For those of you who have cut out sugar and have seen improvement, did you cut out sugar 100%? Even condiments and things like that where it’s hidden? Also, what about high fructose corn syrup? Have you found any sugar substitutes that do not aggravate your MAV? Thanks. I’m thinking of trying this and wondering how strict I have to be with it!

Hi Dizzygirl.
I have not out sugar, should I ? I have cut out everything else sugar would be the ultimate misery !
My doctor did not mention anything about sugar. Dizzies…are you all sugar free ?
I hope it works for you if you do it, curious to know !

I gave up sugar completely about four years ago. It was mainly for hypoglycemic reasons but I think it did me good all round. At almost the same time I started on the migraine diet so difficult to say if it was giving up the sugar or changing my diet that caused the improvement, probably a combination of both. I cut all sugar out, 100%. The only sugar I have is fructose from fruit, which I am ok with.

I tried Agave syrup for a while. It tasted good and was a bit of a treat at first but to be honest I wasn’t fussed after a while. I’ve lost my sweet tooth altogether, something I never thought would happen and I don’t find a sugar free regime a hardship at all now.


I know this is going to sound a little odd, but I think I have narrowed my trigger from sugar to specifically high fructose corn syrup. I finfally figured it out when I was eating pancakes. The pancake syrup was what did it. I tolerate white sugar and brown sugar well.


I cut out sugar completely last febuary hoping it would fix my problems but unfortunatly for me It made no difference at all. On the plus side I guess im a little healthier, I do not need sugar anymore.

Hi all,

Sugar is basically the guts of what my PhD was all about – as in highly refined carbohydrate causing glucose spikes in the blood and how that makes people more susceptible to cardiovascular disease over time.

I won’t bore you all with the details but it’s important to note that “sugar” is a really general term and doesn’t really describe a whole lot. There are many different sugars – monosaccharides and disaccharides. The common sugars we eat daily are sucrose (table sugar which is chemically made up of a glucose and fructose molecule stuck together and therefore a disaccaharide), glucose and fructose (monosaccharides). Fructose is the main sugar in fruit and honey. The rate at which fructose enters the blood stream as a useable energy source is VERY slow. It must first be converted by the liver into glucose. It therefore has a very low glycemic index and does not cause much change in blood glucose levels like you would find from eating a slice of white bread.

White bread produces a much bigger rise in blood glucose than you get from eating a Mars Bar (surprising isn’t it?). The starch in white bread breaks down rapidly into glucose and produces such a fast and big spike that we use it for testing purposes here at the University. It makes a good standard real food for producing the biggest spike we can generate (usually about 110 g of white bread = 50 g of glucose). Mashed white potatoes will also send blood glucose very high, very quickly as does jasmine rice and many breakfast cereals. By contrast a spoonful of table sugar has only a moderate effect on blood glucose levels because of the fructose component of the molecule. So don’t let anyone tell you that sugar is evil. There are so many myths out there about sugar it’s staggering actually.

Now whether or not “sugar” in a food is aggravating migraine is very hard to say I think. In most instances I would be thinking it has more to do with other additives in that food –- such as a glazed doughnut for example. But there are some here who find a low carb diet or even a low GI diet (both different) to be effective. And there is some evidence to suggest that insulin may play a role in triggering migraine. Conversely, there is also evidence that shows starving the body of glucose and forcing the body to make it’s own through a process known as gluconeogenesis also kicks off migraine.

Remember that we *need" glucose. It is the only fuel your brain will burn unless the body is in advanced stages of starvation.

Best … Scott 8)

1 Like

Hey Scott,

That is very interesting stuff! At the risk of asking a dumb question is there something different about a mashed potato (with nothing extra eg butter added) as opposed to a boiled or baked potato?


Hi Victoria,

No, it’s a good question. There really isn’t a whole lot of difference between those sorts of potatoes in terms of the glycemic response in the blood. But what does tend to lower the GI is cooking the potatoes and then leaving them in the fridge over night. The starch “retrogrades”. If the potatoes are used in a salad with some sort of vinaigrette, the vinegar lowers the GI further. All sweet potatoes (the orange ones) are low GI and there are some white potatoes with a lower GI too called “nicola”. Most are high though.

Breakfast cereals are notoriously high because the starch is extruded in the production process. Cereals like Rice Krispies (Bubbles here) and Nutra-Grain are high GI for this reason So is Wheet-Bix. Oats, on the other hand, are very low GI as is All-Bran. Some mueslis are high GI too.

Best … Scott 8)

— Begin quote from ____

Sugar is basically the guts of what my PhD was all about

— End quote

Any chance of more of your wisdom on sugar Scott? Anything published anywhere? I’d be really interested. Thanks.


Hi Brenda,

These publications of mine mainly deal with the GI and/or discuss how “glycemia” (blood glucose) and cardiovascular disease and insulin resistance are related. If you want a full paper for any of them I’d be happy to put them up.

One other myth that constantly needs to be addressed is the belief that “too much sugar causes diabetes”. It’s completely untrue. Lately I’ve been working on papers that deal more with medications and diabetes and not much on the GI.

Cheers … Scott :slight_smile:

Hey Scott,

Sometimes I think blissful food ignorance is best - I think it would drive me crazy knowing as much about food as you do :lol: . I think I will stick to my “less of the soft brown stuff and more of the colourful crunchy stuff” philosophy.

I rarely eat potatoes - unless they are fried (ie bad soft brown stuff) but do like orange sweet potato. I make soup that is just sweet potato, canellini beans and bit of curry past all whizzed up. Very tasty.

I thought museli was a “good” cereal, you know, with nuts and seeds and stuff. Just as well my usual school day breakfast is a raw egg and yoghurt mixed up into a “shake”.

Sugar doesn’t cause diabetes?? Hooray! I think… what does? The type 2 adult version I mean.


Hi Vic,

Potatoes are not a food to be avoided outright. The trick is to eat only a small portion and offset the GI with other low GI foods. So you could have a nice big bowl of salad along with one or two spuds with a vinegar-based dressing in the salad (that is if it doesn’t set off a migraine). Another trick is to make mash potatoes with half potato and half butter beans. All beans (legumes) are low GI. But stick to those sweet potatoes. Yum.

What causes diabetes? Lots of things. The number one problem is overweight and obesity. This increases the risk substantially. Other things include low physical activity levels, lack of strength training (using your muscles), too much saturated fats in the diet, ethnicity, genetics (family history) and highly processed carbohydrate. The latter is not a huge determinant but large observational studies show that people who eat a high GI diet have an independent increase in risk when other factors are controlled for. High blood pressure and cigarette smoking also greatly increase risk.


Hi Scott and all!

I would also like to add that the more fiber a food has the lower the GI, so make sure you eat the skin with the potato cause that is where most of the fiber (and nutrients) are hidden :slight_smile: You can smash it right into your mashed potatoes and it adds a nice flavor dimension as well…



Hi Lisa,

How are you doing? We haven’t chatted for a while. I have been ok but am back on the valium again after overdoing it the last few days. I just woke with vertigo in my sleep. I can’t recall the last time this happened for me but it’s awful. How’s Verapamil going?

Just to add to the fibre story – there’s a caveat.

Soluble fibre: gel, gum and often jelly-like components of apples, oats, and legumes. These sorts of fibres thicken the food mix entering the digestive tract, slow down the time it takes the food to pass through. Foods with high levels of soluble or viscous fibre lower the glycemic response and thus have a low GI.

Insoluble fibre: the dry and bran-like stuff commonly thought of as roughage. All cereal grains and products made from them that retain the outer layer of the grain are sources of insoluble fibre (e.g. whole grain bread and All-Bran). But not all foods containing insoluble fibre are low GI. These types of fibres will only lower the GI of a food when they exist in their original form – for example, in whole grains of wheat. They act as a physical barrier, delaying digestion. Ground wheat fibres, such as in whole wheat bread, has no effect whatsoever on the rate of starch digestion and the blood glucose response. Breakfast cereals made with whole wheat flours also tend to have high GI values unless there are other ingredients in the cereal that lower the GI.

Vic – most mueslis are low GI but some are not. Which one are you eating?

Cheers … Scott

Hi Scott,

Sorry about your recent vertigo attack. Ugh. I hope you feel better soon.

Very impressive list of publications as well Dr. Smartie Pants and thanks for all the good info on GI foods… low ones that is :slight_smile:

As for me, the verapamil really only helped my headaches and some of the head pressure (none of the rocking/dysequilibrium/and myriad of other MAV symptoms) so I am staying on 120 mg and a few weeks ago added topamax. I started at 6.25 mg and am adding that amount per week. Tonight I start 31.25 mg. I am tolerating it so far… just the usual tingling and slight nausea, but it has yet to help with any MAV symptoms yet.

Thanks for checkin’ in :smiley:


Hey Scott,

When not having my raw egg/yoghurt combo I have either all bran or museli. The museli is usually a delicious but over priced Byron Bay brand called Brookfarm. Has lots of nuts (maccas) and seeds etc. I usually add walnuts also.

Sweet potato rocks.


Hi Scott-

I know this is off topic to MAV, but since you are a sugar expert, thought I would ask. Have you done any research on sugar’s effect on high triglycerides?


Hi jay,

The evidence suggests that high GI carbs cause an increase in triglycerides:

[size=130]Effects of the glycemic index of foods on serum concentrations of high-density lipoprotein cholesterol and triglycerides.[/size]
Pelkman CL.
Current Atherosclerosis Reports 2001 Nov;3(6):456-61.

The role of carbohydrates in cardiovascular disease prevention has garnered increasing attention due to accumulating evidence showing deleterious effects of low-fat, high-carbohydrate diets on serum triglycerides and high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol. Researchers argue that classifying carbohydrates based on their capacity for increasing blood glucose (termed the glycemic index ) is a useful tool for elucidating the effects of carbohydrate-rich foods on glucose and lipid metabolism. Several epidemiologic reports show that lower dietary GI is associated with lower serum triglycerides and higher HDL cholesterol. Results from intervention studies show that substituting low-GI for high-GI foods in a low-fat, high- carbohydrate diet lowers serum triglycerides by 15% to 25%. The available evidence to date suggests that the glycemic index of foods will be an important factor in future dietary prevention research.

Best … Scott


To say that “cutting sugar” is healthy because it has very bad effects on the body is nothing but complete nonsense. This idea that sugar is evil is not supported by any evidence, logic or plausibility. In fact, the opposite is true. Your body requires sugar (glucose) for fuel; your brain will ONLY burn glucose for fuel unless you are in advanced stages of starvation. Cut the glucose supply (hypoglycemia) and you will fall into a coma.

The reason people assume that sugar is “evil” is because they associate it with icing on doughnuts or in some sort of refined junk breakfast cereal like Fruit Loops. The take home message is to choose unrefined carbohydrates, increase fibre intake (lots of fruit and veg), reduce saturated fat in your diet, do some sort of regular strength training (start with your own body weight if too weak) and get 30 min of aerobic exercise under your belt daily.

If you wish to make these sorts of broad statements about sugar, be specific and please back them up with some evidence.

Best … Scott

my personal opinion and response to this topic:

whenever I’m having an off day, I ALWAYS make sure to have a sugar source nearby - my dizziness never worsens or gets better when I eat a lot of candy. I just can’t give up wintergreen lifesavers and Haribo gummy bears. (:

(I think I have an addiction…help! lol)