With the holidays in full gear, many of us struggle with those darn sugar cravings. Some people suffer with some type of sugar craving or even a so-called sugar addiction all year long.
We know that sugar cravings cause a dopamine response as well as other neuro chemicals that ultimately creates a biochemical and neuro chemical response in the body. The addiction of sugar can cause a similar response in the brain as in drugs, alcohol or cigarettes. However, there’s a little bit more to sugar cravings than just that.
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Sugar Cravings and Gut Bacteria
Sugar cravings also come from our gut bacteria! Our gut bacteria is actually communicating to us that they want something. They have a mind of their own! Well, our gut is, in fact, our second brain. We have a trillion bacteria in our gut and there are different types that actually love different nutrients. Some love carbs, some fiber, and some love fats, for example. When we are not feeding those bacteria what they want, then they get really pissed off and can make us feel like crap. Therefore, it is really important to have a balance of beneficial bacteria in our gut. And, we need a lot of diversity. That’s why it’s so important to have a very well-balanced diet with variety of whole nutrient-dense foods. This helps to create the optimal microbiome for health. Remember… 70 percent of our immune system is in our gut. The bacteria in our gut helps us to maintain a healthy digestive tract, metabolize, digest and absorb nutrients. Our internal gut flora can really help to maximize our immune health, when we treat it well, that is.
What can you do about cravings?
So, you may be asking, what can I do when I have these sugar cravings? In two to four days, you can shift your gut bacteria. If you can commit to three days altering your microbiome, then you can start to begin to feel much better and likely not have the same cravings that you once did.
First, it is important to rule out a yeast overgrowth, especially if you are having significant sugar or carbohydrate cravings on a regular basis. This can be done through certain bloodwork, questionnaires, and of course a detailed evaluation of clinical presentation and symptoms.
Three-day microbiome challenge
The goal is a healthy, balanced, clean diet for three days with lots of fiber from fruits, vegetables, nuts, and possibly some lentils or beans. You can use the well-researched Mediterranean diet as a guide.
- Eat a clean diet and eliminate all sugar for three days. Yes, it will be challenging, but after those three days, you will likely have less cravings. Natural sugars from fruits are okay in small amounts and make sure to eliminate artificial sweeteners and added sugars, too.
- Eliminate gluten and dairy. These are two of the biggest inflammatory food triggers. Note, it does take two to four weeks for these to be completely out of your system.
- Make sure that you’re really managing sleep. Any type of sleep deprivation is going to have a direct correlation with your bacteria in your gut.
- Focus on destressing and scheduling relaxation: Taking time to totally de stress, whether that’s scheduling 15 minutes of relaxation, getting a massage, or setting time a side to meditate, do yoga or simply breathe is vital. Stress is one of the biggest inflammatory triggers in on your body and can significantly affect your gut bacteria.
- “Move well and then often.” Gray Cook: Exercise also has a positive effect on your bacteria in your gut.
The goal is to do all of this for three days. If you do this challenge, you can really begin your journey to making health changes well beyond. Of course, this is just the beginning to a healthier lifestyle. If you feel like your issues are more significant, feel free to email me and I can provide you with a questionnaire to see if you fall more into the category of potential yeast overgrowth.
If you are not sure where to start, please reach out to schedule a functional nutrition evaluation.