Cravings and nutritional deficiencies

by Lorena Valeri, naturopath What do you crave?   Sweet, salty, fatty or starchy, other? According to Vera Tweed (2015), experts are now saying that although unhealthy eating habits are formed in childhood, there is hope for us yet; they now believe that the brain can be re-programmed for a healthier culinary experience. Also studies showed that although some cravings can highlight some nutritional deficiencies in many cases the food we crave may not exactly correct those deficiencies.   Some studies have found that sugar and starch cravings may be a result of low blood sugar and the body trying to correct itself (though not in a long term productive way). Eating sugars and starches will spike blood sugar and as sure as things go up, they must also come crashing down (sometimes fast). To avoid this occurring, the Tweed (2015) recommends eating a protein and a healthy piece of fruit which will stabilize blood sugar for longer periods.   Other surprising triggers for cravings in the report: Late nights (which is not good, as our bodies are programed to store more calories at night). Apparently eating protein for breakfast helps to reduce sugary cravings at night time. Diet soft drinks / sodas Diet soda was found to ‘make people choose higher calorie snacks and feel less satisfied with food’ (according to a study at Texas Christian University in Fort Worth) Studies also indicate that artificial sweeteners promote weight gain and diabetes by changing the good bacteria in your gut. Let’s breakdown the cravings: Craving                                                Possible Deficiency                           Craving Antidote: Sugary Foods Chromium, carbon, phosphorus, sulfur or tryptophan Grapes, other fresh fruit, nuts, vegetables such as broccoli, cabbage, sweet potatoes and spinach Salty Foods Chloride or silicone Celery, tomatoes, lettuce, seaweed, cashews, or seeds Fatty Foods or Dairy Calcium Mustard, turnip greens, broccoli, almonds, salmon, kale, legumes, low fat dairy or sesame seeds Starchy foods Nitrogen Dark leafy greens i.e. Kale or collards, nuts and seeds, eggs, lean chicken or turkey Chocolate – Dark  Chocolate – dairy milk Magnesium,  Good fats i.e. Omega 3 type. Nuts, fish and leafy green vegetables, organic cacaoNuts and seeds, tuna, salmon, mackerel, cod, eggs, avocado, cold olive oil       Dr. Fuhrman’s Anti craving salad dressing (Tweed, 2015): ¼ cup balsamic vinegar, ½ cup water, ¼ cup walnuts, ¼ cup raisins, ¼ tsp dried thyme, 1 tsp Dijon mustard, 1 clove minced garlic. Blend in a blender and add to salads.   Dr. Fuhrman’s 6 steps to reduce cravings (Tweed, 2015): Have a large salad as your main dish and include some raw vegetables ¼ - ½ cup of Beans each day – filling and satisfying, Dr. Fuhrman says they are a terrific antidote A Large bowl of steamed greens (steam for less than 13 minutes to prevent loss of nutrients) Nuts and seeds – include walnuts, chia seeds, flaxseed, sesame seed (Raw and Unsalted) Mushrooms and Onions. Mushrooms should be well cooked to remove the bacterial contamination Eat 3 fruits per day, and Dr. Fuhrman recommends eating them with your meals to dilute their sugars and slow their absorption into the blood. (Its preferable that fruit is fresh as opposed to dried).   Dr. Fuhrman, Tweed (2015) says that the longer you stay away from the starchy and sugary or salty craving foods from the past the less you will crave them.   This is great news for those wanting to reach a healthy weight, but have been sabotaged by your cravings in the past.

Alkaline Diet

What is it? The alkaline diet is an old approach to managing chronic illness and inflammation. Popularised by Chiropractor Dr. Theodore Baroody in his book "Alkalise or die" and later on Dr. Robert Young in his book "the pH miracle", it was based upon the writings of earlier natural medicine practitioners such as chiropractor Dr. Bernard Jensen and JH Kellogg. The central premise is that much of the food we eat today (grains, processed foods and drinks, meat) along with a steep rise in pharmaceutical use has resulted in chemical imbalances in the body. Our organs only tolerate a very narrow range of pH (the measure of whether a system is alkaline or acidic) so when our body is flooded with acid forming chemicals, our alkaline maintenance processes become stressed, resulting in inefficient removal of excess acid. Because this acid is toxic, the body deposits this excess acidity throughout the tissues, which over time causes neuromuscular inflammation, brain chemistry changes and systemic arthritis. Eventually, even the organs begin to fail. By altering the foods we consume to minimise those that cause acid formation, the body is given time to excrete excess acids from the system, which results in improved health and vitality. In principle these alkaline-forming foods are largely comprised of fruits and vegetables and should form 80% of the diet. Acid forming foods such as meats, grains and processed foods should never make up more than 20% of your diet. Dairy foods range from strongly acid forming when in the form of cheeses, and less so for yoghurts and soft cheeses, while nuts and seeds tend to be somewhat neutral to acid. Generally, the diet should be largely vegetarian, with occasional meats and whole grains to provide additional nutrients. Some foods which are acids themselves (such as lemon juice and apple cider vinegar) break down into alkaline residues in the body, while other foods such as sugar forms acid, so it is important to obtain a chart of these foods to help you in your choices. In addition, many proponents of this diet also recommend a water ionisation unit to produce ionised alkaline water for consumption, however the evidence for its value is limited. On a similar note- bottled water sold as alkaline water is little more than just ordinary water with increased calcium carbonate, so spending money on this is not likely to be helpful. Pros: Fairly easy once you know the food placings Increases dramatically the amount of plant food in the diet Eliminates processed food Has wider health effects as well as weight loss Doesn't calorie count or emphasise portion sizes Cons: Can be hard to make the changes needed for some people Can lead to a healing crisis early on (withdrawal headaches etc.)  

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Zone Diet

What is it? When we consume carbohydrates the digestive system breaks them down into simple sugars that enter the bloodstream. Our pancreas then secretes the hormone insulin to drive these sugars into our cells. If the blood concentration of sugars falls too low, the pancreas secretes a different hormone called glucagon to shift sugars from the cells back into the bloodstream. When we eat a diet that is too full of sugars (or the carbohydrate starches that break down into them), then our sensitivity to these hormones becomes abnormal and can lead to obesity and chronic diseases like diabetes. The Zone diet arose as a means to try and maintain an appropriate balance of these hormones, by formulating an eating plan that maintains foods in ratios that aim to keep these hormones within their appropriate levels (or zone). The Zone diet advocates a strict balance between the amount of carbohydrates, proteins and fats eaten during a meal, which equates to about 40:30:30 per cent respectively. In addition, grains are to be avoided, as they are believed to contribute to an unbalanced hormone response (as well as disturb normal digestive processes). There is also an emphasis on maintaining a strict eating schedule, with breakfast to be consumed within one hour of waking; lunch within 5 hours of breakfast; afternoon snack within 5 hours of lunch and dinner 2-3 hours after lunch, then finally a small snack just before bed. Pros: Advocates an increase in fruits and vegetables recommends a decrease in grains and processed foods Promotes the need for exercise No calorie counting Doesn't exclude many types of foods Cons: Rigid composition formula for each meal Schedule can be hard to keep

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Blood Type diet

What is it? The blood type diet originated with a theory proposed by Naturopath Peter Adamo that different foods react differently according to the blood constitution of the person. Part of this reactive process is blamed on Lectins, a class of toxin protein that is found within different food sources that interact with the digestive tract to inhibit digestion which ultimately leads to deficiency syndromes, reactive inflammation and eventually illness. Specific diets are prescribed for different blood groups, as follows:   Type O (the hunter): High protein (meat and seafood), low carb diets. Avoid dairy and vegetables. Avoid brassica family vegetables especially (cabbage, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower etc.). No coffee   Type A (the agrarian or cultivator): Largely vegetarian (vegetables, fruits, nuts & seeds), Carbs are OK but minimise dairy and fats. Coffee is OK   Type B (the nomad): Mixed and omnivorous- include meats, seafood, dairy, vegetables, wild game. Specific recommendations for weight loss include green vegetables, eggs and organ meats. These are the only group that supposedly thrive on dairy   Type AB (the enigma): Mixed and omnivorous- including a balance between meats, vegetables and dairy. Specific recommendations for weight loss include seafood, tofu and fruits such as pineapple. These are supposed to be the most recent to have developed and generally fall between the needs of group A and B. Pros: No calorie counting, easy to follow Not as restrictive as some diets General recommendations to avoid gluten, and get plenty of exercise Cons: There is no credible evidence to support the theory Based on a whole lot of false assumptions:  Hunter gatherers have not been shown to be predominantly type O Type O is not the oldest group chronologically Type B (those who supposedly thrive on dairy) is most common in Asia, where the incidence of lactose intolerance is highest Not well balanced and portions sizes are not restricted

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Atkins diet

What is it? The Atkins diet is a low carb-high protein diet aimed at rapid weight loss. The central premise of the diet is that we have two fuel systems: one that burns sugars (requiring insulin), and one that burns fat. If you consume too many starches (common in processed foods, grains and fruits), then the excess energy causes a drain on your insulin production, adrenal glands and cardiovascular system, resulting in obesity and a multitude of modern illnesses. By eating less sugar-based food, the body regulates its insulin levels better and minimises cravings. Like the Dukan diet, it has several phases which see a gradual increase in the re-introduction of withheld foods, though a maintenance of low-carb philosophy remains with Atkins, while the with the Dukan diet it does not. The Atkins diet aims to help people lose at least 6-7kg in the first two weeks, tapering down to 1-2kg per week over the subsequent phases. The first phase (2 weeks) of the Atkins diet includes high amounts of protein and fat, with minimal vegetable content (and no starch foods). Unlike the paleodiet, Atkins allows dairy in the form of cream, cheeses and yoghurt. The next three phases (weeks to months) gradually allow an increase in vegetables, nuts and seeds, fruit and some starch (rice, pasta etc.) until a balance point is found where weight can remain stable. So to summarise: Pros: Rapid weight loss Diabetes control The unlimited volume, dairy and meat content appeals to men in particular Cuts out processed carbs and alcohol Cons: Can lead to body odour, bad breath and constipation Lack of emphasis on plant foods, leading to nutritional deficit Excessive emphasis on fats and meat, which may be harmful

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