Monday, November 16, 2009

Why We Avoid Sugar and Minimize Flour

You may have noticed that sugar is not often found in my recipes. I thought that I should elaborate on why we don’t use sugar or much flour.

Sugar and flour are foods we do our best to avoid or minimize when possible. Neither my husband nor I are diabetic, nor do we have high glucose readings. We avoid sugar and flour for entirely different reasons. Sugar is verboten in our house because sugar feeds cancer. If you haven’t known anyone that has gotten a PET scan this works by adding a material to a glucose solution that can be imagined. The glucose solution is used because cancer will immediately feed on the sugar promoting its growth and spread and making it able to be imagined.

A German biologist (Otto Warburg) was awarded the Nobel Prize for his discovery that the metabolism of malignant tumors depends on glucose consumption. Glucose is what sugar becomes in the body after you consume it. When we eat foods that have high on the glycemic index our blood glucose levels increase rapidly as all diabetics know. When glucose raises the body releases IGF (insulin like growth factor) that stimulates healthy and unhealthy cells to grow. Scientists are working on new medicines to fight cancer that will reduce spiking insulin and IGF.

Since DNA is mutating in all of our bodies everyday and creating cancer or precancerous cells we have the ability to feed our bodies food that will fight or promote the disease. My husband and I have chosen to consume the healthiest diet possible to fight the disease. We both feel that an optimally nourished body is better able to fight all disease.

Additionally, consuming sugar promotes Advanced Glycation End Products (AGE’s) that have a negative effect on the body and result in an increase in age related chronic diseases. I prefer to reduce our exposure to this negative chemical reaction when possible. Sugar may taste good but in my opinion it isn’t worth the risk of promoting cancer to grow and increasing your risk of age related disease.

This doesn’t mean that we never eat food that tastes good as many or our friends think. We have found that the longer we stay away from sugar the less we crave it and the sweeter other naturally sweet food (like fruit) tastes to us. Sometimes I need to use a little sweetener to make the food taste right and then I use either stevia or agave depending on what I am cooking.

If you are going to eat something with sugar or flour you shouldn’t eat it between meals, but with other foods. Consuming food with a high glycemic index with low glycemic index foods slows the speed at which the body can process the sugar thereby reducing the insulin spikes and release of IGF.

I hope you find this information useful. I decided to write this to make certain that all of you know the pitfalls of consuming sugar and flour as I understand them. I am not trying to imply that our diet is perfect since it is far from it. We do eat pasta and bread but try to consume them as infrequently as possible without making ourselves nuts. There are always changes we can make to eat a healthier diet. Over time I find that our dietary choices are improving. I hope the same thing happens with all of you.


I was asked why flour was included in this post and realized that I should have given more background information.

Flour, both white and whole wheat, is a highly processed food. It has been mechanically pulverized into tiny particles almost the size of dust. Think of the size of wheat berries compared to flour. When you consume wheat berries they are somewhat hard and you need to spend a good bit of time to chew them to begin the digestion process. Flour is in essence mechanically predigested so that you need to do no more than swallow it and when it gets into your stomach it is a smaller food particle than the chewed wheat berries. Due to its size flour is easily digested by the stomach acid and therefore more quickly causes your blood glucose and IGF to increase.

The media tries to make whole grain flour sound like it is a health food but that really isn't the case. It is better than white flour, but it is still not what I call a health food to be consumed every day let alone at every meal like most Americans serve it.

All Italians have a fondness for flour products, particularly pasta. It has been very hard for me to reduce our whole wheat pasta consumption. This is a notion I fought for a lot of years. I have finally come to the conclusion that it is best for our health. For me it is easier to minimize it when I know the negative health impact.

If you have any questions about this post please comment so I can try to elaborate. I hope you are all having a great day.


  1. This is great information, however I'm not sure I understand the flour connection. I assume you're referring to white flour which also has a high glycemic index? If not, how does flour tie in? I'm particularly interested in whole wheat flour, and other non-wheat flours.


  2. PaganAngel,

    Flour, in all forms, is a highly processed food and therefore causes blood sugar to spike more than the whole foods version like wheat berries. Whole grain flours are a little better than white, but not a lot better in terms of the impact on blood glucose and IGF.

    My understanding is that because flour is so finely ground it is in a way "predigested" so the body doesn't need to do much in terms of processing to absorb it.

    I am part Italian so cutting back on whole wheat pasta has been really tough for me (more than the hubby). I try to keep our consumption to three servings of whole grain flour products a week to minimize the negative blood sugar impact. We don't always hold it to three servings, but that is the goal.

    Please let me know if I need to beef up the explanation a little more.

    thanks for the feedback and sorry I wasn't clear initially,

  3. Alicia,

    Regarding flour, what about non-wheat flours? I don't know if you have a pasta maker, but barley and buckwheat flours (at least from arrowhead mills) have significantly more fiber than whole wheat flour. Rye is higher too. They should keep your blood sugar down more so than whole wheat. Also, you could mix in a bean derived flour. I wouldn't want to make cookies out of them, though.

  4. And THAT is why I love your blog and recipes so much :-) I too avoid flour and refined sugar in my diet, and I so appreciate your recipes for that reason!


  5. Doc,

    Of course I have a pasta maker. Doesn't every Italian?

    I agree the legume flours are better than the wheat flours. I have tried to play around with ceci flour (garbanzo) in my pasta. It was little difficult to work with. I haven't quite found the majic formula yet, but I am still working on it.

    I have been making flour in my Vitamix for a few years. Have you tried this yet? The vitamix makes very quick work of it.

    I think I have seen an Italian cookie made with ceci flour, now that you mentioned it. I will double check on that. Something tells me the hubby just wouldn't think it was the same as a flour cookie. :)

    thanks for the suggestions,

  6. I want a Vitamix very badly, but we don't have enough room and it would put a big dent in my bank account.

  7. Doc,

    I looked at the Vitamix for years and didn't want to spend the money. All I could think was how could a blender be worth that much money. Well it is. I use it everyday, two or three times a day. It is used more often than my stove if you can imagine. Both the hubby and I decided if it ever breaks we need to get another one immediately.

    We bought our Vitamix at Costco and I think it was about $150 less there at the time. They don't have them in the store all the time but may have them on-line if you want to look into it.

    As you can tell I am quite the fan of vitamix. If you have any questions about them let me know. I have had mine for about 4 years now and still love it.


  8. Thank you for such helpful information! I always have low blood sugar so I think a little bit of raw sugar in my coffee once a day should be alright. Other than that I've been trying to avoid sugar in cooking, if I need sugar I would use brown sugar or agave syrup, thanks for reminding:)

  9. Oraphan,

    Both Dan and I have low blood sugar like you. In the past we used a half packet of raw sugar in our coffee but not any more. Even though our blood sugar is low I don't feel it is worth the risk to our health. Eating high fiber food when you consume sugar helps to reduce the impact of sugar on your body.

    Brown sugar is white sugar that has had molasses added to it to make it brown. The dark brown had more molasses added than the white. Agave is a lower glycemic sweetener, but it is still a form of sugar so I try to use it as minimally as possible.

    As my husband is quick to point out my views on health and nutrition are extreme compared to most Americans. However, I wrote this post so that everyone that read it would think about the impact of sugar and flour on their health. I do honestly feel that both (sugar and flour) are best to minimize to whatever extent possible. If I could I would eliminate all flour from our diet. However, I know my limitations and flour is just not something I am ready to completely forgo. Hopefully one day that will happen, but I can't do it now so I do what I can.


  10. Thank you Alicia, for pointing that out for me! My husband always tells me not to put sugar in my coffee and I just can't help it. I totally agree with you to minimize sugar and flour from our diet as much as possible and I've been trying to.

  11. Oraphan,

    I am so happy to hear you are going to cut back on the sugar! You made my day. :)

    My husband had a hard time giving up sugar. First he switched from raw sugar to agave, then reduced the agave until he could eliminate it. Now he has given up coffee too. We find the teeccino or roasted barley tea are both acceptable substitutes for coffee that aren't bitter like cofffee so they are easy to drink black. You might want to try that.


  12. Thanks for elaborating! In the last month, I've been trying to cut down the amount of wheat in my diet (as all of it comes from flour-forms). I was doing it more to diversify--I wouldn't eat carrots as one of my only vegetables, so why eat wheat as one of my only starches? This is interesting, and I'm hearing more about wheatberries, I'll have to try them soon.

    On a related note--I've been surprised you eat polenta. Is this much better than white flour (or at least white rice)? The nutritional profile seems pretty low.

  13. PaganAngel,

    Interesting comparison on the carrots. I wouldn't have thought of it that way, but what a great way to look at it.

    Wheatberries are great in vegetarian chili, or in a cold salad (like rice).

    Polenta is a very Italian thing. It is comfort food for me. I like to change the carbs we eat. I buy the coarse grind polenta on the theory it is a lower GI due to the size.

    We eat a variety of carbs (millet, quinoa, amaranth, wheat, brown rice, wild rice, teff, polenta and barley). Brown rice is probably the most common carb at our house followed by millet. I think as long as you don't eat the same thing all the time it leads to a more balanced diet.



Related Posts with Thumbnails