Can’t keep your hands out of the bread basket or control yourself around chocolate cake? If you feel like you’re always on the losing end of your sugar cravings, you may count yourself among the growing ranks of so-called “carb addicts”… a popular title for self-professed carbohydrate junkies. And research shows this title is a lot more fitting than you ever may have thought.
Believe it or not, animal studies have shown that repeated access to sugar can lead to behavior and brain changes that are similar to those seen with illicit drugs, with more rodents even choosing sugar water over intravenous cocaine.1-2 Experts think that this may have to do with our tongue-based sweet receptors being unable to respond properly to the abnormal stimulation that goes hand in hand with the modern, corn-syrup-laden, processed diet.
But whatever the reason, it’s clear that continued sugar consumption sets off reward signals in the same dopamine system that rules drug addiction and eating disorders—and that factors such as blood sugar imbalances, stress, lack of sleep and hormonal changes only make the struggle worse.3
For example, the stress hormone cortisol is well known to contribute to weight gain and poor appetite regulation. And not surprisingly, clinical research on premenopausal women has revealed a strong link between high cortisol levels and overindulgence in sweets.4-5 When the women’s mood plummeted in response to stress, this also caused them to eat more food.5 At the same time, occasional sleep loss—which is another common byproduct of stress—has been shown to cause imbalances in hunger hormones, as well as both glucose metabolism and insulin efficiency, all of which can pave the way to a seemingly unstoppable sugar binge.6-7
There’s no question that carb addiction is a vicious cycle—and you may think the cards will always be stacked against you when it comes to overcoming your weakness for sugar. But the good news is that addressing the root cause of your cravings with powerful nutrient support can help you to regain control for good.
Botanicals that assist with normal blood sugar metabolism offer one solution to constant carb cravings. Bitter melon, for example, has been shown to support healthy glucose and lipid levels, while enhancing insulin sufficiency and quenching free radicals.8-9 N-acetyl-cysteine (NAC) has similar benefits against the oxidative stress linked to imbalanced blood sugar metabolism, while goat’s rue supports both blood sugar metabolism and carbohydrate tolerance.10-11
Cinnamon is another clinically supported solution for insulin sufficiency, along with the mineral vanadium and the antioxidant quercetin—which is why you’ll find them all combined in VRP’s daily blood sugar-balancing formula, GluControl™.12-14 Chromium picolinate—also available as a standalone supplement from VRP—may offer additional help in your effort to overcome carb addiction, with clinical research showing that this natural compound can modulate food intake, cravings, and overall hunger levels in adult women, while also supporting effective weight management.15
Finally, maintaining healthy cortisol levels with botanicals and nutrients that modulate your body’s stress response is an essential part of any natural strategy to reduce cravings. Should you find that your cortisol levels are imbalanced, consider supplementing with VRP’s Cortisol Control and AdaptaPhase® I, two formulas designed to get your body’s stress response back on track.
1. Corwin RL, Avena NM, Boggiano MM. Feeding and reward: perspectives from three rat models of binge eating. Physiol Behav. 2011 Jul 25;104(1):87-97.
2. Lenoir M, Serre F, Cantin L, Ahmed SH. Intense Sweetness Surpasses Cocaine Reward. 2007; PLoS ONE 2(8): e698. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0000698
3. Alsiö J, Nordenankar K, Arvidsson E, Birgner C, Mahmoudi S, Halbout B, Smith C, Fortin GM, Olson L, Descarries L, Trudeau LE, Kullander K, Lévesque D, Wallén-Mackenzie A. Enhanced Sucrose and Cocaine Self-Administration and Cue-Induced Drug Seeking after Loss of VGLUT2 in Midbrain Dopamine Neurons in Mice. J Neurosci. 2011 Aug 31;31(35):12593-12603.
4. Spencer SJ, Tilbrook A. The glucocorticoid contribution to obesity. Stress. 2011;14(3):233-46.
5. Epel E, Lapidus R, McEwen B, Brownell K. Stress may add bite to appetite in women: a laboratory study of stress-induced cortisol and eating behavior. Psychoneuroendocrinology. 2001 Jan;26(1):37-49.
6. Crispim CA, Zalcman I, Dáttilo M, Padilha HG, Edwards B, Waterhouse J, Tufik S, de Mello MT. The influence of sleep and sleep loss upon food intake and metabolism. Nutr Res Rev. 2007 Dec;20(2):195-212.
7. Van Cauter E, Spiegel K, Tasali E, Leproult R. Metabolic consequences of sleep and sleep loss. Sleep Med. 2008 Sep;9 Suppl 1:S23-8.
8. Shih CC, Lin CH, Lin WL, Wu JB. Momordica charantia extract on insulin resistance and the skeletal muscle GLUT4 protein in fructose-fed rats. J Ethnopharmacol. 2009 May 4;123(1):82-90.
9. Yin J, Zhang H, Ye J. Traditional chinese medicine in treatment of metabolic syndrome. Endocr Metab Immune Disord Drug Targets. 2008 Jun;8(2):99-111.
10. Neri S, Signorelli SS, Torrisi B, Pulvirenti D, Mauceri B, Abate G, Ignaccolo L, Bordonaro F, Cilio D, Calvagno S, Leotta C. Effects of antioxidant supplementation on postprandial oxidative stress and endothelial dysfunction: a single-blind, 15-day clinical trial in patients with untreated type 2 diabetes, subjects with impaired glucose tolerance, and healthy controls. Clin Ther. 2005 Nov;27(11):1764-73.
11. Muller H, Reinwein H. Pharmacology of galegin. Arch Expll Path Pharm. 1927;125:212-28.
12. Solomon TP, Blannin AK. Changes in glucose tolerance and insulin sensitivity following 2 weeks of daily cinnamon ingestion in healthy humans. Eur J Appl Physiol. 2009 Jan 22. Eur J Appl Physiol. 2009 Jan 22. Published Online Ahead of Print.
13. Cusi K, Cukier S, DeFronzo RA, Torres M, Puchulu FM, Redondo JC. Vanadyl sulfate improves hepatic and muscle insulin sensitivity in type 2 diabetes. J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2001 Mar;86(3):1410-7.
14. Rivera L, Morón R, Sánchez M, Zarzuelo A, Galisteo M. Quercetin Ameliorates Metabolic Syndrome and Improves the Inflammatory Status in Obese Zucker Rats. Obesity (Silver Spring). 2008 Jun 12. Published Online Ahead of Print.
15. Anton SD, Morrison CD, Cefalu WT, Martin CK, Coulon S, Geiselman P, Han H, White CL, Williamson DA. Effects of chromium picolinate on food intake and satiety. Diabetes Technol Ther. 2008 Oct;10(5):405-12.