gut Syndrome! Talk to naturopaths, Leaky Gut Syndrome is off the charts in North America.

      • Comparing hibridization to GMOS is like saying it is ok to have hidrogenated fats because we can make butter out of milk.

        Sorry that is not the issue here. The hibridization takes part of the natural gene pool of species, and even so, there are cases that continually crossing of the same seeds and selecting might lead to problems. Nature doesnt like that, nature likes crossings to be by natural selection but not too exaggerated as those that take part when you manipulate crops, and continuously cross close related seeds. Some crops might develop toxins, and might change their actual nutritional value, while maintaining characteristics that seem to be favorable to farming or harvesting – things that we dont realize until we discover it through extensive testing (and using humans as giny pigs). Ideally, you should let a little bit more randomness on the seeds we plant to take place. We all know what happens to certain breeds of dogs
        and the english royal family.

        Even so, this was just for hybridization. Problems with GMOS are much worse, as people fail to realize that is not a CONTROLLED even. This engineered species can enter the food supply uncontrolled leaving no chance for humans who want to play safe to do it. This is not ok, has the TESTING needed for GMOs to be considered safe for an experiment like this is COMPLETELY NON EXISTENT. They can not, and should not be released into the wild. You want GMOs, you make them grow on DOME controlled like biospheres. Farming GMOs in the wild might lead to another form of human pollution – THE GENETIC POLLUTIONS (as if we didnt screwed up mother earth enough already). This genetic pollution, entering the food chain can contaminate every living thing on a short generation span. Do you want to risk it? NO. It is not needed. You dont need GMOs. You need a proper economy, where propper food is valued. GMOs are not a solution to the worlds hunger problems – that is nothing more than a heart appeal.

    • I agree sugar is addictive and dangerous…at least for many people.

      I wish Chris would have given more info about how much money ( MILLIONS!) the sugar industry has used to fool/scam people and influence science studies and gov’t and health agencies ( researched by brilliant Gary Taubes):


      as well as linked to Robert H. Lustig, MD important research like on youtube “sugar the bitter truth”.

      The only sweetener I will eat ( very rarely and small amounts) is unheated, raw honey…the ONLY sweetener that has been proven to be a healing food and is a true ancestral, REAL food.