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Sugar Allergy : More Likely an Intolerance

Some people think they have a sugar allergy. Confirming this type of allergy can be devastating since so many foods contain some form of sugar. It is almost as tragic as a caffeine allergy for those who can not function without that first cup of coffee in the morning. Food allergies can be confused with food intolerance so it is important to know which you have. Some of the symptoms associated with an allergic reaction can occur but there is a good chance they are caused by an intolerance of refined sugar.

For many generations, parents believed that too much sugar caused their children to be hyperactive. While science has found no link between an over active child and the amount of sugar they eat, they have determined that too much sugar is never good for children. Reasons for less sugar consumption include increased risk of cavities, obesity and the possibility of developing an intolerance for sugar.

An intolerance to sugar has been shown to cause a resistance to insulin as well as rapid weight gain if ingested in too large a quantity. It can also lead to fatigue, joint pain, forgetfulness and confusion. The thinking process may also be affected by reducing neurotransmitters leading some people to think that a true sugar allergy has caused this reaction.

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Restlessness and inattention may be signs of a sugar intolerance, often confused as a sugar allergy. This is especially true for school-age children but while sugar intake will need to be monitored, it is not considered a true sugar allergy. When the body develops an allergy to a certain food, it is confusing that food with an allergen. The immune system responds to attempt to eliminate the threat. While many foods cause an allergic reaction in many people, studies have not supported the confirmation of sugar allergy.

Many allergic symptoms may appear in a person with an intolerance to refined sugar. They should therefore stay away from it in all forms. Elimination diets are usually needed and recommended for determining whether you are truly allergic or intolerant. If you believe that it is sugar, eliminate all forms of added sugar for a period of time, at least one week Keep track of what forms of sugar are ingested. If you find that your symptoms are less then you know you are on the right path to pinpointing your intolerance.

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Since sugar is such a common ingredient it is important to keep a diary of all the foods you eat and to note the ingredients. An elimination diet can be pretty tricky for someone who has a sugar allergy or an intolerance to sugar. You definitely need the guidance a professional like an allergist or at the very least your primary care physician. With the proper testing and tracking of what you eat you may also be able to find substitutes like brown sugar and natural sweeteners that you may have less a reaction to.

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76 Responses to “Sugar Allergy : More Likely an Intolerance”

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  6. Faith says:

    I have always been told that I have an allergy to refined sugar. Did the whole elimination diet when I was a kid…’course that’s not ALL I am allergic to. Wheat, additives, preservatives, dyes, colorings…basically everything that makes food taste good…I can’t have. After many years…I was able to manage my diet by being able to consume wheat products, etc by consuming coffee…which counteracts some of the behaviour issues. I found that wheat actually gives me a wicked headache…and fruits just make me ill – natural sugars apparently affect me on a few levels…vomiting being one of them. Once I cut all wheat based bread products (bread, pasta, etc) out of diet…I felt 100% better. I stopped eating fruit as well…at least in the fresh variety. Dried fruits work out better for me…just have to make sure that no sugar is added. If it’s not noted on the package, you’re usually fine. I buy my dried fruits at a bulk food store and they list all the ingredients…a lot of consumers go there due to allergies, etc. Eating a whole apple may make me ill, this way I can have 1 or 2 pieces and there’s no waste. Ya know? These days there are tons of alternate products that do not cost an arm and a leg and your first born….not like 20 year ago. It’s nice to have pasta and not have to worry about my wheat allergy.

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  8. Dena says:

    I am trying to determine just what is fueling my symptoms, which have appeared to change over the years. My allergies used to just cause a sore throat and cold/sinus type symptoms, now I feel they cause a host of symptoms including headache all the time (many days with migrane with aura/visual snow) fatigue, oral neuralgia and extremity neuralgia (pins/needles in my lips, sensitivity pain in teeth, burning sensations in body, throbbing), tinnitis (w/throbbing pulse), dizziness, mind fog (feel intoxicated but haven’t been drinking), joint pain, fibromyalgia, sensitivity to cold (I chill a lot), acid reflux (intense), stomach pain, anxiety, and depression. It’s no wonder that when I went to a Neurology clinic they just refer me to a Psychiatry Clinic. I know that sugar is one of my allergies and/or intolerances. It fuels the throbbing/neuralgia symptoms. Even natural sugar (i.e. many fruits) are culprits. Apples are a no-no. I can tolerate kiwi and underripe pears and nectarines somewhat, or a bit of watermelon. I have tried to eliminate as much sugar as humanly possible, but my symptoms continue to get worse. I have also tried to eliminate wheat (gluten), and dairy (cassein), yeast, vinegar products, and alcohol. This leaves very little that I can eat. Vegetables, Meats (non-processed), Eggs, Rice. I try hard, but when I go with friends out to eat, you just don’t know what to order, and I know I have probably eaten what I shouldn’t – then the GUILT sets in because I’ve blown it. I was also told to avoid aspartame, so what the heck do I drink besides water – which by the way seems to tear my stomach up and starts up my throbbing/neuralgia symptoms. There is nothing else I should drink but water. I know I don’t drink enough – because it is awful to drink period. I had a severe migrane after drinking coffee, so I gave that up, too. This is no way to have to live, and so many issues. I’ve given up so much – but my symptoms continue to get worse. The Neurologist has ordered an MRI for me, and I have this on Thursday this week, but I do not feel it will show a thing. Have had all the blood work for everything done too – ruled out serious conditions such as vascular disease, Lyme disease, etc. Does anyone else out there share my symptoms, and have you had any success with finding things to help? I’m pretty desperate, and ready to quit trying. Would love to hear from anyone.

    • jane says:

      hi, dena – i know your post is old, but thought i’d try. i had many of the same symptoms. i found out that i have hypothyroidism. you might want to check into this, as some of your symptoms are hypothyroid symptoms. it weakened my gi system, so that i could only have a few foods without feeling awful. get a tsh, free t3, free t4, and thyroid antibodies – you must get all of them, or you may be told that everything’s fine (doctors just use the tsh test, and this often doesn’t show the whole picture). then do your research, so that you can interpret your test results (again, doctors don’t do that properly, so you need to do the work). i’m doing much better. i hope you will, too.

  9. Jessica says:

    I have been reading the responses on this website. I am so happy to see others go through these symptoms. I talk to a lot of people about this problem but no one understands. Since I was in high school, I thought my problem was salt. My sister-in-law told me to cut out all sugar two years ago. I did this and felt better in a day…after twenty years. I could gain up to ten pounds in one day if I ate both sugar and salt. I have been eating sugar again the last week and a half. I feel like I used to…awful. It is sugar. What hit me though through these posts, and made me want to respond is the comment made by Tanya, I go through the same thing…and I have told myself, it is not worth a day of being grumpy. It made me cry because I thought it was just me.

    Thank you Tanya, I am 33 and go through the exact same thing.

  10. Laura says:

    In my early 20’s I started noticing my body had a weird reaction when I ate large amounts of sugar in a short period of time; whole bag of Dove Milk Chocolate pieces, a large bag of Hershey Kisses. The next day my whole body would ache like I was beaten with a baseball bat, the glands at the base of my skull would ache and be tender to touch and my brain would be foggy, similar to how you might feel after taking really strong sinus medicine. Also I would be very thirsty and no amount of water would quench my thirst. After repeatedly asking my doctor about sugar allergies and being told that there is no such thing, I decided to just eliminate all forms of refinded sugar from my diet. I have never had these syptoms again except for the very rare occasion I fall off the wagon and binge on sugar.

  11. PM says:

    This is all very interesting. I have just put this together. Last night was New Years and we went to a friends house who made caipirinha’s for cocktails. These are Brazilian rum drinks made with Cachaca, which is a sugar cane liquor.

    Well needless to say after a few minutes of drinking this I turned flush red. My face was blotchy red and arms had hives all over. Then I got really sick. I chalked it up to just drinking too much but I know I have drank more before and not gotten sick.

    Then I remembered I was in Ecuador several years ago where we went to a sugar cane farm and picked sugar cane and chewed on the wood. Within minutes I fainted. Back then though I chalked that up to just being overtired in a foreign country.

    But last night’s experience just got me thinking and now know that there is a sugar cane allergy! I’m definitely going to get this checked of for sure.

  12. tracey wild says:

    i am looking into sugar intolerances for a friend, does any one know of any foods that can counteract too much sugar intake. i have heard red meat can help if you balance your diet properly, does any one else find this true and does any one have any other suggestions? any websites you have that can help my search would be kindly appreciated too. thank you.

  13. Tanya says:

    Hi there, I have had an intorolence to sugar for many years which affects my mood and makes me feel very tired and grumpy after eating sweet things like chocolate. I have found the best is homemade biscuts which I can tolerate because it does not have lots of additives and sugar. Wine is a big no no for me too. Honey I can tolerate because it is a natural source of sweetner. After having a cuppa tea with sugar in it I end up with a big headache. A good meal I have found is vegetarian lasanage. Made with chili beans, tin tomatoes in juice, broccoli, and leeks. Make a white sauce and put a layer of the tomatoes etc into a dish then a layer of white sauce, then pasta sheets, then carry on until there is two layers of pasta sheets, then top with some rest of white sauce, then some cheese. Cook for about 30 minutes. The tomato etc ingredients is cooked in a pot, but first putting some oil in the pot with garlic and onion then add the tomatoes, chilibeans and broccoli. Cook gently for about 10 minutes. Leek can also be added which is nice and any other kind of vegetables like cauliflower and pumpkin. Is nice with mashed potatoes and lettuce salad. Lettuce, with grated carrot and grated cheese. I find it is filling and keeps me in a good mood.

  14. Tabitha Lindquist says:

    I was told that I was allergic to sugars. If i eat ANYTHING that has more than 3g of any kind of sugar I get really ill. i get shaky, sick to my stomach, dizzy, cold sweats and REALLY tired.. I had thought that it was hypoglycemia but my average Levels are between 65-75 mg/dL and I only get ill after eating MOST foods… WHAT CAN I DO?? I am so tired all the time and sick of being sick and the 1 doctor said i was allergic and another said i was not diabetic or hypoglycemic.

  15. Diane says:

    What a wonderful supportive site! About a year ago I started going downhill with extreme fatigue, joint pain, and elevated depression/anxiety. I’ve struggled with depression and anxiety ever since I was a little one, so I just assumed it was a part of who I was and took the meds for it. It’s frustrating when your GP gives you a blank stare when you repeatedly visit and tell him you HURT but he has no answers and wants to prescribe even MORE meds for fibromyalgia. Well… to make a long story short I wasn’t going to accept the fibromyalgia thing and decided to see a naturopathic physician who also has a holistic nutritionist in her office. After a month with a good detox program and elimination diet, I am finally finding relief and suprise suprise my major intolerance is SUGAR. Kinda sucks, but I’d rather avoid sugar and feel better than to eat whatever I want and feel like crap. By cutting out the intolerances, I’ve been able to stop taking antidepressants and I truly feel better than I ever have. For people who are struggling with their sugar intolerance, please stay positive! Try not to dwell on ‘not being able to have sugar again’, instead focus on the fact that if we eat sugar, we will feel like crap so it’s important that we make the best choice available for where we are at, and that we do this for a better quality of life and for better health!

  16. stephanie says:

    Wow, what a relief to hear refine sugar allergy sufferers. Like many I don’t know many who have this problem. I have to admit mine is not as severe as some if your, I don’t get hives. I have had an arm rash such started 5 years ago, I will have to see if changes with what I eat. When I read the symptom list my first thought was, sounds like ADD….in fact I was diagnosed with ADD two.years ago….and the meds help for the most part with symptoms. Yet my stomach always hurts after I eat, I get high if I eat too much sugar, carbs put me to sleep…my boss wonders why it take me longer than others to get my paperwork done. Argh…I don’t have diabetes, no medical gluten problems, I KNOW I have lactose sensitivities..yet maybe it is a refined sugar problem. I have postnasal drip 365 days of the year…maybe a weeks reprieve within the year. I can’t do the allergy shots because my allergic said I would have an allergic response to It. Then told me he would either have the acute, hives swollen throat thing rather than my chronic reactive allergies. Anyone else have chronic allergies which dont go away? Got rid of my precious three cats since I was allergic, has reduced intensity Of my allergies. I hAve had a psychic tell me I was allergic to corn and another to refined sugar. Anyone know what type of doctor can check me out? Or a good book? Or a diet book to follow? Any help would be appreciated.

  17. Jessica A Kluth says:

    Wow, I am relieved I do not share the same symptoms, or as serious. I am glad I am not the only one to have this “intolerance.”

    My father has the sugar allergy “intolerance” whatever. The only reaction we get is “sugar bumps,” that’s what we call them. Quite literally a breakout of pimples similar to acne. Depending on the daily consumption of sugar, we can have a single breakout that same day and then a few more within a couple days, or just have the breakout within a couple of days.

    One day I had a huge thing of yogurt, it was delicious. I had added chocolate chips and whatnot to it. Within a week I had broken out with somewhat itchy “sugar bumps” on my back, shoulders, and behind my neck. It also occurs on my face.

    Anyways, I was lucky that I had a dad who could tell me what my problem was. He is much more disciplined than I. If he has more than one piece a fruit in a day, he breaks out, so he’s very strict with sugar in his diet.

    I take this sugar intolerance as a sign that my body, or blood, is sensitive to it and tries to be rid of it before it can cause harm. Fair enough I guess. I really don’t see any cure for it.

  18. Jessica A Kluth says:

    Oh, and I forgot to add that while I was in Basic Combat Training (BCT) commonly referred to as “boot camp,” we rarely ate or drank sugar. The only sugar we did have was stuff like Gatorade and breakfast in the morning. Normally when I consume sugar in water, it goes through the bloodstream much faster and I get pimples far quicker. However, my diet was also double the size of what I’d normally eat, so I assume that all of the physical exertion we went through had something to do with burning both the calories and sugar out. When I got out of basic training, my face was unnaturally clear of any pimples–I have never known a time when that was true. I’ve always had some sort of face pimple, even colorless and without pain or itch. It was amazing.

  19. Sharyn says:

    My 9-year-old son has suffered for more than a year from searing (sometimes crippling) headaches, burning rashes on his arms, concentration problems and a feeling of restlessness in his body. His homeopathic doctor who specialises in bioresonance therapy and health screening has found that he’s had a parasite in his body for nearly a year and that he has a food intolerance to sugar, cow’s milk, eggs, food coloring and food additives like MSG. He is currently under treatment for the parasite (probably ingested while eating raw meat or mushrooms) and has eliminated all of the abovementioned foods (plus chocolate, vanilla and cinnamon) from his diet. After three weeks we already notice a difference and he’s slimmed down quite a bit.

  20. kim lu says:

    Has anyone out there been cured I can’t have any sugars natural or fake
    i get swollen itchy feet and welts all over my body the inside of my ears and eyes itch too, I can’t loose weight I get health what can I do? I get depressed , sometimes I want to die . Please help me

  21. kim lu says:

    OK my mom thinks if we get ride of the parasites the we will all be cured
    Sharyn what cleaner did you use or pill?

  22. Kelly says:

    I just wanted to commit. I have had allergies for the past 15 yrs. They just started out of nowhere. I started with hives and they would get all over my body. It took ten years to figure out what it was. I had all kinds of allergy tests and nothing showed up. Like many others they treated me like I had mental problems. After buying books and talking to people the common thing between them was thyroid. I was having my thyroid tested during this time and it always showed normal but all of a sudden it finally showed up low. The doctor told me he believed I had hoshimotos disease from the thyroid. I dont have these hives except when my thyroid gets low and it is a reaction from gluten, sugar, dairy, etc. Not sure why it causes this and I dont think the doctors do either. It should be treated according to allergist with higher doses of thyroid for a month and then lower it back down. Problem now is thyroid doctor want hear of raising my thyroid medicine. It is an awful problem and I wish everyone the best at handling it. Hope all of you find an answer.

    • jane says:

      hi, kelly – you’ve just given me some more hope. i could eat practically nothing til i found out that i, too, have hashimoto’s hypothyroidism. i’ve started getting better, but have a ways to go, but my doctor, too, is verrrry hesitant to put my thyroid dose up. i’ve done a ton of reading on hypothyroidism, and this is a common occurrence, sadly. there’s no reason to suffer though, so the only thing we can do is find (and it’ll be hard, but it can be done) another doctor who’ll adjust you up. i would phone the nurse before you make an appointment to find out if the new doctor treats hypothyroidism’s symptoms or if she treats only according to the lab results. good luck to us all!!

      • jane says:

        and by the way, i did read (though i don’t know if this is true or not) that gluten is attacked by our bodies just like the thyroid is in hashi’s hypothyroidism (because it’s an autoimmune disease), and that’s why wheat gives us trouble.

  23. Pat Cavanaugh says:

    Alot of these symptoms, especially the women near menopause, sounds like reactive hypoglycemia. Even though blood levels read normal, the reactions are like carb intolerance. Eliminate refined sugar wherever possible. Eat low glycemic fruit as opposed to juices to keep blood insulin level. And make sure you have protein with each meal or snack, (i.e., sugar free peanut butter and apple, or string cheese and piece of fruit). Eat plenty of leafy green veggies.
    Ive been doing this for 2 years and so far so good. However, if I screw up I get immediate symptoms. Also, don’t eat any heavy meals before bedtime. You will wake up 3 to 6 hours later. Stay away from soy, caffeine, white flour, jellies, etc. They cause blood insulin to spike. Look up Dr. Claudia Mareck’s findings. I had to do this diet to reset the adrenal system. I thought I had fibromyalgia. Her book saved my life. It worked after several months. I also lost 15 pounds. I feel 100% better and continue to monitor my food consumption. Also a great book for blood insulin info is Dr. Sears book the Zone. The foreward is very informative and explains why we react the way that we do. Good luck. Hope you all feel better soon!

  24. Rita says:

    Glad for this website you start to think your crazy, when I eat the wrong thing my stomach swells like I’m 3-4 months pregnant, sometimes it feels a ball has formed in the top of my stomach constricting my breathing like there is a alien alive in there. This is all in-addition to fatigue, joint pain, rash, brain fog, & forgetfulness.
    What’s really weird is my stomach will also swell when in the shower I step in no stomach with each breath I take it grows? Chemicals? Does anyone else have this symptom?

    I have been gluten free for past 2 years now looks like need to eliminate sugars and maybe milk too.
    Frustrated and depressed in San Diego

    • jane says:

      hi, rita – your post is old, but i’ve just arrived at this site. at the risk of sounding like a broken record, you might want to have your thyroid tested. so many of your symptoms sound like low thyroid. get a tsh, free t3, free t4, and thyroid antibodies – all are necessary (don’t let the doctor just do a tsh). then do your homework so that you can see how to read the labs and how much thyroid med you’ll need to feel better. easy testing, easy treatment. hope this helps.

  25. Michelle says:

    Omgoodness!!! I thought I was the only nut too who had intolerant reactions to sugar. The Doctors have nooo idea what is going on. I have had so many blood tests I am sure they are thinking that I am making things up. Within the last year or so my intolerance has become worse. My body now swells up if I have sugar. I can notice it the most in my cheeks, fingers and toes. Wish there was someone to go to that can help you sort out what is happening and why. Its really hard to avoid all types of sugar. I find I get hungry if I avoid and then end up binge eating.

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