We have all experienced sugar cravings in some form or fashion. We eat one cookie and feel compelled to keep going until the bag is done! We feel tired and want a quick pickup, so we eat a candy bar or café mocha. We feel a little down and we crave a bite of chocolate. We just had dinner but we don’t feel satisfied until we’ve had a dessert. Between meals we crave some type of carbohydrate and don’t feel satisfied with an apple, egg, or carrot as a snack. We need that morning coffee or afternoon café mocha with the whip cream and chocolate drizzle to keep us going for a few hours before dinner.

Those with chronic illness such as chronic fatigue, fibromyalgia, eczema, seasonal allergies, candidiasis, pre-diabetics, Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, arthritis, migraines, PMS, insulin resistance as in Syndrome X, adrenal fatigue, low blood sugar, and even the stressed, depressed and moody individuals will find themselves being driven by their cravings for sweets, either for energy or simply to satisfy the body’s apparent urge. Being driven by one’s sugar cravings are a sign of imbalance in the body. But what are some factors that cause this imbalance? Here are a few key ones to consider:

1)      You are not breaking down your carbohydrates into simple sugars

2)      You have developed an immune sensitivity to some sugars

3)      You’ve developed insulin resistance

4)      Your brain’s opoid receptors are driving the cravings

5)      You have low cortisol function

6)      You are not eating enough protein

7)      You have systemic viral, bacteria or fungal overgrowth in the body

8)      You have an overgrowth of yeast or candida in the digestive tract (leaky gut)

9)      You are magnesium deficient

10)  Your cravings are an emotional response to stress, boredom or emotional repressio

When Sugar Digestion Goes Wrong

Normally when we eat any form of carbohydrate (starchy vegetable like potatoes, bread, honey, cereal, candies, pastries, cookies) our body takes enzymes made in our mouth and digestive tract to break down the “complex” carbohydrate from its polysaccharide chain to unlink them into simple sugars such as glucose, maltose etc.. It is these simple sugars that then fit into specific receptors sites on our cells and are transported into the cell and used for energy. A “complex” polysaccharide is too large of a molecule to fit into the cell receptor site for the sugar. Therefore, if we do not break down our carbohydrates into these “simple” sugars, then our cells will go without the essential energy they need as fuel. The result of inadequate cellular fuel from simple sugars is that the cell will send out signals to the body to eat carbohydrates, as if we never ate them, even if we’ve just eaten! The cells are telling us they need fuel, but we just ate!

A chain reaction is now set up that depends upon additional factors such as the amount, type and frequency a carbohydrate is eaten, and the development of cellular resistance to absorption of sugars, also known as insulin resistance. When the cell is unable to absorb its needed simple sugars, it prompts the body to increase the secretion of insulin which aids the cell to take in sugar. The problem is that if we are not breaking down our carbohydrates into simple sugars, then all the insulin in the world will not help that cell to get its simple sugars! The resulting “excess” insulin that is unable to “escort” the simple sugar to the cell receptor site begins to irritate the cell membrane causing the cell to ignore insulin’s signal. It is as if someone cries wolf repeatedly, soon everyone ignores the cry. The problem with ineffective breakdown of one’s carbohydrates into simple sugars and the resulting prompt of extra insulin secreted is that the cell still goes hungry and so your cravings persist, insulin resistance develops.

The third complication of inefficient breakdown of carbohydrates is the development of immune sensitivities to carbohydrates and simple sugars. This occurs because in the above example, when you have undigested carbohydrates in the form of long chain polysaccharides and unabsorbed simple sugars, they remain outside the cells and have to be removed by the body. Your white bloods cells see these unabsorbed polysaccharides as “foreign” and the more often they see them (based upon the frequency and amount you eat them) you begin to train your immune system to remember them. Anything the immune system remembers, it will react to, which is called an inflammatory response.

Immune Matrix has found consistently with its patients that those most chronic with allergies, chronic immune disorders such as eczema, asthma, seasonal allergies, chemical sensitivities, hives, chronic fatigue, fibromyalgia, arthritis, candidiasis, bloating, irritable bowel, adrenal fatigue, anyone with sugar cravings, has generally developed some type of immune sensitivity to some or many sugars and has compromises in their ability to break down carbohydrates into simple sugars.

The Type of Carbohydrate Eaten Can Drive the Cravings

There are two ways the type of carbohydrates you eat can drive your cravings. In the first type, the carbohydrate stimulates opoid receptors in the brain, creating a positive brain chemistry response. Unfortunately, the brain loves these opoids because of the mood it creates, either calmness or euphoria, and when the opoids wear off, the brain prompts us through our cravings to seek out more of those rewarding carbohydrates. Gluten and gliadin from wheat and white flour, oats, rye, spelt and rye all are known to stimulate opoid receptors in the brain to different degrees of intensity. This is why having a single cookie made of wheat or white flour can be impossible to stop at one! Our brain chemistry has become stimulated and now seeks to feed and continue the opoid response.

The second way that the type of carbohydrate can drive your cravings involves your immune system. When the immune system has developed a recognition for a type of sugar, or carbohydrate, it fosters a craving for it. The exact mechanism that creates the craving is not well understood. However, before and after blood tests for antigen titers to the sugar or carbohydrate decline and are eliminated over time after de-sensitization of the immune system to the substance. The result of de-sensitization is to stop immune interference in the breakdown of polysaccharides in the digestive process and its reactivity to the food you take in. The end result of improved sugar digestion is the elimination of specific food cravings!

Part 2 of 4 will discuss three more factors that contribute to sugar cravings.

Please note:
Information on this site is provided for informational purposes only and is not intended as a substitute for the advice provided by your physician or other healthcare professional. You should not use the information on this site for diagnosing or treating a health problem or disease, or prescribing any medication or other treatment.

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Anna Manayan

Anna Manayan