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Sugar Craving: a Disease of Energy Production

by Jurriaan Plesman, BA(Psych, Post Grad Dip Clin Nutr

The cravings we sometimes have is a sign that the body is looking for certain nutrients in order to manufacture the feel good neurotransmitters , such as serotonin.

This goes to show that neurotransmitters are assembled from ingredients in food we ingest, and this is one of the main reasons why I believe, that endogenous depression is a nutritional disorder.

The food cravings is usually related to sugary foods, but may include non-sugary foods such as cravings for food containing certain nutrients necessary in serotonin production. One such nutrient is vitamin B12 (especially among vegetarians) and folic acid, because these nutrients are necessary in the formation of SAM-e an antidepressant nutrient as we all know. There are many other nutrients that may be missing such as zinc, vitamin B6, niacin (B3), vitamin D (the sunshine vitamin), chromium, magnesium and many more – all nutrients required in serotonin production. These nutrients should be obtained from a natural diet such as the hypoglycemic diet.

Another nutrient is glucose (high in sugary foods), that is converted by a biochemical pathway called glycolysis, into biological energy or adenosinetriphosphate ( ATP ).

Without ATP the body cannot produce the feel good neurotransmitters.

It is when something goes wrong in sugar metabolism that the hypothalamus – the major appetite centre in the brain – is given the wrong signals. When we have Insulin Resistance leading to hypoglycemic symptoms, the body is craving for biological energy, because cells are starved of glucose that is NOT converted to energy, when we have insulin resistance. This can also lead to weight gain as excess unused glucose is stored in fat cells. This also explains Syndrome X , which is known among doctors as the forerunner of diabetes and cardiovascular diseases.

When sugar is consumed the body increases its insulin secretion from the pancreas. Insulin is a hormone that pushes nutrients (glucose, fatty acids and amino acids – proteins) across cell membranes. However it does not affect tryptophan – the nutritional forerunner of serotonin. Thus sugary foods triggers insulin secretion leaving tryptophan available for immediate conversion to serotonin with the help of vitamin B6, and magnesium (and some other coenzymes ). And presto when we eat sugar we feel happy.

Thus sugary foods helps to increase serotonin production.

The trouble is that addiction to sugary foods may aggravate the inherent insulin resistance, that is the very cause of sugar addiction. When the body is bombarded with sugar, it threatens organs, because excess sugar (glucose) oxidizes into free radicals that is responsible for many degenerative diseases apart from depression. Read:

146 reasons sugar can harm your health by Nancy Appleton

The only way of beating sugar addiction is going on a Hypoglycemic Diet if it is related to a faulty insulin secretion.

Another possibility for unreasonable cravings may be due, not so much to insulin resistance, but rather to Hypothyroidism and Hypoglycia. These mechanisms are discussed here.

This will no doubt increase the sugar cravings initially, but this can be treated by taking glycerine .  There are many other supplements and herbs to allay sugar cravings as well as cravings for drugs and alcohol. See Beth M. Ley Jacobs 1999, 23. This is converted to glucose in the liver and slowly released into the blood stream. It is not controlled by the pancreas, hence there is no excess insulin reaction.  Coconut Oil can also reduce cravings, reduce obesity, improve thyroid function and insulin resistance.

Take one tablespoon of glycerine, mixed in a glass of water with a dash of lemonade to improve taste. You can make a bottle of this and drink this three times a day. It will stop sugar cravings, may improve depression and sleeping patterns, avoid the secretion of excess stress hormones. When you are on the hypoglycemic diet, the body will gradually learn to obtain glucose from other than refined carbohydrates – as it should – and restore proper glucose metabolism, so necessary in serotonin production.

Another substance that can allay cravings is taking glutamine or taking  Rhodiola rosea.

There is a saying: “An apple a day, keeps the doctor away” and the reason is that an apple provides not only roughage, but is also an anti-diabetic or sugar controlling fruit,

Other herbs with a hypoglycemic action can be found here.

Please discuss this article with your health care worker, doctor or nutritional doctor or therapist.

Also read:

Depression: a Disease of Energy Production which explains the association of SAM-E and energy.

Beth M Ley Jacobs (1999), Nature’s Road to Recovery, BL Publications

Nutrients against Drugs and Alcohol –> Page 2

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