Most scientists believe that sugar is addictive. It releases opioids and dopamine, so expect some symptoms of sugar withdrawal. However, you may have other issues that can cause problems when you give up sugar. Those include a potential fungal problem too! It’s amazing, but some estimates say there are ten times as many non-human cells in each person’s body as there are human ones. So you can imagine how changing the balance of these microbes can affect your body.
You’re not the only one that loves sugar.
Some fungi—such as yeast—may thrive on sugar. So when you give up sugar, you’re no only having withdrawal, you’re killing off yeast. That also can create symptoms. Major changes to your diet that include elimination of processed foods or a boost in probiotics can initially set off problems. You’re disrupting the growth of pathogens like candida by starving them to death or battling them with good bacteria.
You may experience some of the following symptoms of sugar withdrawal.
Of course, craving sugar, and even binge eating, will probably be at the top of your list. There are other symptoms you might recognize, too. Anxiety, headaches, depression, lightheadedness, irritability, exhaustion or tiredness and aches and pains in your muscles can be part of the withdrawal symptoms. If you’re experiencing die-off, scientifically known as the Herxheimer reaction that comes from the toxins created by dying microbes, such as candida, you may have even more symptoms for about a week. These include muscle aches, chills fever, brain fog, elimination problems—diarrhea or constipation, skin rashes and even chills and fever. Needless to say, you probably won’t feel great for three to seven days after a big change in your diet.
The actual withdrawal symptoms may last longer than just a week.
While the “die-off” of unhealthy microbes may create a problem the first week, the actual withdrawal symptoms may last a bit longer. Be prepared for the first week to be the roughest, however. Symptoms will suddenly rise like a wave and then disappear. You’ll notice most of them will go away, returning occasionally for the first month or two of a sugar free, low carb diet. You might even see an onslaught of symptoms at first, which reduce or go away as each day passes. Expect to get cranky. Your body wants the fix and so do the many microbes that feed on sugar.
- When you’re giving up sugar, it may be easier to do it slowly. Start with actual sugar products, like candy and table sugar.
- Give up processed foods as step two on your sugar free list. Processed foods are not only loaded with sugar, they contain fewer nutrients.
- Make sure you stay hydrated. Drink water throughout the day and at least a full glass of water before your meals.
- Exercise can help you overcome the withdrawal. Increase your physical activity if you aren’t already exercising and don’t miss a workout session if you are.