Beyond Sugar Free

Today is October 1st, 2010. It a brand new month and a brand new day. This day has never been seen or experienced before, and it is a day that I make a challenge to myself. I have been sugar free for over a year now, avoiding all sweeteners that raise blood sugar and insulin levels. But today I’m going beyond this, and moving to a new health challenge in which I hope to benefit from.

Going sugar free was probably the best thing I could’ve done for my health. It has provided me with clairty of thought, clearer skin and increased energy. But what if I could experience a higher level of health, one that brings forth the absense of sweeteners all together?

We have grown too dependent on sweet taste, even those who are cooks who use the healthiest ingredients possible. Stevia and xylitol are amazing sweeteners, that won’t increase blood sugar, but I’m afraid I have become too dependent on their additions into my tea, desserts and various other recipes.

I have been researching sweet taste for quite awhile now, and have found some discussing that sweet taste, no matter where it comes from, stimulates insulin levels. This may explain why diet drinks can actually promote weight gain. Even some studies have shown that Stevia helps the pancreas secrete insulin, which can be good when you have high blood sugar, but what if your blood sugar hasn’t risen at all? Is it safe to have elveated insulin, circulating around in your body?

When your blood sugar rises, insulin becomes the effector in the homeostatic mechanism which regulates blood sugar control. It is secreted from your pancreas, and helps take in the glucose monomers (which were broken down from carbohydrates) into your cells which use it for energy. However, if you blood sugar hasn’t risen, yet insulin has, excess insulin can store fat.

Also, high insulin levels can be inflammatory, and many have already concluded that raising your insulin levels contributes to diabetes tremendously, due to the fact that your cells become less sensitive to insulin over time. Because insulin is fat storage hormone, it can be difficult to lose weight if it is secreted excessively. Because it doesn’t have any glucose to take into the cells, it more than likely is stored as fat. This may be the reason why diet soft drinks do not aid in weight loss, and actually contribute to weight gain.

Our ancestors had a way for storing fat whenever they came across berries or sugary carbohydrates, because their bodies knew that famine would be experienced soon. Since fat is a long term energy source, storing it after coming across fruit or other carbohydrates was necessary for survival later on.

After eating the berries or the fruit, which was very rare to do, blood sugar elevated. Insulin then helped take the broken down carbohydrates (glucose-simple sugar) into adipose (fat) cells for later energy use. Thus, many believe that our bodies have evolved from the experiences of our ancestors, to a point where any sweet taste we experience helps secrete insulin. Our bodies may believe that famine will ensure again, and our insulin rises in order to protect our selves and help us survive.

For the rest of the year, I am devoting my entire diet around living sweet free. It is defcinitely a challenge for me, because I love baking, “unbaking” (raw desserts) and making sweet treats for my family. I can still do this, and I will still post recipes every now and then for something sweet and sugar free, but I will not eat it, at least not for a while now.

For three months I shall devote myself to this regimin, and then report back to see if anything has change. I will not eat fruits, either (you can receive the same nutrients from vegetable sources that you get from fruit), or stevia, xylitol, etc. I really do want to see if anything happens or changes in my body, and in my life.

I have tried an experiment on this blog before, my No Grain Experiment. It helped me realize that certain carbohydrates are good, and give me energy. Those from buckwheat and quinoa, for example, help fuel my energy levels throughout the day. I know I shall learn something from this experiemtn, as well.

Are you challenging yourself everyday? Let me know in the comments section. I think that its really important to test yourself and see what you can do, if only so you can know for yourself. You don’t have to prove yourself to anyone, but you must know who you are and what you are capable of (which is anything!).

For now, this is The healthy Advocate.

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15 Responses to “Beyond Sugar Free”
  1. liz 1 October 2010 at 1:56 pm #

    good luck! you can do it!

    • Brandon May 2 October 2010 at 3:26 pm #

      Thanks for your support Liz. Couldn’t do it without you behind me! :)

      -brandon

  2. Lynda 1 October 2010 at 4:27 pm #

    You have just given me the inspiration to do the same thing. I don’t use sugar but do use a lot of stevia. I shall be looking forward to reading of your experience with this.

    • Brandon May 2 October 2010 at 3:26 pm #

      I’m so glad to not be going at this challenge alone. Thanks Lynda! In two weeks we should both share our experiences to see if anything has changed. Let me know. :)

      -Brandon

  3. stephanie a. 2 October 2010 at 5:18 am #

    you are my hero! i stopped eating refined sugars and as you said it was the best thing i’ve done for my health on so many levels. but i use honey and occasionally maple syrup and i eat lots of fruits every day (when i don’t, i crave sweets). i will be anxiously following your experience, and want to acknowledge that you are pursuing this during possibly the hardest time of year to do so!

    • Brandon May 2 October 2010 at 3:25 pm #

      Thank you for your support Stephanie! With Halloween, Thanksgiving and the winter holidays coming up, this will definitely be challenging. I will be going at it for two weeks at first, to notice any change, and then proceed to 4 weeks, etc. I’m glad you’re behind me!

      -Brandon

  4. lizeckel 2 October 2010 at 3:25 pm #

    also wondering if you are hip to mark’s daily apple. it’s such a good resource for diets similar to the one you are challenging yourself to. i’m sure you’re already a regular, but i thought i’d put it out there for you.
    best,
    liz

    • Brandon May 2 October 2010 at 3:29 pm #

      Hey Liz,

      I have visited Mark’s Daily Apple, but haven’t been doing so regularly. Thanks for the reminder. I will subscribe to his feed ASAP.

  5. Susan 4 March 2012 at 6:11 am #

    I ran across this website after trying to find out if stevia is raising my blood sugar. I woke up with elevated blood sugar levels (though not diabetic, yet). I am normal weight, eat no sugar, little fruit, lots of veggies and some proteins and healthy fats. I exercise 5 days per week, running and weights…all this to say, I’m not able to lose fat, though I have gained about 5 pounds (and it is very obviously muscle). I would still be normal weight if I lost 10 pounds…so that’s my goal. Anyway, did you find any correlation to stevia and weight or simply any other observations? I do use it in SO many things and sip tea much of the day. I think I’m going to fast stevia for a while!

    Thanks!

    • admin 4 March 2012 at 7:19 am #

      Hi Susan,

      Yes, I actually do notice that when I consume a lot of stevia sweeten beverages or foods that my weight does fluctuate instead of staying constant. Why does it do that? I theorize that anything sweet “activates” or “brightens” up the taste buds, and we want to consume more food overall. Still not sure. It might also have to do with the insulin release.

      • Susan 5 March 2012 at 8:20 pm #

        Thank you…I have questioned this,too. I know it’s theory, but I’m getting good at listening to my body and I believe there might be something to this. Before I fast it completely, I have started just having stevia sweetened foods/drinks with full meals. Between meals, even with snacks, I’m just doing water. We’ll see how a few weeks of this goes. Thanks again!

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