The Effects of Sugar

What is the straight scoop on sugar, sugar substitutes, and all of the various manifestations of sugar? Good question! Check out this week’s Vlog for the answer!


  1. Gail

    Susan, Since oats, rice and almonds are included in the Bright Line grains, is bread made of these foods in the form of flour but without wheat flour acceptable?

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  2. Danae McCoy

    Has anyone received a response on wether we should be eating fruit or not? I’m a 10 so guessing fruit is also out! If that’s the case I assume natural maple syrup is also not in line with the guideline?

    Is there a book on this she has written that answers all these questions?

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    1. Donna

      You may have already gotten your answer, but just in case you haven’t: Fruit is allowed in measured quantities, and she has written a book that I found very helpful before I ever joined a boot camp: Bright Line Eating: The Science of Living Happy, Thin & Free. Hope this helps!

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  3. Bright Line Eating

    Such a great question, Laura! And thanks for your curiosity too, Mesa Mike!

    Here’s the answer: there is insoluble fiber in whole grains that help slow down the absorption of glucose into the blood stream. When we turn the grain into powder, it enters the bloodstream as sugar and our addictive brains get “lit up” so it’s more difficult for us to stay in our Bright Lines.

    This might not apply to you if you’re not above a 5 on our Susceptibility Scale… have you ever taken the Quiz? It’s on the Home page of the website, if you’re curious.

    Again, thanks for tuning in and for your great question!

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  4. Laura P Curtis

    I don’t understand why brown rice and wheatberries that are freshly ground from their whole food state in a high-powered blender are not acceptable in their”flour” form. It is a whole grain simply ground to a powder and since brown rice is accepted and whole grains are accepted in their natural form in the Bright Line Eating information I cannot figure out why scientifically there would be a difference. When I use these flours it is to make unleavened bread with nothing but water and a pinch of salt and then done in a cast iron pot (wheatberry flour) the rice flour I use in tiny amounts 3 tbsp for chinese sauces or veggie pancakes for breakfast. Please give me the rationale in scientific terms as to why one form would be a trigger when the other is not?

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    1. Mesa Mike

      I’m very curious about this too as I agree with your rationale. Anyone out there willing to take a shot at an answer???

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    2. Kirsten

      Susan says in her book that when it’s ground up the molecules are different and when it’s separated from its whole form your body absorbs its way faster and I think spikes your blood sugar more? She talks about it in her book and I think mentions it in this video-

      She has an analogy where it’s like a block of ice melting on pavement, it’ll take longer, where as if you scatter tons of little ice on the pavement, it will melt instantly.

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  5. Dr. John Sullivan

    I just got your email regarding metabolism and thyroid. Interesting. I have found that I can and have maintained a healthy metabolism by “correct” exercise. Muscle burns energy and keeps the metabolism high. I too have Hashimoto’s and have even tried to stop taking synthroid and my TSH went through the roof. I am 72, had a body fat of 17% while doing traditional exercise of ‘cardio’ and weight machines. Was getting fatter and fatter. Could not exercise more and more to keep up and was getting really frustrate. Then I found kettlebell training and Strong First. My life is great again and I never train more than 30 minutes a day. Strength is the key. Along with proper paleo based eating for me. I am now 131 lbs, 5.5% body fat at 5’5″ … Works for me.

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  6. Jane

    What about sugar in dates??? Is this ok or is it to be avoided?

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    First of all I have listened to all the Vlog’s. Thanks so much for all your support. You are a life saver [ not to tempt any body’s sugar craving ]. As requested in an above post. I know if I signed up for the boot camp I would learn the answer to this question but I just cant afford it right now. Can you give us a general idea of besides no sugar ,no flour , no prepackaged foods. lots of veg. and some fruits [ are there fruits not to eat or veg. not to eat ] Can you give us a typical day of what you do eat? Thanks Carolyn

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  8. Brynda

    Hi Susan. I just listened to your interview on the Peak Performance Summary. It was great by the way, I listened to it three times to make sure I did not miss anything. I am left with one question for you. You mentioned a pasta made from beans that was ok to eat because it was only made from the bean. How is that different that eating Oat Flour if the Oat Flour is only made from whole oats? Thank you very much for your response.

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  9. katarina

    Hi Susan, I just watched your video about The Effects of Sugar. What I do not understand is the following:
    It seems to me that you ignore the fact that eating sweet fruits ( which is allowed in BLE) like bananas, peaches, strawberries etc. causes the same effect on our taste buds? The taste buds surely recognise the sweet taste of some fruit, so how is it different from eating stevia or other natural sweeteners? Thank you for your answer. Katarina

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  10. Marguerite Barnard

    This video on sugar will not play. So far all the other videos play just find. Since this video is not on YouTube, I cannot watch it there. I have tried to get the video to play, shut down the computer reloading the email. I need all the help on sugar I can get. In the meantime, I will not use stevia or xylitol. Please help.
    I still have not received my invitation to join the BLE online support community and paid $19.99 by credit card.
    I made this Request January 6th and was emailed a receipt at 3:19PM. I have looked at other web sites and have not found anything relevant.
    Thank you for you consideration and help.


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  11. Allyn Babitch

    A small correction to an above post- wheat at this time is not on the GMO (genetically modified organism) list, though apparently there is work underway to try to genetically modify it, presumably to be resistant to Round-Up so that herbicide can be used on the crop as well as the weeds.

    Wheat has been genetically selected for many decades to be more productive, resistant to certain diseases, etc.,; perhaps at the expense of some of its nutritional profile. It may be that some non-celiac people who nonetheless feel they are wheat sensitive are in fact not sensitive to its gluten (a natural plant protein found in several types of plants), but to its various recent selected-for traits; or to herbicides, etc.

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  12. Allyn Babitch

    Note that Ezekiel 4:9 products are not only flour-free, being made from 6 kinds of organic sprouted whole grains that have not been ground into flour; they are also sugar free. This may be the only brand of bread and pasta products that are both flour and sugar free? The texture is understandably a little different, and the taste earthier and perhaps blander, having no added artificial flavors. No preservatives are used, so the breads and muffins are generally found in the freezer section, if the store carries them. And they do cost more! Of course.

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    1. Karen Coghlan

      I started removing sugar from my diet the first part of October 2015 after learning about Bright Line Eating. Back then I wanted to have sugar free Cranberry juice, so decided to make my own. At first, I used 2 Dates to sweeten 1/2 cup of the Fresh Cranberries blended with water, and it did a nice job, not very sweet but enough to tolerate the tartness of the Cranberries… But lately about 3 months later, I have been able to have the Cranberry Juice with no sweetener at all, just berries and water, it is tart but not overwhelmingly. Also, I wanted to mention that it seems that all my foods are sweeter since I have stopped eating sugar… A simple baked potato with a little butter tastes like something more decadent. Baked Yams or Sweet Potatoes plain, are like a delicious pudding dessert, yum… Karen

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      1. Karen Coghlan

        Sorry for replying under your post… Didn’t intend to do that …

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  13. Allyn Babitch

    A correction to a comment about genetically modified foods- at this point wheat has not been genetically modified and is not “Round-Up Ready” like non-organic field corn, soy, rapeseed (used to make canola oil), cotton, etc. I believe they are working on it though. There are lists of genetically modified foods available online for those who are interested- for a non-ranting one, see I don’t believe that human-consumed sweet corn is genetically modified, BTW; field corn, used for livestock and to make all kinds of corn-derived products, is.

    Some crops are modified to resist disease, last longer, grow faster, etc. Some, like the ones listed above, are also altered to be resistant to Round-Up, so the crop itself can be sprayed along with the weeds. This, perhaps predictably, has allowed new Round-Up resistant weeds to evolve, which will now require more potent herbicides to again be used; the long term plan being to then make the crops resistant to that more potent herbicide. And on and on it could go. Monsanto, etc., have recently been denied permission to develop a certain type of proposed more potent herbicide, so I’m not sure where that will take them. There is a proposal to genetically modify farmed salmon, which would be the first animal to undergo the process. This is to increase growth rate and size, and “save the wild salmon”. Monsanto, etc., does like to put the positive spin on things, of course, and indeed there are some positive benefits which could be gleaned from the process; but one has to look at it as a whole and decide.

    For animal product consumers- most non-organic livestock animals in this country eat genetically modified corn and soy products. (many countries have banned genetically modified foods)- so if this matters to you opt for organic meats, eggs, and dairy products, as organic is always non-modified. In addition, for better nutritional profile and animal humaneness choose pasture-fed meats, eggs, and dairy products, which will take some looking for, though they’re getting a little more common even in mainstream stores. These may increase safety in meat products as well, as cows, for instance, who are fed grain products in feedlots, have the pH of their intestinal tract altered by the grains, which makes them more prone to ulcers (one of the reasons for giving low level antibiotics, another nightmare scenario for public health); and making them more likely to harbor dangerous ecoli, which don’t live as well in the grass eating rumen’s GI tract but can live more happily in the altered PH tract of the feedlot cow. Same for confinement dairy cows, unfortunately. Organic and pasture fed cost more to produce, and aren’t subsidized by the government like factory farmed products, so do expect to pay more. For lists of some of the best brands for these factors see the Cornucopia Institute website

    Eggs from confined chickens have an altered (for the worse) nutritional profile as well, so pasture fed eggs are the best all-around choice- again harder to find and more expensive. Organic, cage free and free range do not in any way guarantee that the hens are not confined, or mostly confined with no natural feeding. Again, see the Cornucopia website for more information.

    Anyway, wanted to point out that wheat is not a GMO (genetically modified organism) at this point. It has, however, been genetically selected for many many years for traits like productivity that may have decreased the nutritional value and upped the sensitivity factors. It’s quite possible that many people are not in fact gluten sensitive, they just don’t react well to modernized wheat products. Gluten is a natural plant protein found in several plants, and most people are (or should be) fine with it. The whole gluten-free craze is mostly marketing, IMO- but going with more “ancient” grains may be a good thing to do for some.

    Ocean Robbins “Food Revolution Network” is one place to get more information on ongoing food developments. Thanks Susan for tipping us to his site.

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  14. Karen

    How do you completely eliminate flour and sugar? Even eating organic and non-processed foods, there is both present at times. Without joining the expensive boot camp, can you please give us an example of actual Bright Line Eating and the foods you typically eat on any given day? I understand if you are high on the susceptibility scale, this doesn’t mean you don’t have will power to exist, but rather your body reacts to cravings more?

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  15. Jim Pitre

    I’m low on the susceptibility scale, however have been on a constant diet since I was about 45 (now 76) Have been very active athletically at times doing extreme endurance sports, but never free from the weight gain problem. Currently weigh 222# which is about 15# over my target, so some may not worry about this, however all I have to do is think about food and I gain. Been on the Bright Line program for about 6 months now (mostly organic, lots of vegetables and very little meat with nothing out of a package or restaurant), and am holding steady, but not losing. If my portion size exceeds about 1,500 calories/day, I gain, so guess I will be in permanent deprivation.

    Question: I make my own organic milk yogurt – what about adding 1/2 a tablespoon of maple syrup to 1 1/2 cups of plain yogurt ? – doesn’t make it taste sweet, but cuts the harsh taste to a more palatable level

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  16. Dan

    I found giving up flour and sugar to be so easy and effective, not so much the strict no snacking rule. I did pile on the dates, raisins and stevia. Well, I guess the party’s over for me. Time to bring it to the next level. Thanks Susan! (without sarcasm–really!)

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  17. Sam DuBois

    In response to the question about scientific proof above.
    1. I found this tongue-to-brain signal the most fascinating part of this vlog, thank you!
    2. Let’s not ask for proof about blood SUGAR but about blood INSULIN (which is what Dr. Susan said, if I understood right). Blood SUGAR spikes – that is reflected in the glycemic index, and I imagine that what Stacy has read shows that non-sugar sweeteners have low glycemic indices. The tastebuds-to-brain mechanisms (nucleus accumbens and preemptive insulin release) are not related to a blood sugar spike, but to a perceived spike!
    3. Of course, I would also love to see the studies showing this!
    Thanks for the most intriguing thing I’ve seen “all year”!

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  18. Catriona

    Hi Susan, I’m very high on the susceptibility scale, and have always eaten dates for potassium, but I’ll stop now. I’m trying to cleanse my body, but I quess even natures bounty can trigger weight gain, when you don’t know all the facts. Thanks for all your info, there are so many contradictions about food out there, but I trust your scientific knowledge, you explain it so clearly

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  19. Stacy

    Could you please provide scientific proof / links to studies that back up what you are saying…I want to see proof that stevia, coconut sugar, agave, xylitol actually raises blood sugar levels. Everything I’ve found online for stevia and xylitol and some of the other suggested sweeteners for diabetics does not raise blood sugar levels.
    Thank you.

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      1. Jessie

        That was auto-correct. I meant to say preemptive.

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    1. Jocelyn Watkins

      The best scientific proof is to do your own experiments with a blood test kit.
      Fasting Blood Sugar is usually measured first thing in the morning before you have eaten any food. A normal fasting blood sugar ( also the blood sugar a normal person will see if they’ve not eaten for a few hours) is: Between 70 and 92) Although my doctor is happy with 100 or under.

      The problem is people may still produce a normal fasting glucose, but after a meal their sugars could be rising up and over the 200 and even the conservative American Diabetes Association has identified these high readings as being where serious diabetic complications begin to develop.

      So, what you want to track is: your blood sugar after you’ve eaten.
      Independent of what they eat, the blood sugar of a normal person is: under 120 one or two hours after a meal. And most normal people are under 100 two hours after eating.

      Additionally, research showed; people whose blood sugar was over 155 an hour after eating, and who had markers for metabolic syndrome–such as a concentration of fat around the belly and/or high blood pressure were more accurately predicted to develop diabetes.

      So test after every meal for awhile and discover what you can and can not eat-
      1 hour after eating your blood sugar should not exceed 140.
      1 1/2 hours after eating your blood sugar should not exceed 140.
      2 hours after eating your blood sugar should return to under 120 or under (preferably 100).
      Keep a food and blood sugar journal.

      Every body is different. Some can tolerate 5 strawberries but not 6. This is how to learn and correct your own metabolism. After a while you’ll know what you can eat (and what to avoid) and you don’t have to test any more.

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  20. Lynne

    Thank you for your clarifications. I think what can be further clarified is that there is “healthy” eating versus “weight loss” eating. Dates can be part of a healthy diet- any many nutrition experts recommend such “whole food” sources for better nutrition. However, especially for those who are trying to lose weight or who are diabetic or who are high on the susceptibility scale, these foods are strong trigger foods and can wreak havoc on weight loss efforts.
    Many of us can be confused by health care experts comments on what is ok to eat and provide recipes including these trigger foods. This is why I appreciate your up front and science-backed comments for those of us in the ongoing, constant and frustrated struggle to lose weight and get our best individualized health.

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  21. Theresa

    From day one of the boot camp I have had Ezekiel bread for breakfast. But I am 5 on the succeptibility scale. I can imagine it would not be so easy for someone that was higher.

    The other that has always irritated me is people who think that coconut sugar isn’t sugar. I’ve personally witnessed this at a local gluten free bakery. Because she uses that in her dairy free items she says its sugar free. It’s so not. Sugar is sugar regardless of how you dress it up.

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  22. Sue G

    Hi I understand that there is a lot of sugar in fruits so how does tis differ from adding a small amount of stevia?

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    1. Rory

      I have this question as well. If anything sweet triggers this response, what about fruit…especially fruit like bananas?

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  23. Helen Northcott

    Hi I heard you mention how the tongue and mouth respond to sugar and sends signals. What kind of signals are sent when people eat hot spicy food. What do the hot spices do to the delicate nerve endings in the mouth and then in the body?

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  24. Gary

    Roundup is sprayed on the crops in the fall to kill it so it will dry up faster for harvesting. But it kills the germ most of the time. If it kills the germ there can’t be many nutrients left in it. If they are going to use it for seed they won’t spray it with Round Up.

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  25. Caren

    So Susan you are essentially saying sweeteners like stevia and truvia is just as bad for the body and will slow down weight loss as well as trigger the body to produce insulin?

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  26. Stefi

    So well explained Susan!!! As I see it & lived, over consumption of sugar & fructose corn syrup in cola, I feel the more a person has done it the higher the risk for diabetes even by the mere sensation /stimulation response – wow! You’re saving people in so many ways with this explanation. THANK YOU !!

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  27. Anthony Pearce

    Are there other ‘sugars’ other than those that are added to sweeten foods.?
    Glucosamine is a sugar plus an amine…a little bit useful for those with joint issues.
    One mistake that has been made the calling of table sucrose as ‘sugar’. This causes health problems, and then all sugars get lobbed in with the bad one.
    Just as ‘oils aint oils’ , ‘all sugars are not sucrose’.

    A simple mineral deficiency (easy with the SAD diet) will slow (or even prevent) glucose from being properly utilised by the body or from being converted to other useful products, such as glucosamine.

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  28. Beverly Sturm

    Please help me to loose weight!

    Reply ·
    1. Stefi

      Dear Beverly , you can start by eliminating flour & sugar as BLE does. It takes a while but can be done! Add in lots of green leafy veggies & omega 3 foods & supplements + a good quality multivitamin to start. Drink filtered water daily 6-8 glasses . Ease off as much as possible also other typical food sensitive/allergens to maximize results & FIRST get your thyroid function checked INCLUDING seeing if you have thyroid ANTIBODIES as this will cause you to need supplementing thyroid hormone while you heal your gut health so that your body can release weight at which later time you can see about other means/thyroid meds you can use or taper off of if you wish.
      BEST OF LUCK!! I’m in this boat & have lost 20lbs so far 🙂

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      1. Deb

        What do you use to filter your water?

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  29. Beverly Sturm

    Help me please to lose weight. Thank you.

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  30. Judith Dobkins

    This is especially true if they are low in iodine, as mos people are! In fact the poisons to the thyroid gland are practically ubiquitous in our modern world: Chlorine,fluorine, and bromine (think bromated flour). So, back to soy, it is highly goitrogenic! As far as the organically grown sprouted wheat in Ezekial bakery products, they usually also contain a hefty dose of wheat gluten (read the label) which causes inflammation in sensitive individuals. Also, I am not sure if the gluten used in their products is organic,’which brings us back to the high doses of glyphosate used, not only in the growing process, but just prior to harvest the crop is heavily dosed with Round-Up to increase yields. Because the wheat things it is dying from this poison (which it is) it puts out a huge last ditch effort to form even more wheat berries so its chances of genetic survival are maximized . This maximizes the farmer”s profits, but also maximizes the amount of glyphosate poison we end up iingesting es.

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  31. Linda Broesamle

    Thank you for being hard-line about the gray areas of stevia, etcetera. When YOU say it, I can now, FINALLY, believe it! You are really helping me to face hard realities for the first time. Please keep up ALL the great work!

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  32. Bud Thompson

    Being a hearing impaired person.. I think I understood that even so called “acceptable” sweeteners trigger a response to produce insulin is that right? I drink smoothies for breakfast with raw fruits, vegetables, things like hemp oil, flax..Organic plant based protein powder (not vegan) etc . I do use bananas, blueberries , raw apples to make it sweet. It fills me but in a few hours I’m hungry again. What do you think about cheat day one day / week?

    Bud – Sacramento, CA

    Reply ·
    1. Stefi

      Hi Bud, I found that fruits particularly citrus I need after 2months being away from it. (Helps my adrenals)Low glycemic fruit probably is best if eaten infrequently & DEFINATELY if goal weight has been obtained but not during weight loss .

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  33. Judith Dobkins

    People who are “sensitive to soy” as you say, are probably reacting to two things:
    Most soy, unless certified organically grown, are genetically modified to withstand high doses of glyphosate (Monsanto’s product known as Round-Up). This is true for most wheat and corn as well.
    Besides recently being classified by the World Health Organization as a probable carcinogen, glyphosate destroys gut bacteria and is basically a bio-poison, meaning, despite what Monsanto claims, is toxic to lifeforms up and down the food chain. That brings me to my second point: A lot of people who are overweight are suffering from hypothyroidism, either clinical or sub-clinical. Poisons are murder to an already underfunctioning thyroid gland which makes for a more sluggish metabolism. Besides that, certain foods in themselves are goitrogenic (cause goiters ters due to the presence of substances which impair normal thyroid function. This is especially true if

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    1. Klara LeVine

      Judith, your reply is very thoughtful, but it sounds like it wasn’t finished. Would love to hear the rest.

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      1. Klara LeVine

        oops, see it’s further down sorry

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    2. Peter

      Thank you for the information regarding sugars. I am not sure if I missed something but it sounds like honey is out also.

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    3. Hilary Conway

      Very thoughtful answer on the effects of insulin and the additional effects of eating something sweet. I am a nutritional therapist and I think it is important to mention that not all sugars are regulated by the insulin pathway, specifically fructose or sweeteners that contain a lot of fructose like agave, for example, This type of sugar goes straight to the liver, which causes other problems, of which the worst is non-alcoholic fatty liver.

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    4. merita

      I understand from a whole food authority that the new “Monkfruit sweetner soley distributed by and called ‘Lakanto’ sugar does not raise your insulin and is 0 calories but yet from a natural plant. How can this be?
      Can you check into it and address it on a VLOG or email me? Body Ecology website endorses and sells it and she is a nutritionist and gut guru. How could it not effect the insulin which gets signals from the brain. Sounds too good to be true and yet I bought it before hearing you.
      Thanks for your response in advance.

      Reply ·
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