Chronic health conditions (type 2 diabetes, obesity, cardiovascular disease, arthritis and high blood pressure) have all been linked to high blood sugar, insulin resistance and chronic inflammation. Eating a diet high in sugar (including loading up on carbohydrates on a regular basis), can lead to blood sugar imbalances that cause inflammation and the overproduction of inflammatory cytokines. Refined carbohydrates are digested in our system just like sugar, causing insulin to spike, and causing our brain to light up its reward center, which feels great until an hour or two later when the sugar crash happens, and you crave more to keep your energy and/or mood up. (Sugar hits all the same brain regions that addictive drugs do, therefore, you will typically have to deal with cravings to get your body back into balance).
If your cells have all the energy they need (glucose), then the excess is stored as fat. When this excess of sugar happens every day, it leads to chronically elevated blood sugar levels, resulting in advanced glycation end products (AGE’S) that increase inflammation and oxidative stress. (1, 2)
Here are some tips to ease sugar cravings:
Drink water – your body stores about 3 grams of water for every gram of glucose you store, (which means you are storing extra water with your carbs). When you eat too much sugar or refined carbs, you are storing several hundred grams into storage as glycogen, which explains the water you put on after eating a lot of carbs. Drinking more water than you normally would during times when you are eating a lot of carbs and sugar, will prevent dehydration which in turn can lead to fatigue and headaches.
Add electrolytes – When you go on a low-carb, low-sugar diet, your body will burn through your carb stores and release all the water it held onto, and you’ll lose a lot of sodium and potassium with it. Adding salt and a good potassium supplement is a good strategy to decrease fatigue and dehydration, which can lead to headaches.
Don’t skip meals – On days after you’ve eaten too much sugar and/or carbs, you’re better off eating high quality food, rather than fasting. It may be tempting to balance out the extra calories from sugar or carbs by not eating, however, better to balance your blood sugar levels with great quality foods, such as vegetables, protein and good fats. Also, stabilizing your blood sugar will prevent you from relapsing into more sugar/carb binges.
Eat at regular intervals – Listen to your body and eat when you are hungry, and stop eating before you are full. To give your body the building blocks it needs to repair itself, eating an anti-inflammatory diet is one of the best things we can do. This will prevent further sugar cravings and give the body all the nutrients it needs to keep cravings at bay.
1. Zeyda, M, Stulning, TM, Obesity, Inflammation, and Insulin Resistance – A Mini-Review. Gerontology.
2. Basta, G, Schmidt, AM, De Caterina, R. Advanced glycation end products and vascular inflammation: implications for accelerated atherosclerosis in diabetes.
A favorite recipe to stop sugar cravings, and provide good fat:
Toasted Macadamia Nuts:
1 pound of Macadamia nuts, or about
1 cup (or 2) Coconut Flakes
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground allspice
½ teaspoon ground clove
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
Heat oven to 350 degrees, and cook for 10-20 minutes, and be sure to stir often to prevent burning. Enjoy!