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Kicking the Sugar Habit with Plants

Kicking the Sugar Habit with PlantsKicking the Sugar Habit with PlantsHave you or your patients ever tried to give up sugar? If so, you know the struggle is real. Just pick up any packaged food and it is bound to contain some form of sugar. As busy lifestyles make it difficult to find time for cooking, convenience foods and beverages have become the way to satisfy hunger. There are many drawbacks to eating convenience foods, but a major one is the high sugar content. We have become a culture that relies on sugary fixes to get through the day.

Diabetes and obesity are at an all-time high. Over 29 million American adults have diabetes, and we are now commonly seeing metabolic changes and diagnosing diabetes in our children. While some of the blame for this sugary epidemic can be placed on clever marketing and deceptive food labels, individuals are ultimately in control of their daily intake. A recent study suggests Americans have a serious problem with sugar, raking number one in overall daily sugar consumption at 126 grams!

What is the cost of this increased sugar? When consuming a high carbohydrate or sugary meal, insulin is secreted in response. The more sugar ingested, the more insulin our bodies must produce. This, in turn, causes a vicious cycle eventually leading to insulin resistance.

Chronically elevated insulin levels in women can raise female androgens (testosterone and DHEA), a picture commonly noted in salivary hormone panels. Insulin resistance can also trigger metabolic changes in males, manifesting as low testosterone and elevated estradiol. One of the biggest problems facing individuals trying to kick the sugar habit is the cravings. In fact, many people report feeling a compulsion in the same way addicts feel drawn to drugs or alcohol. Studies have shown that sugar actually binds opioid receptors and can cause changes in dopamine levels. Certainly sugar is anything but sweet.

A powerful plant, Gymnema (Gymnema sylvestre), may just be the one, two punch needed to fight these cravings. While many are aware of chromium and bitter melon for their ability to assist with blood sugar regulation, Gymnema is an herb that goes above even these two heavy hitters. While Gymnemic acids have been slow to stimulate insulin secretion from the pancreas and regenerate pancreatic islet cells, what sets this incredible herb apart from the rest of the pack is the way gymnemic acids act on the tongue. Research has demonstrated gymnemic acids to have an affinity for taste buds similar to sugar molecules. When gymnemic acids fill these receptors in the taste buds, sugar is prevented from binding at these sites. Additionally, gurmarin, another compound found in gymnema also acts on the tongue by interfering with the ability of taste buds to differentiate between sweet and bitter. That’s right, Gymnema helps with both sugar cravings and sugar metabolism.

If you are struggling with sugar cravings, consider the Neurohormone Complete Panel. Assessing neurotransmitter and hormone levels (particularly androgens) can identify imbalances that may be influenced by sugar consumption. Additionally, correcting these imbalances may help to slow sugar cravings. Call me if you need help 636-278-6561

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Saint Peters, Missouri 63376


About Frank Nuber, RPh

Frank Nuber, RPh
Frank Nuber, RPh is a consultant, long term care provider, geriatric medication consultant, women's health and hormone consultant, and experience in clinical and hospital pharmacy.

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