The Evils of Sugar (Fructose)

Dr. Shere Conway
Dr. Shere Conway

Primary Care Practitioner

Currently in January 2023, I am personally struggling yet again to get fructose out of my diet.  It has regained a hold again with the recent holidays.

I am sure that I will do it again as I have gone months before without it, but I am writing this to help others who are in a similar situation.

Let’s talk about why sugar is so bad and why you would want to do go without it.

First, it is a very inflammatory substance and contributes to pain (especially joint and muscle), rashes including acne, bladder irritation, including nocturia (getting up to urinate at night) and pain of interstitial cystitis, night sweats, and contributes to dehydration, obesity and malnutrition.  Also, contributes to an impaired microbiome which is overgrown with yeast contributing to the food cravings. Second, it is hard to get rid of by the liver.  The liver has a rate limiting step for fructose, just like with alcohol, so it and high carb diets cause fatty liver and cirrhosis over time when consumed in high quantities.  Thirdly, it hijacks the brain because it causes a dopamine high, just like drugs and alcohol do, and therefore with high quantities over time, the brain down regulates these receptors and makes it harder to get off the fructose (causing withdrawals).

Next, is all fructose bad?  All has been corrupted as everything in this world has by “sin”.  It is ubiquitous; currently our children consume more in one day than our grandparents ate in 2 years.  Fructose is the sugar in fruit and so you ask, is fruit bad?  There is not an easy answer to that.  Fruit has been corrupted but I do believe in small quantities and in season then it is fine (and for me, I have found it is less addicting than other borderline foods–dairy, fruit and nuts).  What about sweeteners? Aspartame is very damaging to the brain; sucralose is hard on your microbiome; Erythritol does cause intestinal gas. Maple syrup, Stevia, and coconut sugar can be used but be careful as they keep cravings/”sweet tooth” high.

What about nuts?  In general, they are ok, but be mindful about them as they can cause addictive behavior with them (eating more than a quarter cup at a sitting) and the drupes () are worse than the true nuts.  Dairy? It has chemicals that act like morphine in the brain, so of course watch cravings.

Finally, now that we understand why it is so bad, how can we abstain.  I believe that it is important to find out how addicted you are to fructose to start.  Both bright line eating ( and sugar addiction ( have good assessment tools.  Since I have tried out both programs, I know the good and bad about each and am happy to share that on an individual basis.  Even if you are not highly addicted to fructose, I would encourage you to be abstinent for at least 30 days and preferably 90 days.  This will allow your body to reset itself and make it easier to have small quantities of the substance but be warned that every time you play with fire, it will likely get burned.  I will say that the longer you are off the easier as with any sin patterns the easier it is to say no and the less likely that a small amount will trigger another binge.

Because it is so addicting and causes so many withdrawal symptoms, it is very helpful to have good support around you.  I encourage you to fill out the assessments (above) as well as the craving questionnaire and then make an appointment to see me and we can discuss further amino acids and support that you will need. 

For more information, please read Julia Ross’ book “The Craving Cure” as she has a good discussion about why our current food is so damaging.

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