If you’ve ever tried quitting sugar, you know its one of the hardest habits to break. The addiction potential of cane sugar, and artificial sugars is so high, you don’t quite know how much until you try to stop all together. If you’re ready to kick the habit, here are a few supportive treatments you can try to minimize the side effects of sugar withdrawal.
When you eat sugar, your insulin levels rise (read all about the biochemistry here) to signal the cells to bring the sugar into your cells. Tagging along with the sugar, is many different amino acids that get pulled into your cells with it – except for tryptophan. Tryptophan is left to circulate in your blood stream and head to the brain to be converted into serotonin. Y’all have heard of serotonin right – the ‘anti-depressant’ neurotransmitter?
You’ve eaten sugar and now your brain is being flooded with happiness hormones; what happens during the down time between your next insulin spike? Serotonin levels drop and your body naturally starts seeking out substances that will increase those levels. So you start craving sugar.
5-HTP is an amino acid and the middle step in the conversion of tryptophan to serotonin. By supplementing with 5-HTP you can help stop the drop in serotonin levels and curb your sugar cravings while you’re working to kick your sugar habits. Read more about the biochemistry of serotonin here.
This herb is a great way to re-train you taste buds to not be so sensitive to the taste of sugar. The active constituent in Gymnema blocks the sweet receptors on your tongue, and stops those receptors from firing to your brain. A big part of kicking your sugar habit is retraining your brain and changing your routines to make not eating sugar a part of your daily life.
It also has other great benefits such as decreasing the amount of glucose that is absorbed in the intestines and helping overcome insulin resistance in type 2 diabetics.
Cinnamon bark: supplement or sticks
You thought this delicious plant was only used for holiday beverages but you would be surprised to find out that cinnamon is great at helping to stabilize your blood sugars. One way that causes you to have an intense sugar craving is from a sudden dip in blood sugar levels. Your body becomes desperate for immediate glucose, and your brain gives you the signal for an immediate Dr. Pepper.
By taking Cinnamon bark in supplement form or nibbling on those pretty cinnamon sticks can help save you from blood sugar crashes.
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Increase protein at every meal
Protein sources are packed with essential amino acids that are used in the creation of brain neurotransmitters. We talked about amino acids and their role in serotonin production above and how it affects your sugar cravings. In addition to helping support neurotransmitter production, protein consumption doesn’t cause a huge spike in your insulin levels. You can think of it like riding a roller coaster, the higher the hill, the larger the fall. When the hill is lower, you don’t get that steep downhill and all the sugar cravings that come with blood sugar dropping fast.
Drinking plenty of water
Your body is made up of majority water, so it would be common sense that lack of water can cause some confusing brain signals.
Water (H2O if you remember from chemistry class) is necessary in the biochemical reactions that take place in the breakdown of glycogen to supply your body with fuel when in-between meals. If you’re dehydrated, it can make it difficult for the liver and muscles to release the glycogen fuel from their stored spots and give you the boost you need. This can start to cause cravings of immediate sources of glucose (sugar) because it breaks down the fastest and provides the biggest spike in blood sugar.
So to treat your sugar cravings, how about we just avoid them altogether and drink some water?
The benefits of kicking that sugar habit are just too rewarding to not give it your all and quit sugar altogether. If you’re looking for further reading many authors have tackled the subject of sugar, its addiction potential, and why its terribly detrimental to your health – check out: The Case Against Sugar (Gary Taubes) for well researched information!
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Dr. Cassie Wilder is a registered Naturopathic Medical Doctor (NMD) and founder of MIMC. Her passion is empowering her patients through education, understanding, and support through their healing journey. After graduating from Iowa State University with a Bachelors of Science in Kinesiology and Health, Dr. Wilder earned her Doctorate of Naturopathic Medicine from Southwest College of Naturopathic Medicine & Health Sciences, a fully accredited and nationally recognized institution in Phoenix, AZ. During her clinical training, she received extensive hands-on training with many leading experts in the field of functional medicine and developed a passion for treating hormonal imbalances, thyroid disorders, cardiovascular concerns, and adrenal fatigue.