Do you need a caffeine shot to kick start your day? Do your energy levels drop by mid-afternoon? If you answered yes, then you’re not alone! Remarkably a few simple changes can turn this around.
Why is sugar a problem?
Sugar creates problems because the more you eat it, the more your body’s sugar levels fluctuate up and down as insulin is released in an effort to stabilize blood sugar levels in your body. The other problem is that once people start to crave its sweetness, they choose foods with a high sugar content over foods with greater nutritional value, such as fruit. Eventually this can lead to type-2 diabetes, a condition that is increasingly common in adult Australians, and becoming alarmingly common in children.
Balancing sugar levels
All foods have a sugar content rated 1 to 100, with pure sugar having a rating of 100. To avoid wildly fluctuating blood sugar levels, always choose low glycaemic index (GI) foods with a rating of 50 or below. These foods have a lower sugar content, which means they are slower to digest and keep you feeling full for longer. Most importantly, they keep your blood sugar levels stable.
It’s okay to start your day with a coffee or tea, but make sure you eat a breakfast containing low GI foods, such as porridge, wholegrain bread or baked beans, and continue to eat low GI foods throughout the day to help reduce cravings for sugary snacks. Premenstrual sugar cravings, however, are often harder to tame.
Chocolate cravings are a classic indicator of the body being low in magnesium, which is typical in women who suffer from premenstrual syndrome. In these instances, additional supplements may be necessary to get sugar cravings under control.
Supplements that help
The herb Gymnema (Gymnema sylvestre) has been used in traditionally in Ayurvedic medicine for over 2,000 years. Gymnema is known as the ‘sugar destroyer’ because chewing the leaf of this plant suppresses the ability to taste sweetness on the tongue. Modern research has found that Gymnema has a glucose moderating effect when taken as a tablet or capsule, helping suppress glucose absorption from the intestine after ingestion in people who have blood sugar levels within the normal range. Gymnema extracts are even sold in Japan for weight loss and obesity control, since the suppression of sweet cravings and decrease in appetite aids in the reduction of food intake and hence calories.
Additional herbs to help
The herbs Liquorice and Siberian Ginseng are helpful as they support the adrenal glands, which produce cortisol, a hormone that helps the body adapt to intermittent food intake by keeping blood sugar levels fairly constant. These herbs should be used with caution by people suffering from high blood pressure, however, as they are known to elevate blood pressure. Liver herbs such as Dandelion are also beneficial, since the liver plays a role in a maintaining stable blood glucose levels.
Tips for reducing your sugar intake
- Replace chocolates and lollies with fresh fruits.
- Keep healthy snacks in your car or bag to avoid being tempted by sugary snacks.
- Read food labels on processed products to see how much sugar they contain.
- Try taking a supplement that helps reduce sugar cravings, such as Gymnema.