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Why do people crave food?
Let’s face it. Everyone enjoys a little treat now and then. But for millions of Americans, what should be an occasional treat has become a staple of the diet. High sugar foods like soda pop, candy, pastries, donuts and ice cream are now consumed in large quantities almost every day. Deep fried foods, pizza and other convenience foods, often high in calories and low in vitamins and minerals, are also daily staples for most people.
The results of this high consumption of “junk foods” are tremendous problems with obesity, diabetes, heart disease, mood disorders like anxiety and depression, learning problems in children and problems with teeth, bones and joints. Most people are probably aware that they should be eating healthier, but actually getting themselves to make the transition is an entirely different problem.
This is partly due to the fact that simple sugars are highly addictive. In fact, most fast and convenience foods are designed to be addictive, so you can’t eat just one little serving without craving more. So, how do you break the junk food addiction for yourself and your family so you can enjoy the good health you both desire and deserve? Well that’s exactly what we’ll be discussing in this month’s Sunshine Sharing Hour.
How to overcome food cravings
We’ll be talking about the serious consequences our junk food culture is having on our health and the health of our children. We’ll discuss how to transition away from high sugar and processed foods by making healthier substitutes for the foods we crave. We’ll also talk about herbs and supplements that can help to reduce cravings for sugar and processed foods, while balancing our blood sugar and enhancing our mood.
Making the switch to a healthier diet does take effort, but the increased energy, improved mood and alertness and the overall improvement in our health make the effort well worth it. Join us and learn how you can overcome your “junk food junkie” cravings and improve your diet without making yourself feel deprived of those treats we all enjoy.
Conditions: Most people have
Addiction (coffee, caffeine)
Caffeine may be the most widely used of all drugs, because it simply isn’t regarded as a drug. Adults use it freely, and parents allow children to drink caffeinated sodas as casually as if it were lemonade. In spite of its innocuous reputation, excessive use of caffeine may cause serious damage to the brain and central nervous system. High blood pressure cases are particularly at risk.
The continued, habitual use of caffeinated beverages (coffee, tea, kola drinks) to sustain energy causes a person to become addicted to these substances. This addiction continues until the person is unable to sustain normal energy levels without the use of caffeine.
Caffeine stimulates epinephrine production, “upping” the function of the central nervous system. Habitual use of excessive caffeine causes adrenal fatigue, anxiety, nervousness, insomnia and other nervous symptoms. It depletes the adrenals, causing fatigue. The longer caffeine is used, the more depleted the adrenals become and the more the person craves caffeine. Herbs that strengthen the adrenals such as licorice root, Adrenal Support and Nervous Fatigue Formula are helpful in caffeine withdrawal. These same products can also help with sugar addiction, which is often related to caffeine addiction.
Addictions (sugar or refined carbohydrates)
Sugar is highly addictive, and the average American consumes 125–175 pounds of refined sugar annually. About 1/3 to 1/2 pound daily! High fructose corn syrup and table sugar make up most of this. Both are glucose-fructose mixtures with health-destroying effects.
The digestive tract converts starch in grains into sugar. Refined grains quickly become simple sugars and have the same issues as refined sweets. Alcohol rapidly converts to simple carbohydrates, causing blood sugar abnormalities.
Sugar addicts for many reasons. First, the body needs B-vitamins, vitamin C, and minerals like chromium, vanadium, and magnesium to turn sugar into energy. These nutrients are present with sugar in entire foods, helping the body manage sugar metabolism. We still feel hungry after eating refined sugar since the body didn't obtain enough nutrients. This makes us eat more.
Sugar also disrupts hormones. The pancreas releases insulin and glucagon to regulate blood sugar. In hyperglycemia, the pancreas releases insulin to store blood sugar. Glucagon is released by the pancreas to release sugar from storage during hypoglycemia.
Glucagon and insulin both decrease synthesis. A hormonal axis is this interaction, which teeters like hormones.
When excessive amounts of simple carbohydrates enter the bloodstream, the pancreas releases insulin to protect the brain. This suppresses glucagon synthesis, making it difficult to mobilize sugar from storage once blood sugar is used up. Low blood sugar is hypoglycemia.
Sugar cravings raise sugar levels again. This is a blood sugar roller coaster that affects your emotions. Blood sugar affects the brain, causing hyperactivity, irritation, depression, and anxiousness.
High insulin levels boost fat storage as the body reserves sugar. Hypoglycemic reactions can stress the adrenals, especially when caffeine is used to activate them. Stress chemicals like cortisol are utilized to raise blood sugar. This causes adrenal exhaustion.
Inflammatory prostaglandins are also suppressed by high insulin levels. The adrenals lose their ability to manage inflammation as they become fatigued by sugar and caffeine. Chronic inflammation causes heart disease, cancer, and brain inflammation, which destroys brain cells.
Beat Your Sugar and Carb Addiction
Avoiding sweets and starchy meals will never help you quit white sugar and carbs. We need carbs. They give us energy and make us seek sweets since our senses were developed to find natural carbs.
Start actively eating complex carbohydrates like fresh fruits, veggies, and healthy grains instead of processed sugar, white flour, and white rice. Raw honey, real maple syrup, freeze-dried sugar cane juice, and other natural sugars can replace refined sugar. These carbohydrates satiate and reduce hunger because they include nutrients.
Breakfast establishes your metabolism for the day, so eating well can help you overcome sugar addiction. After fasting all night, your blood sugar is low in the morning. The first meal of the day is called “break fast.”
Simple carbohydrates like pastries, donuts, toast, or breakfast cereal (even whole grain) break your fast in the morning, triggering an insulin surge that keeps your blood sugar roller coastering all day. Glucagon releases sugar from stored reserves and reduces insulin production when you break your fast with high-protein foods.
Protein for breakfast stabilizes blood sugar and burns fat and weight. Eat excellent fat during breakfast to enhance this process. Choose eggs, whole milk yoghurt, organic meats, avocados, or protein-packed breakfast smoothies. Until your metabolism stabilizes, skip fruit, juice, or whole grain cereal for breakfast if you crave carbs and sweets. After you stop craving simple sugars, you can probably eat them for breakfast.
Balanced blood sugar supplements are the final step to sugar addiction recovery. A decent program uses Super Algae and licorice root. Adults take two capsules at breakfast, lunch, and midafternoon. Do not use licorice root if you have high blood pressure.
HY-C and Nervous Fatigue Formula also control blood sugar. B-complex vitamins and chromium help the body use sugar efficiently and overcome sugar addiction. NSP’s Blood Sugar Reducing Formulas help diabetics manage blood sugar. Good fats and fiber balance blood sugar.
Good fats lessen sugar cravings while fiber inhibits sugar release, stabilizing blood sugar. Chronic yeast infections or SIBO might cause sugar cravings. Sugar digestion and absorption are hindered by bacteria and yeast. Ideas for treating this condition include Fungal Infections and SIBO.
A lack of sweetness (joy) in one’s life can sometimes induce excessive food cravings. Finding different ways to enjoy life can be helpful.
Inability to effectively digest food and get useable nutrients from it. Pain, bloating, gas, cramping, and/or heartburn may be experienced. A lack of digestive enzymes or acid in the stomach is typically to blame. Weight loss, the inability to gain muscle mass, atrophy, pallor, and exhaustion can all result from poor digestion that has persisted over time and reached a severe level.
The first step in resolving this issue is to begin taking digestive enzymes. The best place to begin is with Proactazyme Plus. You can also try PDA, Food Enzymes, or Protease Plus. The natural digestive secretions of the body should also be encouraged. Chinese Anti-Gas, Anti-Gas Formula with Lobelia, Digestive Bitters Tonic, safflowers, and Papaya Mint Tablets are all products that may be useful.
The Chinese medicine Spleen Activator is used for weak digestion, a lack of muscle mass, weariness, and a pale complexion. The spleen is the organ in Chinese medicine responsible for converting nutrients into muscular tissue. Therefore, difficulty to increase muscular mass is directly related to spleen chi deficit. Protein catabolism and spleen chi shortage may also be assisted by Trigger Immune, American ginseng, and saw palmetto.
Research has brought to light a previously hidden cause of many modern illnesses. Dubbed metabolic syndrome X, this condition involves cellular resistance to a hormone called insulin, which causes insulin levels in the blood to rise, a condition known as hyperinsulinemia.
We’ve all heard that a deficiency of insulin produces a condition known as diabetes, but that’s only true in type I diabetes (10-15% of cases). In most cases of diabetes (type II) there is an excess of this pancreatic hormone. In type II diabetes, insulin is being produced in excess, but isn’t working due to cellular resistance. If this sounds like type II diabetes and syndrome X have the same cause, you got it. Type II diabetes is one of the serious health problems syndrome X can cause, but it isn’t the only one.
Too much insulin is linked to high blood pressure and arteriosclerosis. In fact, excess insulin is a bigger risk factor for cardiovascular disease than excess cholesterol.
Hyperinsulinemia is also a major cause of obesity, because insulin causes the body to store more fat. It disrupts sodium metabolism, increasing water retention. By depressing neurotransmitters in the brain syndrome X contributes to depression. In women, 75% of all cases of polocystic ovarian syndrome are also related to too much insulin.
In the initial stages, producing too much insulin causes a rapid lowering of blood sugar levels, which causes hypoglycemia or low blood sugar. This increases the craving for sweets and stresses other hormone systems. It interferes with the conversion of thyroid hormone T-4 to T-3 which can result in functional hypothyroidism. Another negative effect is a rise in cortisol production from the adrenals. This reduces our ability to cope with stress, lowers our immune response and eventually exhausts our adrenals. Excess cortisol also contributes to aging.
Do You Have Metabolic Syndrome?
If you want to know if you have Syndrome X, you could have lab tests run to check your insulin levels. (Fasting levels of insulin should be below 10 units.) However, there is an easier way—measure your waist and hips.
Abdominal obesity is a major indicator of excess insulin production. So, grab a tape measure and check your circumference at the navel and at the widest part of your hips. In men, if your waist measurement is larger than your hips, you’ve got Syndrome X. In women, the waist should be less than 80% of the hip measurement.
Another indicator of Syndrome X is your triglyceride and HDL levels in routine blood tests. If your triglyceride level is greater than 200 or your HDL level is less than 35, you’re having problems with excess insulin production and insulin resistance.
Here are some contributing factors to the development of syndrome X:
• Low fat diets or diets high in saturated fat.
• Too many omega-6 essential fatty acids in the diet, with insufficient omega-3.
• Sedentary life-styles and lack of exercise.
• Deficiencies of dietary chromium and magnesium. Deficiencies of zinc, manganese, vanadium, B-vitamins and vitamin A may also be involved.
• Eating foods that trigger excess insulin production—especially refined carbohydrates.
• High carbohydrate, low protein diets.
Overcoming Metabolic Syndrome
The secret to correcting metabolic syndrome X lies in some basic life-style changes. The first is resistance exercise. Resistance exercise trains muscles to take up glucose without the need for insulin, thereby decreasing insulin requirements. After just five days of no exercise insulin resistance increases. Conversely, when we do exercises like weight lifting sufficient to make our muscles “burn” a little, we are causing our muscle tissue to take up sugar without insulin. Thus, a program of muscle building exercise (at least three times per week) will help Syndrome X and reduce our risk of heart disease, diabetes and obesity.
A second secret is changing the kinds of fats we consume. Transfatty acids, found in margarine and vegetable oils, and saturated fats increase cellular resistance to insulin. Most vegetable oils are high in omega-6 fatty acids, but deficient in omega-3 fatty acids, which decrease insulin resistance. Switch from vegetable oils and hydrogenated fats (fries, chips, pastries, bagels, etc.) to high quality fats like olive oil, butter and flax seed oil.
A third secret is to avoid refined carbohydrates. Get on a low glycemic diet, cutting out grain, sugars and high starch foods from your diet. Eat lots of non-starchy fruits and vegetables instead.
An appropriate program of dietary supplements will also help to overcome hyperinsulinemia (but not without appropriate dietary changes). Here are some suggestions.
An excessive desire for sugar-containing foods is often a sign of yeast infections, mineral deficiencies or blood sugar problems. Xylitol and Stevia can be used as natural alternatives to refined sugar, but the real “cure” is to start the day off with good quality fats and proteins and avoid refined carbohydrates. Follow the instructions for the Low Glycemic Diet in the Introduction and try some of the following supplements.