A Holistic Approach to a Sugar Addiction
Photo by Rod Long on Unsplash
Sugar addiction is a very real phenomenon these days. In fact for many people, sugar consumption can dictate their entire mood for the evening if they don’t get their afternoon sugar fix to keep them going! So is sugar really that addictive?
Is sugar addiction real?
Sugar is the main ingredient used by the food industry to make harmful ingredients like processed foods and chemicals taste better. Mark Hyman, MD reported to the Huffington Post that a study he conducted with his colleagues at Harvard showed that foods with more sugar, foods that raise blood sugar even more than table sugar such as white flour, white potatoes and refined starch have a high glycemic index, which triggers a special region in the brain called nucleus accumbens, known for conventional additions like gambling or drug abuse.
The Sugar Study
In a new study, researchers took 12 overweight or obese men between 18 and 35 years old and gave them a low sugar or low glycemic index (37%) milkshake. Four hours later they measured the activity of the nucleus accumbens, blood sugar and hunger levels. Days later, participants were given another milkshake designed to taste exactly the same but was higher in sugar with a high glycemic index (84%). The shakes had the same amount of calories, protein, fat, and carbohydrates. Results showed that the high sugar or glycemic index milkshake caused a spike in blood sugar and insulin and an increase in reported hunger and cravings four hours after the shake was consumed. The breakthrough – when the high glycemic shake was consumed, the nucleus accumbens lit up in every single participant. This means that the body responds differently to different calories and foods that spike blood sugar are biologically addictive.
According to Mark Hyman, MD, here are 5 clues you may be addicted to sugar, flour and processed food –
- You consume certain foods even if you are not hungry because of cravings
- You worry about cutting down on certain foods
- You feel sluggish or fatigued from overeating
- You have health or social problems (affecting school or work) because of food issues and yet keep eating the way you do despite negative consequences
- You need more and more of the foods you crave to experience any pleasure or reduce these negative emotions
Natural Options for Healthy Blood Sugar Balance
According to Nicole Crane, BTS, NP, hundreds of years ago, most people ate as little as 21 teaspoons of sugar per year. Today, the average American consumes between 150 and 180 pounds of sugar each year! There are some nutrients, herbs and proteins that help keep blood sugar levels in balance and kick sugar cravings for good!
Whey Protein has been shown to aid in healthy insulin production and help the body use glucose more efficiently. It also seems to have a beneficial effect on satiety and can slow down the rate at which food levels the stomach.
Zinc plays an important role in insulin metabolism, as well as extending the length of time that insulin is active after a meal. Magnesium plays an important role as well, maintaining the proper insulin sensitivity where cells can efficiently respond to signals for insulin.
Research has shown the omega-3 fats from krill and fish oil activates receptors that block inflammatory pathrways and turn inflammation off, restoring insulin sensitivity and bringing blood sugar closer to healthy levels.
Alpha-lipoid Acid (ALA) is a powerful antioxidant that holds a number of benefits for blood sugar balance, as it defends our tissues from damage, aging and inflammation.