105 days without processed sugar...:-)

And counting - I need to break 107 for it to be my longest run without the big bad S. :sunny:

So what are you doing well right now? :thumbsup:

Those of you who are as inclined to slightly OCD tracking as I am might enjoy the tick-that-day-off tool I use at:


:boom: :zap: :beers: :cocktail:


So let me jump in with two big feet, here :wink:
What’s bad about sucrose - a very simple organic molecule (C6H22O11) and important source of energy? Bags of sugar were one of the few shop-bought products that were pure enough to be kept as chemical reagents in laboratories. If it’s the impurities that you’re interested in, however, I know very little about them.

Sugars from other sources - glucose, sucrose, fructose from honey etc all have their values to our species in moderation and all can be harmful in excess (refined or not).

I’m an enthusiastic cook and keep a store of some exotic sugars, not for their benefit to health, but for their interesting taste in certain dishes. As for refined sugar, I should add that a bag lasts our family a substantial part of a year.

How is it that after this abstention from the “big bad S”, you’re still such a sweet-talkin’ sonofagun? :smiley:

Not so simple, sir…:wink:

It’s a disaccharide - one molecule of glucose, one molecule of fructose.

Fructose is the problem - because:

It can only be converted to ATP in the liver.

The enzyme PFK-1 is usually responsible for stopping the creation of ATP if we have a surplus for our energy needs. In normal conditions this means that body won’t create excess circulating fatty acids (which is what happens with a surplus of ATP).


Fructose, uniquely, does not need the presence of PFK-1 to be converted to ATP.

In other words, fructose doesn’t have an off-switch. High levels of fructose (compared to pretty much the whole of our evolutionary history, so high here = more than one or two pieces of fruit per diem) lead directly to uniquely high levels of circulating fatty acids. The higher levels of body fat this leads to are actually the good bit - they’re helping get the fatty acids out of the bloodstream.

The bad bit is the impact on our liver (think Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease here), on our arteries (think cardiovascular disease or MI here) and on our pancreas (where it can kill off the islets of Langerhans - think Type II -> simulated Type I (ie permanent) diabetes here).

Since doing the research, I have found it extraordinarily easy to cut processed sugar out of my diet (apart from a brief trough of self-pity when Caleb died). :sunny:

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On a related note, we now keep pure glucose as the sweetener of choice - takes about twice as much to get the same ‘sweetness’ hit as sucrose, but gets regulated by PFK-1, so it’s much harder to go OTT.

It’s obvious you’ve done some serious reading, Aran - the biochemistry is sound - as a biophysicist I can vouch for that. If you’re reading has created anxiety, however, I would question its value. (That’s right - a scientist questioning the value of science article(s)!)

I should declare another interest which has motivated my own research into sugars and other foodstuffs. On reaching my late forties, my sporting energy-burning activities declined but my calorie intake did not and unsurprisingly, I succumbed to Type II Diabetes (which I am happy to report is beautifully controlled by some brilliant chemicals)… I did my own research (as you have done) and talked carefully with my doctors and came up with the conclusion I offered above - “everything OK in moderation” - not scientific, I admit but sound advice for me. :smile:

That’s the name of the game, isn’t it? :sunny:

Have you done any work on the qualitative difference in the processing of fructose in the presence of fibre? It seems to have a marked impact - and, of course, with the exception of honey, that’s pretty much what consumption of fructose implied, pre-industrialisation. People have been commenting on these general issues since the tail-end of the nineteenth century, but it’s clear that some massive PR on the deeply flawed concept that eating fat is the key driver for increased fatty acids made a huge difference to industry and health research in the 50s and 60s.

I agree that moderation is a good general rule. It’s also clear that replacing sucrose with glucose has no downside, and that coming off processed sugar entirely has no negative health impact. That leaves me happy enough to take those steps even just to try and minimise the risks of atherosclerosis.

Yup, I’ve been going into this in depth - needed to, to be able to carry on disagreeing with my ENT consultant brother…:wink: I warmly recommend David Gillespie’s ‘Sweet Poison’ - careful research and an occasionally lovely turn of phrase :sunny:

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No. To be honest, my research has always been more concerned with the physics and chemistry of processes at the organelle level (mitochondria, chloroplasts) rather than at the level of organs or organisms and, moreover, it was exclusively in vitro than in vivo. Having said that the topic you mention sounds interesting enough to draw me out of retirement. I did my research in a Department (Phys Chem Nottingham) which was also very strong on catalysis and surface chemistry.

Let me describe my personal position on the relationship between biochemistry (traditionally a reductionist science) and health (by definition an holistic field). Since you and I are both organisms (albeit differently arranged :slight_smile: ) I don’t believe that biochemistry and other hard science is sufficient to guide us on what we should eat. There are far too many variables to make us viable laboratory subjects. I do certainly believe that fundamental research should continue to contribute to a comprehensive picture of us and our physiology and pathology. You may recall that I have vested interest in advances in neurochemistry and look forward to these feeding into the treatment of mental illnesses in the same way that I hope biochemistry, biophysics et al will eventually make Dietetics more effective and consistent than it currently is.

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(Do you think, if this is “wedi ailtweeto”, I’ll get some freebies from Tate & Lyle? :wink:


Hah, I thought I’d fooled you :sunny:

Yes, I agree about the variables, and in general terms I tend towards holistic approaches - but I find the specificity of a different chemical reaction for the conversion of fructose enormously interesting, and the impact on levels of fatty acids sticks it front and centre in the suspects’ list for a load of nasties.

I also find it interesting that the GLUT5 protein, which can only absorb fructose, is present almost only in the small intestine, and increases significantly and quickly as soon as any fructose is detected - an ideal mechanism for making sure we don’t miss a gram of the stuff, and a terrific bit of biochemistry for an organism that has extremely limited access to fructose…

Yet clearly not such a good biochemical solution, when coupled with the lack of PFK-1 as an off-switch, in a fructose-rich environment.

I had to hop on this thread as I am all about sugar alternatives! We cut out white granulated sugar a few years ago when we went paleo/primal. (I know, I am that annoying person.) To this day, when we do have dessert, I sweeten it with dates, honey, maple syrup or coconut palm sugar. Those sweeteners can still wreck my body if I overdo it, but I do feel much better about using them than I do regular sugar. Today I am going to make a gluten free loaf of Bara Brith using coconut palm sugar, though I doubt it’ll need much sweetener with all that dried fruit added.
Here’s to your 107 days!

Snap! Really interesting to hear that. I found it very tough to begin with, even though I’d been off starchy carbs in general for quite a while - but now I can’t really imagine going back, which is a shocking state of affairs for someone who used to live principally on chocolate…:wink:

I’m jealous of your bara brith! I keep meaning to get around to figuring out no sugar ice-cream, or maybe with just some glucose, and then life gets in the way… :sunny:

I hear ya! Funny how what once seemed impossible can eventually turn into the norm, huh? I’ve just recently given up coffee (sob) and while I still miss that nice jolt it gives me, I feel much better.

Re: ice cream-- This sounds really crunchy, but we like to freeze bananas and then puree them in the food processor and top with slivered almonds, dried coconut flakes, etc. Another fun alternative is cold whipped coconut cream with a bit of honey and cinnamon. Or just do what I do and eat clotted cream straight from the jar! :smile: I tried to make REAL ice cream once, but failed miserably. Let me know if you figure out a good recipe, please!

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Without giving quantities, I start with a custard - egg yolks, vanilla sugar (*) and milk. Allow to cool then add double cream and pour into an ice-cream maker - homemade - no additives - delicious. :yum:

(*) I keep a jar of caster sugar with a few vanilla pods in it rather than use vanilla essence.


Oh yum, that sounds delicious! Writing it down now. Thank you!

I’m not going to get involved in the sugar debate (although I’ve been reading up on this sort of thing for decades, and do have “a view”).

I’ll just say that I managed to do without any caffeine for quite a few weeks, although I’ve broken my “fast” of late, but still don’t drink as much of it as I used to. (It was mostly tea in my case). There are arguments for and against caffeine, but latterly I was persuaded into the “anti” camp. It’s probably ok in moderation, but I was doing it to excess, and cold turkey seemed the only way to break that (caffeine withdrawal headaches, etc - not nice).

I do have a bit of an OCD tendency, but I don’t use tracking software. That would conflict with my other obsession about not being too dependent on software (er, except web browsers and MP3 playing software, of course, to which I am hopelessly addicted…).

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Ah, now that would be a step too far right now - maybe when the kids have left home…:wink:

I got a bit caffeine-dependent when I was in Dubai, and then came off it because I was a bit scared that it could affect my mood as much as it did - been on and off since then, sometimes going in the direction of a morning guarana energy drink instead, which I really like - but very firmly on at the moment…:wink:

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About the book “Sweet Poison” - I read that recently as well, seemed pretty convincing about the fructose, but just going to ignore it for a bit - seems kinda hard to quit fructose, and also I need to quit quitting things (because my control freak side flippin’ loves quitting things).

congrats on the 105,6,7 day streak though!!


(Ice cream): It isn’t that difficult actually, and there are several recipes out there on the net. The ones with egg-yolks and what we would call double-cream (I think you use different terminology in the USA) are probably best.

But after a while I’d simply overdosed on the stuff and didn’t feel like making it any more. Less of a problem perhaps if you have a young family to hoover it up.

I suspect there are healthier and just as fun alternatives, to be honest.

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Same with jam/marmalade. I made some orange marmalade using glucose using my own orange harvest, and it tasted pretty good. I also made some without any sugar or sweetening agent at all. Not recommended.


Forgot to mention that there’s a really great documentary called “Fed Up” that is all about sugar and the obesity epidemic in the US and how all the processed “low fat” foods are high in sugar and creating a huge mess. I’m not a nutritionist by any means, but I really enjoyed watching it.

Now off to make some ice cream…kidding! Ice cream is for weekends. :wink:


I wish you lot would all stop talking about ice-cream…:wink:

106! :fire: