I feel the need to dispel one of the biggest myths about LCHF (low carb, high fat) diets after reading the latest article about the new book Don’t Quit Sugar.
This book is a direct attack on Sarah Wilson’s I Quit Sugar, and the author claims that she is simply saying “that natural sources of sugar—fruit, honey, sweet root vegetables —need to be incorporated into the diet.” Firstly, Sarah Wilson does not even advocate a diet without natural sugars. In fact, she eats raw honey and fruit and uses other natural sweeteners.
But, this nutritionist also said, “Sugar is our cells’ preferred source of energy and is absolutely critical to proper metabolic function. Eliminating it from the diet will do you harm.” This is the common myth I want to dispel.
Before I do, let me just say that I too consume small amounts of natural sugars. I love my fruit with large dollops of whipped cream. I use stevia regularly (although this doesn’t count as a sugar because it doesn’t act like a sugar in the body).
However, it is a huge myth that sugar, in any form, is essential. It is a myth that sugar is our cells preferred energy source. It is a also myth that we need to consume glucose for good brain function.
Firstly, our body’s preferred energy source is fat. We are natural fat burners. We only resort to sugar burning when we consume too much of it, and our body becomes acidic. Our body sees this as a health crisis, so it tries to burn the sugar to get rid of it. Unfortunately, these days, we keep dumping more and more in, so it never has a chance to get out of the sugar burning state.
Secondly, when we do consume a more natural diet, low in sugars and carbs and high in fats, fatty acids are converted into ketones, which cells also love using as an energy source, particularly the brain. In fact, the brain’s preferred energy source is a mixture of glucose and ketones. A brain running on glucose alone is running sub-optimally!
But yes, you read that right, I did say ‘glucose’ too. Even though I don’t advocate a no carbohydrate diet, those including no carbohydrates in their diet, like the Inuit back in the day, still supplied glucose to their brain. In this situation, the liver converts amino acids to glucose.
There is only one situation where we will NOT get glucose to our brain. And that is when we eat too much sugar! Eventually, once insulin resistance is bad enough, it is increases our risk of no longer being able to supply glucose to brain cells and they can start to die (Alzheimer’s). This is why Alzheimer’s is now often referred to as Type 3 diabetes.
But even in this situation, it has been shown in the literature that if the brain is offered another fuel source, cell function can start improving again. The other fuel source the brain can use is ketones! Ketones can be produced either with a ketogenic diet (low carb, high fat diet that is very strict in carbs) or with coconut oil (which stimulates the production of ketones), or even better, with both.
Sugar is in no way an essential part of our diet.
Note: The pic is a chocolate flan from The Fat Revolution Cookbook, which is a LCHF (low carb, high fat) cookbook, perfect for families and for those who don’t need to be super low in carbs. If you are looking for strict keto recipes (no root vegetables, fruit, nuts etc), use the Easy Keto Cookbook.
I agree with you about fats the preferred metabolic pathway for long term survival and glucose just for the ‘instant hit’ situations. I have a science and health science background. In fact I really go one step further and believe that in our short evolutionary time frame, we have not evolved to eat grain crops or drink other mammals’ milk. We survived a cave man climate ( or wandering the deserts) feeding off stored fat ( and therefore ketones). It’s just that some have the genetic lottery/ predisposition to tolerate (e.g) sugar, wheat and dairy, but this tolerance can easily be overridden. Babies on breast milk get their growth from the fats in the milk and their bacterial gut flora. Primitive and nomadic cultures usually ferment their animals’ milk and this is their food. Sugars are usually derived from seasonal fruit and berries and are full of antioxidants Just check out our dentition. Teeth are for nipping off, tearing and munching – not grinding – and we don’t have several stomachs!
For over 45 years, I have travelled in the countries far north of the equator, the tropics , the middle east and Asia. I have a very sensitive gut, but the peasant diet has never worried me and I have always lost some weight and been healthy. But once I resumed so called ‘western food’, all sorts of problems started up. The last years back home have delivered nearly all the typical life style diseases – until the last couple of months. I guess the new trend is now the ‘paleo’ diet, but the fats theory has to eventually win out.
If marooned on an island, you can survive on fish/shell fish and coconuts, or mutton birds or nuts and roots and tubers. I find our traditional indigenous nomadic diet very interesting as much of their protein was very fatty: goanna, emu,dugong, croc. Emu oil is full of EFAs. Starches were from roots and tubers and seeds. Honey was a rare treat. Their bodies were lean and tough, but they had enough body fat to maintain a woman’s fertility. In the absence of Europeans and through their bush medicine, they were healthy. Look what flour and sugar has done to them! Maintain your courage against the opposition. I know some enlightened GPs are discovering the high degree of autoimmune disease, baby food intolerances and chronic disease such as NIDDM is just not responding to all the accepted dietary practice unless accompanied by a massive regime of drugs. Look at how many live on the statins, anti-inflammatory drugs , anti hypertensives. I really believe it is not obesity causing inflammation , but the reverse – inflammation causing the chronic disease ( and obesity) – and that inflammation stemming from the lymphatics around the gut.
It is interesting that at the same time we went metric, the size of service station lolly/chocolate bars decreased and the concept of ‘2 for one’ or ‘25% more’ was flogged and they became like supermarkets. About the same time supermarkets gave at least one third of its food aisles to soft drink, chips, confectionary, biscuits and package cereals. Raw oats packets can hardly be seen on the shelf.
I have just been diagnosed ( by a gastroenterologist) as coeliac * and lactose* intolerant and must be on a low FODMAP diet, so it is a new world of food for me. It is a brutal wake up to see how the multinationals dominate the food halls. But the changeover has been miraculous for my body and blood tests. The clock has gone back 20 years! Fortunately I remain a sceptic and always research whatever is prescribed unless it makes absolute scientific sense and so have avoided being over medicated until the real culprit ** was found and I had a couple of cluey doctors.
Keep up delivering your message. Sorry to ramble on.
Just common sense really. Thanks Christine for a great post.
Is this why Alzheimer’s is so rampant and why coconut oil is reversing it , I think so
Yes, right on the money!
Wow your information is very informative and l desperately need to change my diet and with reading everything off your site lm feeling motivated to start eliminating sugar , flour and margarine instantly from my diet ! L have hear disease and have had coronary double bypass 4 years ago at 49 years old and currently being pumped full of statins, and other drugs to try and slow the progression of my disease – silly silly me been to busy following the heart foundation guidelines
I have medically induced hypothyroidism for the rest of my life after having Graves disease. The doctors idea of a cure was radioactive iodine treatment which often results in permanent hypothyroidism. IQS (thanks Sarah Wilson) in June 2013 (with a few blowouts) and replaced sugar with bread (addicted to sourdough). I have now almost conquered the grains. Got rid of the additives, bad oils and packaged foods from the pantry. I lost 5 kg and didn’t consider myself to be overweight but had belly flab and back fat. Today I will start “The Fat Revolution’ way of eating. It will be interesting to see if my lengthy list of symptoms disappear. Thanks Christine and Sarah, you are wonderful.
I am 42 and have lived my whole life being told that our diets should be low fat, until about 7 years ago when my father introduced me to the wonders of coconut oil, and from then I have never looked back in my research and understanding of fatty acids and the truth about saturated fats. I am so pleased to be finding that more and more people are becoming awakened in their drive to be drug free and kick the government driven drug industry and medical industry (all corporate greedy money makers) providing the public with dis-information. I am slickened to think that I spent thousands of dollars learning to become a nutritionist to find that so much of what I was taught has been just a propoganda tool. The food pyramid for example (I’m a former Science, Health and Food Technology teacher) and had to teach secondary school kids the very opposite to what is the truth about our diets and health. I can longer teach in that environment, but am acutely aware that there are so many young minds still being taught the same rubbish about healthy whole grains and glucose needed for the brain. I remember being taught at uni that producing too many ketones in ones body was bad for us and not to eat too much protein and fat intake should be low and definitely unsaturated, especially MUFA’s.
For me now it’s how do I reach out to the public to teach them the right way, the primitive way being the correct way to eat. I am really happy to have found your book Christine with all those fantastic references to go to. My next learning pathway is as a Holistic Nutritionist(to gain credentials) and then to facilitate group sessions to help mature adults get off the drugs. Hopefully then we’ll be able to enlighten the younger generation. by the way, I have struggled with an autoimmune disorder (Fibromyalgia) for the past 6 years, that I know of, and have wondered of my healthy diet that I was taught to adhere to has had anything to do with my condition (that has no cure at this time). Anyone have any ideas on this, I’d be grateful as I know so many others with my condition.
Yes, our Western diets absolutely cause Fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue, and many other ailments. I know the doctors say there is no cure, but LCHF (low carb, high fat) offers fantastic nutrition for these types of disorders and does promote healing. Also, one of the most important things to do is correct pH. This ebook explains why imbalanced pH (from our Western diet) causes autoimmune diseases, including Fibromyalgia, and how to balance the pH again. https://christinecronau.com/ph/
I Had a great uncle ,who recently died. He was in a concentration camp as a young man for several years.
My uncle showed me pictures taken in the camp of his fellow P.O.W and himself. He was fat, they were all overweight, this surprised me as he said they did go hungry. His answer was that they lived on a diet of gruel, similar to porridge with low protein, no fat. He also said their teeth started to come loose and they had many health problem. He recovered after returning to his country and was never fat again,,,,,,this made me think of your saying ” what do they feed stock to make the gain weight” grains
Wow, what a great story Beverly, do you mind if I use it in one of my books?
Christine you often mention getting our PH back to an alkaline state I have added lemons and limes to my daily water intake have cut coffee, alcohol etc eat small amounts of pineapple, drink Kombucha, eating fermented veggies now too but still my urine is acidic what else can I do ? How long can it take? I was diagnosed HPylori 8 was ago since then started LCHF no sugars or grains at all. I was very worried about Alzheimer’s eyc both my parents have died on their 60s my grandparents in their 90s so I agree with the “this generation dying earlier than their parents” I have started taking 2 tbsp a coconut oil daily in addition to cooking with it