Top 5 Predictors of Sugar Cravings and How to Beat Them for Good

BY ANNA HAGLEY

TheWonderVegan.com

If you’ve ever used the phrase, “I have a gut feeling about this…” then you know your gut and your brain are connected, and our guts know what they’re talking about!

While we listen to our gut feelings for some life decisions, we may not pick up on what our gut is trying to tell us about certain food choices, drink choices or overall lifestyle habits, and just how much our gut health is related to mood, cravings and overall physical and mental health.

So why do you crave sugar, why do you always feel tired and why do you keep going for the sugary junk food despite your self-promises to do otherwise? We eat certain foods, don’t eat certain foods or over indulge. Maybe these are habits that have been formed when you were young, or maybe it’s a relatively new problem. Either way, you’re probably ready to pull your hair out from promising yourself you will “eat healthier,” just to fall off the wagon again and again.

Let’s keep it simple. There’s a good chance you are experiencing a vicious cycle that you feel you can’t get away from, and here’s what that cycle looks like:

  1. Eating Sugary Foods Over Time (white flours, processed foods, sweets, breads)
  2. Taste Preference/Habit Formation/ Taste Preference Conditioning
  3. Bacteria Overgrowth and Intestinal Inflammation
  4. Hormone and Mood Disruption:
  5. Fatigue

1. Eating Sugary Foods Over Time (white flours, processed foods, sweets, breads): It happens to the best of us. Somewhere along the way, we get into a habit of eating the obviously-sugary foods, or maybe the sneaky ones that you don’t even realize have hidden sugars. Seemingly innocent choices like bread, cereal, granola, protein bars and sports drinks can have alarmingly high sugar contents. Hashtag Read The Label.

2. Taste Preference/Habit Formation/ Taste Preference Conditioning: After being in a routine of relying on the processed, pre-packaged and otherwise unhealthy, sugary food options, our taste buds and bodies begin craving these options, partly due to being creatures of habit, but also due to the way sugar interacts with the brain (and the gut, but don’t worry, that’s covered in number 3).
Sugar causes the brain to release dopamine (the Cupid of Chemicals, being responsible for the “love at first sight” feeling) like fireworks. Fireworks might be cool, but this is nothing to celebrate. Eat sugar = dopamine release=brain love fest. That’s one reason we keep going back for more. Luckily for you, unlike truly addictive substances, sugar “addiction” is unique in that the level of dopamine will return to its original levels in the brain, even after repeated hits of sugar, whereas in addictive substances, dopamine levels tank with repeated use, leading to withdrawal and increased cravings 1. Basically, sugar isn’t addictive in the way that we traditionally define that term. So why the heck are sugar cravings so intense?! Keep reading…

3. Bacteria Overgrowth and Intestinal Inflammation: Our gut needs bacteria to function optimally, but there are good and bad bacteria. Excess sugar promotes the growth of bad bacteria in your gut…bacteria that can rewire your brain to keep craving what the bad bacteria thrives on…sugar. You might be thinking this is some serious sci-fi Frankenstein stuff, right?
Wrong.

So how do bacteria play mind control with us? According to the Journal of Advances in Experimental Medicine and Biology, it’s actually pretty effortless for them. There’s a specific nerve, the vagus nerve, that connects the digestive tract to the base of the brain. Bacteria are great at survival, so to help ensure they survive, they have figured out how to alter the vagus nerve signals, change taste receptors and cause cravings, all by releasing chemicals 2 . To add insult to injury, increased bad bacteria makes us feel bloated from inflammation, and messes up our bathroom routine.

4. Hormone and Mood Disruption: By now you’re probably noticing that each of these points build upon each other. With that being said, the experts in all that is science, medicine and research, are finding that bacteria imbalances can be correlated with mood changes. Bad bacteria overgrowth can lead to releases of toxins that alter our mood, and not in a good way 3. Metabolic disorders (your metabolism and metabolic hormones misbehaving) and obesity are also found to be linked, in part, to gut bacteria imbalance 4.

5. Fatigue: As if all of this wasn’t tough enough, your body going through all of this is going to leave you feeling incredibly fatigued, which can start the cycle of unhealthy eating all over again. In fact, UC Berkeley researchers have found that people tend to favor unhealthy snack and junk foods when they are sleep deprived 5 .

Is experiencing and reading about all of this exhausting enough to make you want a nap? We’ve got your back with the most beneficial and realistic tips to start beating this habit-forming, Frankenstein-bacteria-growing, body-mind hijacking situation.

Probiotics: Adding a probiotic to your daily routine is a simple and convenient way to give bad bacteria a taste of their own medicine, pun intended. They allow for manipulating the bad bacteria and getting more of the good bacteria back into our gut, so that it can function properly and feel good again 3.

Adequate Sleep: Now you know that lack of sleep can impair your judgment and healthy eating success. Self-examine your daily routine to streamline it as much as possible and get to bed a bit earlier (Be honest- is the nightly Netflix binge really necessary? Our gut tells us, probably not!)

Meditation: If you’ve never meditated before, you may be picturing a yoga expert humming in a cross-legged position, but meditation can be as simple as finding a quiet place to sit in solitude on your lunch break, while listening to the sound of your breath. The breath can sound like waves of the ocean and have a calming, therapeutic effect. This can lower our stress and improve mood. If you can’t seem to find a quiet space, journaling 3 things you are grateful for, 5-10 minutes before bed, may have a similar benefit. These tips help combat the negative effect sugar has on your mood while you are on the journey to better health and decreased sugar cravings.

Detox Organics: A superfood (actually 25 superfoods in one, but who’s counting) like no other. This cocoa-powder style dietary supplement is organic, soy free, dairy free, vegan and non GMO, all while promoting toxin elimination, energy and mood improvement and inflammation reduction. The coolest part? It tastes like chocolate milk, so you’ll be satisfying the urge for something sweet all while re-wiring your brain to want more of the healthiest and most effective superfood supplement available. See why over 250,000 people use this product and order yours here.

Pre-Planning Meals: It doesn’t get simpler than this. Failing to plan is the same as planning to fail. You’ve tried the option of “winging it” day after day and just hoping you’ll pick healthy food options and it hasn’t worked. So let’s stop hoping, and start acting: take action by preparing 3-4 days worth of meals ahead of time, so there’s no room for chance or error. If you provide yourself with the healthy options, you’ll be less likely to grab the unhealthy ones. Not sure what to make? Find healthy eating tips or grab a meal plan here. (Hint: We like sweet potatoes!)

In short, you have the power to beat the cycle of sugar cravings and improve your life. Now that you know what you do, don’t wait to make a change. As always, we’re here for all of your health and wellness needs. Contact us for more tips and help to get started.

 

 

These statements have not been evaluated by the US Food and Drug Administration. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. Consult with your medical provider before starting an exercise, diet, or supplement regimen.

References

1 Westwater, M.L., Fletcher, P.C., & Ziauddeen, H. Eur j Nutr (2016) 55(Suppl 2): 55. https://doi.org/10/1007/s00394016-1229-6

2 Adv Exp Med Biol. 2014;817:115-33. doi: 10.1007/978-1-4939-0897-4_5.).

3 Bioessays. 2014. Oct; 36(10): 940-949. Published Online 2014 Aug 8/ doi: 10.1002/bies.201400071

4 Hormones (Athens). 2017 Jul;16(3):223-234. doi: 10.14310/horm.2002.1742.

5 Sleep deprivation linked to junk food cravings. Berkley News. Yasmin Anwar, Media Relations. Published Online 2013 Aug 6. http://news.berkeley.edu/2013/08/06/poor-sleep-junk-food/

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