I was wrong about sugar…

Posted on October 24th, 2013

Just kidding.

Although today I want to take a moment to emphasise and clarify a really crucial issue that a few unmentionables in the comments insist on challenging: that my focus on fructose is misguided. Or, more specifically, that substituting fructose with glucose as a sweetener is misguided (which I don’t actually do, but more in a second…).

Image via

Photography by Angie Gassner & Thomas Mailer

I’m responding to you lot (calm and reasonable readers; not Mr Unmentionable) in the event that you might be wondering if I care about the issue at all.

I do. And to be honest, I’ve had to double-check my position. Just to get clear myself. And for this, I’m grateful to the Mr Unmentionables out there who like to go after me for encouraging people to get real with their sugar intake. As I emphasise throughout my books and other materials, I’m constantly exploring and researching this area and am open to tweaking my thinking as I go. Then sharing it with anyone (calm and reasonable) in my orbit who cares to read on.

So, let’s break it down.

Why do I target fructose specifically (and not sugar as a whole, or glucose)?

Sugar is 50:50 fructose and glucose. It’s the fructose bit that I say is problematic. This is because:

1. Fructose is metabolised by our liver (while glucose is metabolised by all our cells). This taxes the liver BIG TIME: it spends so much energy turning fructose into other molecules that it may not have much energy left for all its other functions. Leading to the production of uric acid, which also promotes insulin resistance and is linked to a whole bunch of metabolic diseases.

2. This liver dumpage also causes it to store the fructose as fat, especially in the liver, and triglycerides, leading to a fatty liver and insulin resistance.

3. Fructose stuffs our appetite mechanisms. Our bodies strictly regulate the amount of glucose in the blood. Glucose stimulates the pancreas to Read more

Does your hair fall out when you quit sugar?

Posted on August 28th, 2013

While I was riding a mountain bike in Sardinia’s barren hills last week a sugary fuss was hitting fans Down Under. Did you read the fuss?

Image via Favim

Image via Favim

The upshot of the fuss, if you missed it, is that a Sydney nutritionist is putting out a book that counters I Quit Sugar. It’s called Don’t Quit Sugar. I don’t think I’m flattering myself when I say it’s geared as a direct attack on my work.

(As an aside, I always feared “I Quit Sugar” was a negative title…but this whole thing started as a personal experience and blog post. The name was from this initial blog post and it kinda stuck. The double negative title of this new book would kill me. Ditto the didactic tone of it all. I like to say “I quit sugar, it worked for me, you might like to try it too.”. An invitation, not an edict.)

Now, normally I prefer to let fuss fly by. There is plenty of room on the planet for all opinions and approaches. And retaliation and negativity and getting all didactic is generally not a great way to make a point. Or a pleasant way to cohabit with other human beings who are also just trying to do their thing.

But there were questions from so many of you, I felt a blog post was the most efficient way to respond, especially when one is meant to be having a holiday. Of sorts.

I first came across the forthcoming book’s author Cassie Platt a few months ago when she had a blog by the very similar name – I Didn’t Quit Sugar – which she shared with her friend Kate Skinner. I had a bit of a flick. At the time, a few things struck me as odd:

1. The message was the same as mine. Which confounded me. They weren’t not quitting sugar. They Read more

make your own ginger-ade soda

Posted on November 13th, 2012

Do you fit one or several of these scenarios? Gone sugar free, but crave a “sweet” soft drink/soda, especially on hot days? Want a healthy drink to give the kids? Got gut issues and need to up the probiotics in your diet? Need more electrolytes? I think I have the answer: homemade ginger-ade.

Ginger-ade experiments: I used mason jars to do the first fermentation, then did the rest in bottles

I kind of got obsessed about this stuff, researching the different ways to make it, and, over the course of a week, I tried out four variations, and made two starter cultures. And did a lot of obsessed checking and shaking and fiddling in the kitchen (you’ll have to scroll to the end of the post to see my verdict – which was the best combo).

To back peddle: ginger-ade is a fermented food. I’ve written about the benefits of fermenting, and shared recipes, here and here. Fermentation – in the case of sodas – is a process that sees sugar broken down, via bacteria, to create lactic acid and carbonation. Lactic acid is a probiotic which helps digestion, supports the immune system and hydrates.

Sugar?? Did I just say sugar??!! Yes.

Sugar is almost always used for making fermented sodas, but the fructose is “eaten” up in the process. Read more