One of my favorite topics to research and write about: sugar and gut health.

Why? Because sugar is literally in almost everything.

I am making this very clear with the list below of 192 sugar sources and alternate names.

And while we (and by “we,” of course I mean me!) love sugar, I can never help but constantly question –

Does sugar contribute to a healthy gut? Or maybe the question is, ‘What does a high-sugar diet do to the gut microbiome?”

Note: This post was originally published in 2014. It has been updated as of 2024. Yes, I’ve been around for a very long time doing this work 🙂

Sugar is the Most Potent Drug

Let’s start here….Did you know that sugar is the most potent drug? 

Or that the sugar addiction is real?

I once stumbled upon an article from a company called Fooducate.

The article’s title, “Is Evaporated Cane Sugar Juice Healthier than Sugar?”

The short answer is “no, it is not.”

Evaporated cane juice is simply cane sugar. They contain the same amount of calories. Evaporated cane juice confers no additional nutrients or antioxidants.

There is one difference though. Evaporated cane juice is derived from sugar cane, not from beets. Approximately half the sugar supply in the US is from beets, and most of them are genetically modified. Sugar cane is not genetically modified. Manufacturers could easily state that they are using cane sugar, but again, cane juice sounds healthier.

The article reminded me of the trickery that is so many of our favorite sweet treats, how it’s everywhere and in everything, but that many times we are fooled because it doesn’t wear the name tag: I am sugar.

As a matter of fact, for the most part, sugar is sugar is sugar….and if you want to heal your gut or simply just feel better in general, all that extra sugar and natural sweeteners must leave your daily choices immediately.

Sugar and Gut Health

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Sugar and Gut Health

17 teaspoons.

That’s how much sugar the average American consumes on a daily basis (according to the American Heart Association).

And while this is a high intake of sugar, rarely do we recognize that we are, in fact, indulging in excessive sugar consumption.

But make not mistake about it – high sugar consumption has clearly been shown to have a significant effect on the human gut.

​Let’s check out some previous studies and even more recent ones that have been conducted….

Diabetology put out research titled, “Impact of Dietary Sugars on Gut Microbiota and Metabolic Health.”

In their study, they found:

Although added sugars in the form of nutritive and non-nutritive sweeteners are generally considered as safe, a growing body of evidence correlate their consumption with adverse effects on gut microbial ecosystem; namely an abnormal synthesis of short-chain fatty acids, altered intestinal barrier integrity and chronic inflammation that often fuel a panoply of metabolic conditions.

Furthermore, Columbia University Irving Medical Center found the following:

A study of mice found that dietary sugar alters the gut microbiome, setting off a chain of events that leads to metabolic disease, pre-diabetes, and weight gain.

​They also noted,

Sugar eliminates the filamentous bacteria, and the protective Th17 cells disappear as a consequence.

​And “what function for the gut’s purpose do Th17 cells provide?”

Science Direct states,

Th17 cells are proinflammatory cells that secrete IL-17A, IL-17F, IL-21, and IL-22 and provide immunity to several extracellular pathogens including defense against infections from Candida, Citrobacter, and Klebsiella (Happel et al., 2005; Huang et al., 2004; Mangan et al., 2006)

This could help you understand more about why your practitioner tells you absolutely no sugar if you have Candida.

More Scientific Research Regarding High Sugar Intake and Gut Bacteria

The NIH also came out with research stating, 

Consequently, high dietary sugar can, through the modulation of microbiota, promote metabolic endotoxemia, systemic (low grade) inflammation and the development of metabolic dysregulation.

They further state,

High sugar intake seems to stagger the balance of microbiota, by modifying the ratio of Proteobacteria and Bacteroidetes, to have increased pro-inflammatory properties, decreased immune-regulatory functions and decreased capacity to regulate epithelial integrity.

This is important to note because we already know that when there is dysfunction of the intestinal epithelial barrier, increased permeability occurs and thus “leaky gut syndrome” surfaces.

In case you’re new ’round here, I wrote a book in 2019 about leaky gut, and am super passionate about the topic.

I focus a lot on it, and healing and sealing the gut lining because of it today.


We are misled when it comes to sugar

And here are just some of the overall health lies we are told regarding added sugar.

  • No-calorie (aka nonnutritive or artificial sweeteners) sugars will make us “thin” (Grab me another Diet Coke because it’s just what I need for this sweet tooth.)
  • As long as it’s “organic,” it’s not only okay, but it’s good for us (Natural sugars are healthy for me.)
  • If the package doesn’t say “sugar,” then there’s no sugar in it (I’m not seeing the words, “Cane Sugar” on this packaged product; I’m good to go.)

Sugar is a major problem child, and for good reason; sugar’s effects are addictive. 

If you don’t believe me, study my list of 192 sugar sources and alternate names below.

Then, cut them all for even just three days.

Keep meticulous notes in your gut healing journaling system [get it HERE] and revisit this article.

I do this experiment with these dietary changes once every few months.

Here’s what happens in the first three days alone:

  1. Intestinal inflammation drastically reduces and one way I know this is because my bowel movements are at least 2 x’s per day on the Bristol Stool Chart #4. It’s incredible!
  2. The highs-and-lows disappear; blood sugar levels normalize. (You can do an actual test with this by using the Nutrisense [HERE – save $30]
  3. Sugar cravings drastically reduce; no, they aren’t gone in 3 days, but they are majorly reduced.

It is this addiction to all types of sugar that keeps bad gut bacteria thriving

Gut microbes not consisting of good bacteria love them some sugar to feast on.

And the longer we ignore the impact sugar has on gut health, consuming too much sugar, the more likely it is that we cannot heal irritable bowel syndrome and/or inflammatory bowel disease.

In A Gutsy Girl’s Bible: a 21-day approach for healing the gut, I put together a list of 192 sugar sources and alternate names. (For the record, I also did the same thing with the following: corndairyegg, fish, legumes and beans, soy, wheat, and gluten. And yes, I worked on this for months!)

Get A Gutsy Girl’s Bible + A Gutsy Girl’s gut healing journal SYSTEM + a 4-week day-by-day calendar for steps to take in healing your gut starting TODAY.

24/7 access, 365 days a year.

When it comes to healing the gut, knowing exactly what to look for on labels is critical.

Here is my contribution to helping you spot sugar! 

192 Sugar Sources and Alternate Names

Click HERE to save this post for later.

192 Sugar Sources and Alternative Names

Now that you understand the intersection of sugar and gut health, here are 192 sugar sources and alternate names.

I bet you had no idea there could be so many!

  1. Acesulfame-K
  2. Agave Nectar
  3. Agave Syrup
  4. Amasake
  5. Amber Liquid Sugar
  6. Apple Sugar
  7. Apply Syrup
  8. Arenga Sugar
  9. Aspartame
  10. Bakers Special Sugar
  11. Barbados Sugar
  12. Barley Malt
  13. Barley Malt Syrup
  14. Bar Sugar
  15. Beet Molasses
  16. Beet Sugar
  17. Beet Syrup
  18. Berry Sugar
  19. Blackstrap Molasses
  20. Brown Rice Syrup
  21. Brown Sugar
  22. Buttery Syrup
  23. Cake
  24. Cane Crystals
  25. Cane Juice (evaporated)
  26. Cane Juice Crystals
  27. Cane Juice Powder
  28. Cane Sugar
  29. Caramel
  30. Carob Syrup
  31. Castor Sugar
  32. Cellobiose
  33. Chicory
  34. Coarse Sugar
  35. Coco Sugar
  36. Coconut Nectar
  37. *Coconut Sugar (Coconut Palm Sugar) 
  38. Concord Grape Juice Concentrate
  39. Confectioner’s Sugar
  40. Cookies
  41. Corn Sweetener
  42. Cornsweet 90
  43. Corn Syrup
  44. Corn Syrup Solids
  45. Creamed Honey (this is not the natural honey)
  46. Crystal Dextrose
  47. Crystalline Fructose
  48. Crystallized Organic Cane Juice
  49. D-Arabino-Hexulose
  50. D-Fructose
  51. D-Mannose
  52. D-Xylose
  53. Dark Brown Sugar
  54. Dark Molasses
  55. Date Sugar
  56. Decorating Sugar
  57. Dehydrated Sugar Cane Juice
  58. Demerara Sugar
  59. Dextrin
  60. Dextran
  61. Dextrose
  62. Diatase
  63. Diastatic Malt
  64. Dixie Crystals
  65. ECJ
  66. Equal
  67. Erythritol (alcohol)
  68. Ethyl Maltol
  69. First Molasses
  70. Florida Crystals
  71. Fructamyl
  72. Fructose (some of this allowed; specified where)
  73. Fruit Juice
  74. Fruit Juice Concentrate
  75. Galactose
  76. Glucomalt
  77. Glucoplus
  78. Glucose
  79. Glucose Solids
  80. Glucose Sweet
  81. Glucose Syrup
  82. Glycol (alcohol)
  83. Golden Syrup
  84. Gomme Syrup
  85. Granulated Fructose
  86. Granulated Sugar
  87. Granulated Sugar Cane Juice
  88. Grape Sugar
  89. Gum
  90. Gur
  91. High-Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS, HFCS 42, HFCS 55)
  92. High Dextrose Glucose Syrup
  93. High Fructose Maize Syrup
  94. High Maltose Corn Syrup
  95. Honey 
  96. HSH
  97. Hydrogenated Starch
  98. Hydrogenated Starch Hydrosylate
  99. Hydrolyzed Corn Starch
  100. Icing Sugar
  101. Inulin
  102. Invert Sugar
  103. Inverted Sugar Syrup
  104. Invert Syrup
  105. Isoglucose
  106. Isomalt
  107. Jaggery
  108. Lactitol
  109. Lactose
  110. Levulose
  111. Light Brown Sugar
  112. Light Molasses
  113. Liquid Sugar
  114. Malt
  115. Malted Barley Syrup
  116. Malted Corn Syrup
  117. Malt Syrup
  118. Maltodextrin
  119. Maltitol
  120. Maltitol Syrup
  121. Maltose
  122. Mannitol (alcohol)
  123. Maple Sugar
  124. Maple Syrup
  125. Meritose
  126. Meritab 700
  127. Mints
  128. Misri
  129. Mycose
  130. Mylose
  131. Nutra-sweet
  132. Organic Agave Syrup
  133. Organic Brown Rice Syrup
  134. Organic Sucanat
  135. Organic Sugar
  136. Organic Raw Sugar
  137. Orgeat Syrup
  138. Panela
  139. Pancake Syrup
  140. Panocha
  141. Pearl Sugar
  142. Powdered Sugar
  143. Pure Cane Syrup
  144. Pure Sugar Spun
  145. Raisin Syrup
  146. Raffinose
  147. Rapadura
  148. Raw Agave Syrup
  149. Raw Sugar
  150. Refiner’s Syrup
  151. Rice Malt
  152. Rice Syrup
  153. Rice Syrup Solids
  154. Rock Sugar
  155. Saccharin
  156. Saccharose
  157. Sanding Sugar
  158. Shakar
  159. Simple Syrup
  160. Sirodex
  161. Splenda
  162. Sucrose
  163. Sorbitol (alcohol)
  164. Sorghum
  165. Sorghum Syrup
  166. Stevia (it usually has many other added things to it)
  167. Sucrose
  168. Sucrosweet
  169. Sugar
  170. Sugar Beet Crystals
  171. Sugar Beet Syrup
  172. Sugar Cane Juice
  173. Sugar Cane Natural
  174. Sulfured Molasses
  175. Sweet-n-Low
  176. Sweetened Condensed Milk
  177. Sweetleaf
  178. Table Sugar
  179. Tagatose
  180. Treacle
  181. Triose
  182. Truvia
  183. Turbinado Sugar
  184. Unrefined Sugar
  185. White Crystal Sugar
  186. White Grape Juice Concentrate
  187. White Refined Sugar
  188. White Sugar
  189. Wood Sugar
  190. Xylose
  191. Xylitol (alcohol)
  192. Yellow Sugar
192 Sugar Sources and Alternate Names

The Master Guide to Nonnutritive Sweeteners

Examples of nutritive sweeteners include: table sugar, honey, agave, and High-fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS).

A nonnutritive sweetener, though, provides no nutrition; simply just marketed as sugar free sugars.

According to the USDA, a nonnutritive sweetener is defined as,

Zero- or low-calorie alternatives to nutritive sweeteners, such as table sugar. These sweeteners can be added to both hot and cold beverages and some can be used for baking. Nonnutritive sweeteners are much sweeter than sugar so only small amounts are needed. They provide fewer calories per gram than sugar because they are not completely absorbed by your digestive system.

But what exactly are nonnutritive sweeteners? How will you know what they are/what are they called? (Because, no, when reading a nutrition label it will not say, “nonnutritive sweetener.”) And is it okay to use them?

Grab the full Master Guide to Nnonnnutritive Sweeteners HERE.

If you liked this post on sugar and gut health, you might also enjoy:

  1. All About the Large Intestine
  2. Best Supplements for SIBO – small intestine bacterial overgrowth – [based off experience + research]
  3. Interesting Facts About the Immune System {Plus 13 Science Backed Ways to Boost Your Immune System}


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  1. I LOVE this list! So helpful. One thing I love about sugar alcohol is that it’s not really a sugar or an alcohol as it doesn’t respond in the body like most sugars do (from an insulin standpoint). Actually, research show’s that 90% of Erythritol passes through the gut without any fermentation at all, making it a good alternative for people who want to avoid sugar.

    Here’s some research you might find interesting: and I love this guy’s work:

    Nice work!

  2. I cannot believe this. Who makes up these names? Is it manufacturers? Is it ingredient distributors? I don’t really understand how we have 192 names for sugar!

  3. Hi Sarah,

    As a sugar free eater myself who does so for a seizure conditions I appreciate that you have provided this list, however I have a major problem with you listing stevia which is NOT artificial if you buy from a high quality source like NuNaturals and you only buy the pure white stevia extract or the liquids ( with no additives). Stevia is not chemically derived if you buy the right brand nor has it ever caused me issues. In fact, it’s only helped me in my ten year quest of not eating sugar. I do hate the many names sugar wears and the disgusting turn out food industry has taken .

    I also know most stevia products contain additives like maltodextrin or dextrose which ate both sugar, but pure white stevia extract or pure liquid stevia extract( without glycerin) should not be included on this list. They are water extracted from the stevia plant and from the right source they are the perfect answer for those of us that don’t tolerate sugars like honey or coconut sugar. Stevia has no effect on the glycemic index nor does it have any calories.

    I’m not trying to be rude, I just don’t feel it’s fair to leave that out. As an avid label reader, I do appreciate you taking the time to make others aware.

    1. Hi Heather!

      Thank you for stopping by and for your thoughts. A few things:
      1. By no means did I ever say that all 192 forms were bad. The list is indifferent. It was meant to be a resource so people know what sugar is. The bottom line is that Stevia, too, is a form of sugar.
      2. Like you, I actually do use Organic Liquid Stevia and I know all about the things some Stevia manufacturers pump into their product. That said, while I am happy you found your superior source of NuNaturals, you do partner with them, so that is also a disclosure.
      3. Honey is a sugar. Coconut Sugar is a sugar. Organic Liquid Stevia is a sugar. I use all 3, and the first 2 I use in my nut butter line. To each is own, though, and everyone will tolerate different forms of sugar in different ways. But again, they are all still a form of sugar.

      Thanks again!

      1. To each her own is true, but stevia is not sugar. They are in no way related. It is an herbal sweetener, not a sugar. And yes, I am affiliated with NuNaturals but buy other types of PURE stevia as well- not just NuNaturals and because I don’t tolerate sugar for medical reasons. Sugar is not a sweetener and the two aren’t the same. I am so glad you put this list together though because as someone who’s studied it for years due to a seizure condition controlled by sugar intake, I can promise you- we need more people out there doing this.

        Bless you!

  4. Hi …. Would love your thoughts/ input . At the local farmer’s market I asked one of the honey providers if his honey was organic….he replied that he could not label it organic and there was no honey maker that could guarantee organic honey because you don’t know if the bees are landing on organic plants or non organic plants…

  5. I have to disagree with you…Stevia is natural and completely acceptable and ok to use…it is the only one I can have (Candida) and totally agrees with me…I too have done research on it, but one has to be careful and not just buy anything that says Stevia as everyone is trying to capitalize on the $$$ this brings.

    1. Wanda – but what are you disagreeing with me on? I never said it wasn’t okay to use. Fact remains: it’s a sugar. That is why it’s on the list.

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