Thursday, January 24, 2013

Naturopathic Nutrition Advice: Root Veggies to Curb Sugar Cravings

If you are a self proclaimed sweet tooth and have intense cravings for sweets, as a Naturopathic Physician, I look at a couple of causes. There is usually a degree of imbalance within the body that is creating the symptom of sugar cravings. 

More of the time the sugar cravings are rooted in two significant factors:
  • Yeast Imbalance
  • Mineral Deficiency

The former requires months of detoxification and yeast balance with the use of probiotics, sugar elimination and enzyme rich programs. A less recognized cause of sugar cravings is a yeast or fungal infection in the digestive tract.  These have a high sugar demand, leaving the host craving sugary foods to feed the infection.  Other causes can include fluctuations in blood glucose levels due to food allergies or food sensitivities.

The yeast is a serious issue and is enhanced with the consumption of sugar-rich foods, alcohol and prescription drugs like antibiotics.

The later is an easier fix.

Let's talk about Mineral Deficiency.  Our day to day lives - the fast paced, fast food lifestyles we lead and the consumption of more processed less fresh and raw foods yields a diet that is lacking in minerals.  Couple that with our poor water sources, high intake of caffeine, sodas and alcohol and you have a body that is deficient.

There are two classes of minerals, major minerals and trace minerals. Even though trace minerals are required in very small amounts, they are indeed essential to good health.

Some of the common mineral deficiencies are:
  • Iodine deficiency
  • Iron deficiency
  • Calcium deficiency
  • Magnesium deficiency
  • Potassium deficiency 
These can yield significant health crisis or imbalances in our organs, glandular systems and even our bone structure.    Minerals are the building blocks and foundational elements to a healthy existance.

Some diets like a high protein diet requires higher levels of calcium.  Without the calcium intake to match the requirements of a high protein diet, the body will pull calcium from itself-- bone and teeth -- yielding a deficiency and even long term ailments like osteoperosis.

Deficiencies of minerals creates a situation where the body craves sweets.  It's a common symptom and can be very easy to correct.  Apart from taking a very good multi mineral a day- which for most people is a good idea as a compliment to our diets, eating foods that are rich in minerals is essential to maintaining healthy mineral balance.

The one thing I love about foods is that nature has already worked out the right balance and harmony within the food itself.  Where we might need vitamin K to help assimilate one particular mineral- the food is complete with the right levels of each vitamin and mineral.

To help curb sweet cravings you'll want to eat more of these foods:

Root Veggies - beets, carrots, potatoes
Sweet Potatoes & Yams
Sunflower Seeds
Pumpkin Seeds
Steamed Spinach
Steamed collard greens
Steamed kale
Seafood - oysters, clams, scallops
Organic Beef/Veal
Free Range Eggs/Chicken

Consuming protein is essential to getting core minerals into the body.  I work with a lot of vegetarians and vegans who crave sweets in a bad way.  Their cravings are simply a way their body is communicating deficiency.  We'll look at adding a good veggie based protein to their diet with amino acids and antioxidants.

If you find yourself having a hard time cutting your sugar cravings, start by looking at changing your diet a bit and begin adding a good mineral supplement.

Please comment or send me any questions you might have as you journey to curb your sweet tooth.

Melissa Gallagher, Naturopath
Healthy Being Wellness Center
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