After back to back holidays with ample opportunity to overindulge in sweets, breads, pastas or other empty carbs, food cravings can take on a life of their own. If you have been beating yourself up for lack of will power, don’t. Cravings are the body’s tap on the shoulder saying, “We need to talk!” They are an indication that something is wrong. There are many reasons for food cravings. In this article I will discuss the most prevalent, Candida.
Candida is a type of yeast in the small intestines. It lives on empty carbs, alcohol and sweets. The more of these you consume, the more the Candida grows, and the more out of control these cravings become. It can get to the point where you live from one sweet or junk food indulgence to the next. You know to the last cookie what you have in your cupboard, so you can plan where and when to get your next fix. One chocolate square or a small bowl of chips turns into more, until you have eaten an entire package. It is satisfying just as long as it lasts, then the Candida demands more. When Candida is in control, sweets and junk food call to you. When you are in control of the Candida, you can easily abstain, or have one or two small bites and be satisfied. It is possible to conquer these cravings.
Candida results from the overgrowth of negative bacteria in the small intestines. This creates a welcoming environment for the yeast to flourish. Think of Candida as weeds, and the positive bacteria in the gut as grass. Antibiotics from the doctor, or in meats, poultry, eggs, or dairy products that are not free range or organic, are like using Round-Up on a lawn. The antibiotics kill off the positive and negative bacteria in our small intestines. What comes back first? The weeds (Candida) which chokes out the grass (positive bacteria).
A major factor in determining overall health is your gut flora, the bacteria in your small intestines. It helps determine if you are fat or skinny, if you are are mentally sharp, if your mood is positive or negative, if you can be around someone with a cold or flu, or any other disease, and catch it or not, your energy level, and your ability to assimilate the nutrients required for your body to function and heal. An imbalance of gut flora can also initiate uncontrollable food cravings.
We are born with no gut flora. We obtain our first strains from our mothers when passing through the birth canal. By the time we are adults, we have ten pounds of gut flora and more different types of bacteria than there are dollars in our national debt.
Do probiotics re-establish this gut flora? They help but, as I mentioned in last month’s article, probiotics are like planting a few annual flowers in a huge botanical garden. They add about five to six different strains of bacteria that lasts in the gut for about five to six hours. Is this beneficial? Yes, but what we really need to do is to fertilize all the plants in the garden and protect them from the overgrowth of weeds, the Candida.
Candida can cause abdominal bloating, depression, lethargy, foggy thinking, short term memory problems, rashes, and aches and pains throughout the body. Candida is a predominant cause of bladder and yeast infections in women. It is typically a major component of Irritable Bowel Syndrome, ADD and ADHD, and Fibromyalgia.
To treat Candida, I prescribe a nutritional supplement that kills it, and curbs the cravings, like a weed killer. Then we have to build the positive bacteria, or fertilizer, to prevent the weeds from taking over again.
There are other problems to test for that contribute to Candida. Heavy metal toxicity, blood sugar imbalances stemming from diet, pancreas, thyroid, adrenal or gallbladder weakness are common issues I help patients address to resolve food cravings. As we are all biochemically individual, with different underlying health challenges, each patient has a different protocol.
Dehydration can also be a major problem this time of year. If you aren’t drinking enough pure water, the body often thinks it is hungry. Since most people in this country are conditioned to drink ice water, something unappealing in cold weather, people have a tendency to drink less than they should in winter months. Drinking room temperature, warm or hot, pure water throughout the day, can cut down on food cravings.
New Year’s resolutions are a fine thing unless they are unrealistic and unattainable. To conquer cravings you need to understand what is going on, and what needs to be done about it. Seeking professional help can save an enormous amount of time and frustration. Conquering cravings can be easier than you think.
Health and Happiness,
Nancy Burton, L.Ac.
Nancy Burton, L.Ac.
534 Washington, Street
Ashland, OR 97520
Check out her website here