Do you feel like you are constantly craving something sweet—even when you aren’t hungry? Are your sugar cravings taking control of your life?
You are definitely not alone. Studies show that almost 100 percent of women and 70 percent of men experience food cravings in any given year. (1) The good news, though, is that unnecessary food cravings can be fixed!
The More Sugar You Eat, The More Addictive It Becomes
Sugar consumption in the US is at an all-time high. In fact, the consumption of added sugars in the US has increased by more than 30 percent over the past three decades. (2)
Even more startling, is the fact that the average American eats a whopping 3 pounds of sugar every week! (3)
It’s not hard to imagine this, since almost everything we eat has sugar added to it.
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Added sugar accounts for almost 500 calories of our diet every day, and that is 10 times more than any other additive in our foods.
And what is even more astounding is that the more sugar you eat, the more you can actually become addicted to it—much like any other addiction.
While we often think of addiction as something that only happens to people craving alcohol or drugs, a sugar addiction is just as real and just as hard to quit.
In fact, the exact same brain processes occur in people craving sugar as they do for people craving heroin!
Somehow that little donut doesn’t seem so harmless anymore.
But all is not lost, research now shows that people who crave sugar may really have a chromium deficiency. In fact, studies conclude that up to 50 percent of people eat a diet deficient in chromium. (4)
Chromium Helps The Body Manage Blood Sugar
While we know our bodies need this mineral in trace amounts, how chromium actually works and how much we need for optimal health is still not well defined according to the National Institutes of Health (NIH).
We do know, however, that chromium is found in two forms: 1) trivalent (chromium 3+), which is found in our food, and 2) hexavalent (chromium 6+), which is a toxic form that results from industrial pollution.
Obviously, it is the former you need to be concerned about.
Researchers have determined that chromium enhances the action of insulin, which is a hormone needed for the body to metabolize and store carbohydrates, fats, and proteins. (5)
So, since we know that chromium essentially boosts the actions of insulin in your body, researchers have further determined it helps regulate your blood sugar. While chromium is essential for many of our metabolic processes, we don’t actually need much of it, which is also good news.
How Do I Get More Chromium?
Even though it’s only in trace amounts (less than 2 micrograms [mcg] per serving), chromium is essentially found in every food group. Meat and whole-grain foods, as well as some fruits, vegetables, and spices are good sources.
Ironically, even though people who are deficient in chromium seek out sugary foods, these foods are the lowest sources of this mineral. In fact, eating these sugary foods can actually cause your body to further eliminate chromium you do have via your urine. (6)
So, you are truly doing your body more harm than good by turning to sweet treats.
Foods High In Chromium
The amount of chromium in food is significantly affected by how and where it is grown and as well the manufacturing processes.] (7)
As a general guide, however, shellfish is the best source of chromium. Mussels, for example, have 110 mcg per 3-ounces. Oysters are also high, having 49 mcg in 3 ounces. (8)
Brewer’s yeast is also a great source according to many experts. In fact, one study showed that taking brewer’s yeast not only increased the levels of chromium in participant’s blood, but it also helped decrease the need for drugs in those with type 2 diabetes. (9)
Next, you can look to other foods such as broccoli (11 mcg in ½ cup), grape juice (8 mcg in 1 cup), red wine (which can have anywhere from 1-13 mcg/5 ounces), potatoes (3 mcg/1 cup mashed), garlic (3 mcg/1 tsp dried), and in meats such as beef (2 mcg/2 ounces) and turkey (2 mcg/2 ounces).
Eating these foods will definitely help boost your chromium levels, but to make sure you are getting enough of this mineral, especially if you’re already deficient, it is often best to take a chromium supplement.
How Much Chromium Do I Need?
According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH) the amount of chromium you require is dependent on your age and gender, but here are the basic guidelines:
- males 19-50: 35 mcg per day
- males over 50: 30 mcg per day
- females 19-50: 25 mcg per day
- females over 50: 20mcg per day
- pregnant females over 19: 30 mcg per day
- lactating females over 18: 45 mcg per day
According to some experts you should actually take 200 mcg a day of chromium picolinate (the most absorbable form) and if you have type 2 diabetes or metabolic syndrome, you should be getting 1000 mcg. (10)
One study showed that taking chromium picolinate helped increase levels of this mineral in the blood. The study also showed that by taking this supplement, study participants will eat less while also lowering your food cravings, which can result in weight loss. (11)
Why Should I Take Chromium?
Apart from the above mentioned sugar cravings and health issues associated with eating a high-sugar diet (obesity, heart disease, diabetes etc.), a long-term chromium deficiency can also lead to an array of health issues that include diabetes and metabolic syndrome.
Even very mild deficiencies can cause issues with your blood sugar metabolism that can lead to such things as anxiety and/or fatigue and problems with metabolizing cholesterol as well as atherosclerosis, stunted growth in children and even such things as delayed healing after injury or surgery. ()
While not all sugar cravings are a result of a chromium deficiency, many are
. You should also be aware, however, that chronic exhaustion, adrenal fatigue, yeast/Candida overgrowth and hormonal imbalances can also lead to sugar cravings, so speak to your doctor if you find that boosting your chromium levels is not curbing your cravings.