Why do I crave sugar?
You may crave sugary foods for many reasons. As I explained earlier, refined sugar stresses the pancreas and depletes the body's supplies of chromium. A common symptom of chromium deficiency is sugar cravings. And satisfying these cravings further lowers chromium and increases cravings. And eating sweets is just plain pleasurable. Chocolate, for example, has been found to stimulate the production of serotonin, the feel-good brain chemical.
But the human body is drawn to carbohydrates for reasons other than instant gratification. Carbohydrates are necessary for metabolic processes in our body. Whole, unrefined carbohydrates like grains break down into sugar when chewed. After proper chewing, grains will taste sweet. Grains contain B vitamins and magnesium, these nutrients are important co-factors in hundreds of metabolic processes in the body. And the sweetness of the foods that contain B-vitamins and magnesium may create a conditioned response to these foods. In other words, sweetness makes your body think you are getting beneficial vitamins and minerals. But when we get empty carbs like sugar with no other nutrients—the body craves more and more to try to meet its nutrient demands.
So, if your body needs these vitamins and minerals and is attracted to carbohydrates to get them, and if instead of a whole grain you eat a refined empty product, then you will probably keep craving carbohydrates until you get the vitamins and minerals you need. That's why many doctors recommend B-complex vitamins and magnesium supplements help to control carbohydrate addiction. Of course, eating organic whole grains would be the optimum solution.
The main reason for our sugar cravings it that we've had a lifetime of refined sugar. It's in baby food, snacks and treats at every turn; Madison Avenue is able to sell 10 cents worth of junk food for $2.00 because it appeals to our sweet tooth. We're hooked and we're not complaining as long as the supply holds out. And as Dr. Hoffer says it's a stronger addiction than heroin.
Another cause of sugar cravings is a yeast overgrowth, also known as candidaisis. Candida is a yeast that is naturally present in the human body. But some things, such as antibiotics and too much sugar in the diet, can cause the yeast to multiply, leading a number of health problems, from vaginal yeast infections to severe fatigue. And these yeast, when present in abnormally high numbers, can cause strong cravings for sweet, starchy foods, causing the problem to perpetuate. (If you suspect a yeast overgrowth, your doctor can perform a saliva or stool test for yeast antibodies.) (Dr. Dean is the medical advisor to yeastconnection.com. Visitors to the site can take the Yeast Questionnaire to help determine if they have a yeast problem. If so, a 6-Point Yeast Fighting Program will help eliminate the sugar and yeast from your life.)
Are natural sweeteners like honey better than white sugar?
Regardless of what kind of sweeteners you eat, they should account for no more than 5 percent of your daily calories. Some natural sweeteners, such as blackstrap molasses, unprocessed honey, fruit juice, brown rice syrup, and evaporated cane juice do contain low levels of nutrients, such as the B vitamins, and minerals such as iron, calcium and potassium. But don't be fooled, these "natural" sweeteners are only marginally better than plain white table sugar and dietary intake of them should be limited.