Saccharides, the Specific Carbohydrate Diet, and the Meaning of Sugar-Free

I got a comment nearly two weeks ago on my sugar-free meringue recipe, saying that it is not sugar-free because honey is also sugar:

this is not sugar-free!! Honey is also sugar…Sugar is more than sucrorse (glu-fru)
Honey contains 40% fructose and 30% glucose -> so certainly not a sugar free recipe

This isn’t the first time I’ve received comments/queries about this. I responded:

This recipe is refined sugar-free, i.e. granulated sugar. That’s what sugar-free usually means in recipes. Please refer to Elaine Gottschall’s book Breaking the Vicious Cycle, in which she explains the different forms of sugar. Honey is a monosaccharide or single cell sugar. To be technically sugar-free means using no form of sweetener at all, including fruit since all fruit has naturally occurring sugars and no starches as well because they convert to complex sugar, which is why they’re forbidden on the SCD. I hope that this addresses your concern.

In this post, I wish to expand a little on my comment. If you’re a longtime and regular reader of Z’s Cup of Tea, you’ll know that I use honey a lot in my recipes, whether they are ones I’ve created or adapted from other sources. I label these recipes as sugar-free, as by definition of majority “sugar-free” usually means being made without refined sugar, just as the labeling on a food item’s packaging at a grocery store would indicate, and then one would read the label to see if there were any other sweetener as a substitute, and if so, what was used. Other sweeteners such as honey, agave nectar, tapioca syrup, etc., are known as “alternative sweeteners”, as the food industry identifies them that way, which is why most people are used to reading the packaging to discern what specifically is being used in order to identify whether or not they will decide to purchase it. All of these alternatives to refined sugar are still sugar, yes: but what makes them different from refined sugar are their cell structures.

If we were to be technically correct, if one was to be truly sugar-free, that would extend to avoiding fruit since all fruit has naturally occurring sugars. Starches would also have to be included in this abstinence from sugar as they convert to complex sugar, which, as I mentioned in my comment, is why it’s forbidden on the Specific Carbohydrate Diet. All of this is explained and laid out in Breaking the Vicious Cycle by Elaine Gottschall.

Honey is unique from most alternative sweeteners in that it is single-celled, or a monosaccharide: it is a simple sugar. Other sweeteners are either disaccharides or polysaccharides. Refined sugar is a disaccharide, or two-celled sugar. (Polysaccharides, multiple-celled sugar, are also what comprises starches, including wheat.) Because of this unique status, honey is the only allowed sweetener on the Specific Carbohydrate Diet (SCD): a diet that only allows simple, specific carbohydrates and it is similar to the paleo or caveman diet. The introduction of Breaking the Vicious Cycle, the book that explains the SCD, explains how the body digests these various forms of sugar. Since honey is a monosaccharide, it is the easiest for the body to break down and digest.

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Oil Pulling with Coconut Oil

Oil Pulling Therapy: Detoxifying and Healing the Body Through Oral Cleansing  (image via

Have you heard of oil pulling? It’s an ancient practice found in Ayurvedic medicine that flushes out toxins from the body by cleaning out bacteria found in the mouth. The philosophy behind it is that all disease starts in the mouth. You swish a spoonful of oil in your mouth for fifteen to twenty minutes once a day, in the morning, then spit it out. You don’t eat it or swallow it.

I first heard of oil pulling in an email that was sent to me by my Mum, but it wasn’t until some time went by that I actually decided to give it a try in mid-December last year after I did some further online research. I’ve been oil pulling now for a little over two months and I’m happy to report I’ve had positive results from doing it. The first noticeable thing was that my teeth became whiter (this is one of the first signs that many people experience during the initial stages of oil pulling). I continued to experience improvements, including clearer skin.

If you do a quick Google search, you’ll find all kinds of success stories and testimonials from people who have done oil pulling and their various (sometimes multiple) ailments vanishing that they’d had for years – asthma, diabetes, chronic congestion, sinus problems, arthritis, rheumatism, skin conditions, etc. –  some since childhood. (For women in particular, PMS symptoms including cramps and skin breakouts have gone away or have drastically been reduced with oil pulling. Myself, I have had improvement in this area also.) If you’re looking for an informative resource about oil pulling, instead of doing online research or in addition to, look no further than Oil Pulling Therapy by Bruce Fife.

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Autism: The Brain-Gut Connection (LIVE, FREE WEBINAR)

On April 11th at 9PM EST / 8 PM CST / 6PM PST you can attend a FREE webinar sponsored by Great Plains Laboratory: Gastrointestinal Problems and Autism: Constipation, Infections, Inflammation and More – Testing and Treatment Options, presented by Dr. Kurt Woeller.

Autism is a continuing epidemic, with a 78% increase compared to a decade ago. Yesterday according to a new study, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that 1 in 88 children in the United States has been identified as having an autism spectrum disorder (ASD).

The link between autism and gastrointestinal disorders is one that has been well-documented in the autism community. Often, once diet is changed the improvement is extraordinary. My family has personally experienced this with my youngest brother, who has remarkably improved from his autism with diet (briefly GFCF [gluten-free, casein-free], then strictly SCD for a year; we are currently gluten-free) and biomedical vitamin and mineral protocols. (That’s just diet, for a full summary of what we did to help him, click here.) Nowadays when people meet him, they can’t believe it when they learn he used to have severe autism. Through our hard work and his, he has improved so much!

System requirements to attend the webinar –

For PC users: Windows 7, Vista, XP, or 2003 Server.

For Mac users: Mac OSX 10.4.11 (Tiger) or newer

This webinar is a one-time only live event and will not be recorded, so if you are interested in attending book your seat now and mark your calendar! Again, it is absolutely free.

Click here to register.