Day #8 - Hormone of Hunger
I had a great meeting with Samantha Lynch and Reed Prescott today. We got to talking about the role sleep has in cravings and the inability to lose weight. She had a client who only started losing weight when he had two weeks off and was able to rest. His diet remained the same, the only difference was the extra sleep and rest, yet he lost 20 lbs during those two weeks where he wasn’t losing at during his usual rigorous schedule.
While I didn’t do this diet to lose any weight, I know my weight gain or loss is often directly related to my gut health and gut health IS part of the reason I’m doing this diet. I’ve noticed that my cravings are having a particularly hard time going away. I’m pretty sure this has something to do with my work schedule lately which has been quite busy. I’m sleeping but a little less than usual and feeling a bit more stress and that always increases my cravings.
Cravings are also connected to digestive inflammation which is why when I cut out inflammatory foods, I tend to want less sugar. Ghrelin is a hormone that your stomach produces and it tells your brain to eat. When there is inflammation in the gut, the ghrelin goes up to help heal your gut BUT it also increases your appetite, whether you need food or not. You can see how this can create a vicious cycle. Eat inflammatory foods (sugar) --> creates ghrelin to heal the gut --> creates cravings/hunger --> eat more inflammatory foods (sugar).
Carbohydrate rich foods can initially calm your gherlin but then within an hour or two, it will increase your production of gherlin to levels above where they were when you first ate. This is one of the reasons why when we eat a large helping of pasta we’ll crave it again two hours later (not to mention our blood sugar and insuline which is another part of the problem). Fortunately studies are showing that fat doesn’t effect the ghrelin very much and that protein seems to help lower ghrelin levels after eating.
When I start having cravings for excessive amounts of carbs and sugar, I know that there is a gut imbalance going on and it’s a sign to me that my digestive system is trying to heal itself. This was a big motivation for doing the diet. By cutting out the inflammatory foods and excess carbohydrates, I’m giving my gut a chance to heal more quickly and ideally, this will prevent weight gain from overeating while also calming my stomach and reducing bloating, pain, and other gastro-intestinal disfunctions. It’s taking a little bit of time, but it’s happening. Cravings are less and less each day.
Also helpful in healing the gut are herbs, foods and supplements. These can help balance your gherlin, reduce your cravings and help your digestion to work better. One example is chlorella which helps balance blood sugar, lower cholesterol and repair the digestive tract. Wu Xue Teng is a chinese herb that helps balance blood sugar as well, prevents sugar cravings and and has anti inflammatory properties. I take Essential Probiotics by SCD but any good quality liquid probiotic will work in a similar way, helping to balance the friendly bacteria in your gut and reduce gut inflammation. Finally, fiber also helps to benefit the healthy bacteria in your digestive tract while reducing bacterial endotoxins which will cause inflammation. Foods like oat bran are 50% higher in fiber than oatmeal and have more antioxidants, protein, calcium, iron, thiamin, phosphorus, riboflavin, magnesium, and zinc than oatmeal! It’s not as carb dense because of the fiber either. I add walnuts and cinnamon to mine - yum!
Of course, talk with your health care practitioner before taking any of these supplements, but if you are suffering with cravings and digestive issues, these items may be part of a solution.
Also, if you want to work with a very talented and educated person on adjusting your diet, I would have you contact Samantha Lynch. She’s got a wealth of knowledge in this area. Also, Reed Prescott can help you with choosing the supplements that are custom tailored to fit your needs. On top of being great resources, they are both fabulous people you'll love chatting with.
Stay warm, friends, and get some extra rest!