FEEDING THE SUGAR FIEND
What does the Cookie Monster and chronic illness have in common? Sugar cravings. These cravings make it difficult to stick to a healing diet. They may lead to binge eating, energy rushes and crashes, bloating, symptom flare-ups, and may even feed the chronic illness we are trying to heal.
So what leads to sugar cravings and what can you do about it?
1. Imbalanced Dopamine/Serotonin
Dopamine is the feel good neurotransmitter. In the brain it supports motivation, energy, motor control, reward, and pleasure. Small joys in the world give us little boosts of dopamine. Exciting events, social media, food, drugs, alcohol, sugary foods give us larger boosts of dopamine. So if we are low in dopamine, we may become "addicted" to these things to try and stimulate dopamine production.
A few natural and healthy ways to stimulate dopamine include eating protein at each meal as dopamine is made of tyrosine, an amino acid found in protein. Exercising as able is helpful, working towards gratitude and compassion are also great ideas.
Serotonin is an important systemic neurotransmitter. Its effects include gut motility, mood regulation, appetite control, sleep, relaxation, memory, and more. Certain foods, including sugars and starches, may give us a short term increase in serotonin which is why we feel "good" after eating them.
Eating foods high in tryptophan can be helpful in supporting serotonin. Probiotics, vitamin D, fish oil, zinc, magnesium, B-vitamins may help. Working with a professional on using St. John's Wort or lithium are also options for low serotonin. Lifestyle activities of meditation, dancing, music, low level laser therapy may also boost serotonin.
When we have too many of these critters in our system, they will want to be fed. Often they feed best on carbohydrates and sugars. Many of my patients report effortlessly giving up sugar once we support the body in dealing with parasites, yeast, or dysbiosis. We often work with many of these cases at Keystone Total Health.
Generally supporting gut health is important with this aspect. Eating a diet high in garlic, oregano, thyme, rosemary, probiotics, can all be helpful. Using raw apple cider vinegar with meals can support healthy stomach acid and bile excretion which is the body's natural way of keeping critters in check.
Hypoglycemia is when your blood sugar may get too low on a regular basis or crashes easily. This is often a symptom of something else going on within the body that needs to be addressed. The key with hypoglycemia is staying ahead of the blood sugar fluctuations with low-glycemic and slow digesting foods. Starting your meals with a protein is a great idea.
4. Insulin Resistance
We become insulin resistant when we eat too much sugar and too many carbohydrates causing our pancreas to over-secrete insulin. This makes us resistant to the insulin. Our blood sugar levels end up very high, but our cells are starving for energy. Often after eating, these folks will be very fatigued and may end up with more cravings as their bodies are confused. Their body says, "This is weird, we ate, but I still don't have any nutrients or fuel."
Intermittent fasting, using raw apple cider vinegar before meals, focusing on protein, and exercise all help to support the body in healing from insulin resistance.
5. Stress/Adrenal Overstimulation/ Adrenal Exhaustion
When are bodies are constantly stressed and our adrenal glands are put into constant overuse, they will need a fast energy source. This fast fuel is glucose, or blood sugar. The more stress, the more adrenal overstimulation, the more sugar that is needed to sustain it. This is the proverbial "burning the candle from both ends." Eventually this will lead to adrenal exhaustion and personal burn-out.
The first step is to identify and either remove the stress or find a healthier way to cope with it. Staying hydrated, consuming Himalayan or Celtic Sea Salt in your water and on your food are helpful. Finding ways to rest and relax are important (meditation, journaling, tapping).
Hopefully this has proved helpful for you but if you are struggling and looking to move towards optimum health, please give us a call at Keystone Total Health, we would love to help you.
Martin C. Hart, NASM-CES
This is not intended to diagnose or treat any conditions. Informational purposes only.