Cravings - What Your Body Is Telling You
Is there a connection between specific food cravings and a deficiency in your body? Dr. Timothy Brantley demystifies food cravings by explaning what your body is really saying it needs and tells you how to give into them -- without giving into unhealthy habits.
You're overwhelmed by the sudden urge for chocolate in any form! You've raided the pantry to no avail so you get in the car and drive to the nearest gas station just for a candy bar.
What your body is telling you: "One of the main reasons you crave chocolate is because your body is low in serotonin," says Dr. Brantley. "Serotonin is a calming neurotransmitter that makes people feel relaxed and satisfied, and one that is essential for a well-balanced mood. Chocolate contains tryptophan, an essential amino acid, which plays a role in the production of serotonin. Women especially crave chocolate because the fluctuating of estrogen and progesterone levels before and during the menstrual cycle has a tendency to lower serotonin which can make them feel stressed mentally, physically and emotionally. The serotonin boost from chocolate usually calms, relaxes and satisfies them.
Another reason we may crave chocolate is because of low levels of magnesium. One of the most important macro minerals in the body, magnesium is involved in hundreds of different bodily functions. If your magnesium levels are low, chocolate can help to fill in the gap because chocolate contains magnesium!"
How to curb the craving: "If you eat raw chocolate or cocoa powder, you will be getting the magnesium and the serotonin that your body is craving without the adverse affects caused by refined sugar," he recommends. "If you can find unprocessed dark chocolate without sugar, that's great."
Someone in your office came back with french fries. The smell alone is making you drool so you spend two bucks in change at the vending machine on bags of chips and pretzels.
What your body is telling you: "In the processing and refining of natural salt to table salt, the balance of the salt and minerals is deeply disturbed. Your salt craving is actually a craving for those missing minerals, nutrients, and water," Dr. Brantley says. "Other important reasons for craving salt can be due to adrenal or thyroid insufficiency. If your adrenals and your thyroid are not operating properly, it can greatly affect your energy and metabolism. Refined table salt can be connected to a myriad of health problems from dehydration and mineral imbalances to hypertension and other problems."
How to curb the craving: "Raw sea salt contains the minerals, elements and isotopes in a more balanced form. This helps to feed, balance and hydrate the cells," he advises. "If you have bouts of low energy due to tired adrenals, your sodium, minerals and nutrients may be out of balance. Adequate amounts of the balanced nutrients found in natural sea salt will help maintain and correct these imbalances. Also, foods high in natural sodium and balanced minerals like celery, kelp powder and seaweed will help correct and maintain proper balance in our cells."
You're in the middle of a shopping spree and find you're suddenly craving a cup of joe. Come to think of it, you always seem to make a caffeine run around the same time every day.
What your body is telling you: "Your body is telling you that you are addicted," points out Dr. Brantley. "Although many people try to say that they drink it for the taste, it is mostly the physical addiction that has them hooked. Caffeine is used for a quick energy boost, both physically and mentally. Many people use it to wake up as a jump-start if they feel that their gas tank is on empty. It is a central nervous system stimulant that also whips our organs and glands into a frenzy. Caffeine liberates the cellular energy (ATP) out of our cells. If there is not enough energy in our cells, it then forces the release of energy from our body's reserves. After continual and prolonged use of caffeine, our energy reserve tank eventually runs low and the body becomes exhausted."
How to curb the craving: "Instead of coffee, try decaffeinated green tea," he suggests. "If you do drink coffee, compensate by drinking an equal amount of water. Withdraw slowly, the side effects from caffeine can be intense."
Forget Atkins! You're on the prowl for carbs -- the more refined the better. Doughnuts, muffins, bagels ... yes, please!
What your body is telling you: "Most of my clinical patients, like everyone else in this country, are on what I call the daily 'roller coaster diet,'" says Dr. Brantley. "We generally start off our morning with some form of 'easy-to-grab' refined carbohydrates: a bagel, cereal, toast and jelly, a muffin or doughnuts. These quick-releasing sugar foods give us a forced, false explosion of energy ... a quick fix! Our blood sugars shoot up too quickly and then we crash. Our body goes back into a crisis mode soon after, and we restart the vicious cycle of craving instant energy all over again."
How to curb the craving: "Instead of eating quick-releasing refined sugar foods, eat foods with slow releasing energy that will help keep your blood sugars balanced," he recommends. "These are foods like whole grains such as whole brown rice or whole oats with nuts, whole grain cereal with nuts and flax and coconut oil. And always eat some quality protein, a healthy fat and healthy oils at your meals."
The Benefits of Water
"After years of treating thousands of patients in my clinical practice, I discovered that when we feel hungry and we are craving food, a large percentage of the time our bodies are actually begging us for water, not food!" says Dr. Brantley. "The most important thing your cells need besides air is water. We are predominantly made up of water, we use it in all of our functions and it needs to be replaced constantly. All nutrients get delivered to the cells via water so no water means no nutrients. When our body is dehydrated, nothing operates efficiently so our body goes into crisis mode, which sets off an alarm for water and the nutrients it carries. Most of the time we misinterpret that alarm for water as a false signal for food, so we eat when we are really thirsty and starving for water."
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