Sugar cravings can be hard to master at the best of times but as we are still in the grips of an unusually long, cold winter, trying toresist the urge to snack on biscuits or chocolate or partake in a tempting dessert can be very difficult so is there a likely solution?
Recently, a trave mineral called chromium has been mentioned various journals for its ability to regulate blood sugar levels and support weight loss. Although nutrients such as magnesium and iron are more commonly used at the moment, it looks like they could be moved from the top spot with chromium in contention. This trace mineral has gained a reputation in respect of blood sugar control and weight-loss.
So how justified is the newcomer's status and can it help your sugar cravings?
Looking into the effects of Chromium on the body, scientists are still working to unravel all of the mineral's data. What we do know is that chromium is required for the metabolism of lipids and carbohydrates which is believed to be due to its effect on insulin.
Produced by the pancreas, Insulin is a hormone that assists your body to utilise glucose (sugar) absorbed from carbohydrates. Too much sugary foods will provoke a release of insulin, which will try to remove glucose from the bloodstream, thus preventing your blood glucose levels from climbing. However, releasing insulin on a regular basis may render your body to become resilient to its attempts resulting in a high risk of diabetes After your blood sugar levels have spiked, there follows an inevitable crash, and this is when you start to crave sugar.
So how does chromium help?
Tests have shown that those with type-2 diabetes appeared to have lower blood levels of chromium and, while chromium deficiency is rare, it's thought that around 90% of us could also have low levels of the mineral. (seenote1)
Chromium is thought to enhance the action of insulin and reduce insulin resistance. One study found that regularly taking chromium picolinate as a supplement improved blood glucose control.Researchers stated that chromium could help to reduce cardiovascular disease and diabetes. (see note 2)
Chromium is also an active ingredient in Glucose Tolerance Factor (GTF), which is a dietary component that increases the action of insulin. It is usually extracted from Brewer's yeast and taken orally.
Chromium can help with the synthesis of cholesterol, with researchers finding chromium supplementation may be linked to low levels of bad cholesterol (LDL). (see note 3)
What does Chromium do for you?
Resisting sugar cravings can be difficult at the best of times but at this time of year particularly, you may struggle to turn away from temptation, especially as sugar treats seem to be everywhere and almost everyone seems to be encouraging you to partake in the festivities, from speciality hot chocolates to selection boxes.However, while nutrients like magnesium and iron are very on trend at the moment, it looks like they could be getting some competition from chromium. This trace mineral may have slipped under your radar but recently it has gained a reputation when it comes to blood sugar and weight-loss. So just how justified is this new status and is it the answer to your sugar cravings?
When it comes to how chromium affects the body, scientists are still trying to unlock all of the mineral's secrets and studies can be conflicting. What we do know if that chromium is needed for the metabolism of lipids and carbohydrates and this is believed to be because of its effect on insulin. Insulin is a hormone produced by the pancreas that helps your body to utilise glucose (sugar) absorbed from carbohydrates. When you eat too many sugary foods it will inspire a release of insulin, which will attempt to move glucose from the bloodstream, preventing your blood glucose levels from climbing too
However, if your body is releasing insulin on a regular basis, you may become resistant to its impact, which is where diabetes comes into the picture. Once your blood sugar levels have spiked, there comes an inevitable crash, and this is when you start to crave sugar.
Should I take Chromium?
As I have previously mentioned, much of the research surrounding chromium is relatively divisive, as some studies have demonstrated positive results from the supplementation of chromium yet others have not seen any noteworthy improvements at all.
Studies involving chromium in relationship to weight loss, have found that chromium supplements helped to moderate the food intake in overweight adult women. However, many scientists agree that there is no evidence to suggest that chromium alone is effective as a medium to weight-loss tool and it is important to maintain a healthy diet and exercise regime.
Since chromium is a trace mineral, only small amounts of about 25mcg are needed by the body so don't be tempted to buy supplements of a higher value as this is not needed
Can I get Chromium from my diet?
While supplements can be beneficial, I would always recommend looking at what you can get from your diet first. I've written a checklist of a few different foods which can be good sources of chromium to get you started.
- Green beans
- Orange juice
- Brewer's yeast
Also, consider taking B vitamins and vitamin C to help boost the bioavailability and absorption rate of the chromium you're ingesting.
What else can I do?
Besides increasing your intake of chromium supplements, what else can you do?
As sugar is still in abundance and popular right now, why not try to sweeten your day with cinnamon?
Cinnamon is a super-spice that is warming and makes a perfect alternative to sugar. Studies indicate that cinnamon can help to regulate blood sugar levels7 and in particular, cinnamon as a supplement has shown the ability to lower bad cholesterol by decreasing blood lipid levels!8 If you don't want to run to cinnamon supplements, you can always add it to dishes instead of sugar, and you can sprinkle over your morning cereal or bowl of porridge or add to your homemade energy balls.
Ceylon cinnamon is the true form of cinnamon so just make sure you but the correct one when you're out and about shopping as it is considered to have the best health properties.You could also try eating a high protein breakfast containing things like pulses, eggs, or nut-butters.
Arecent study demonstrated that if you eat a high protein breakfast (notthe powdered protein type) your sugar cravings can drop by as much as 300% It's just as important to get a good night of sleep as this might also contribute towards reducing your sugar cravings.
Sleep deprivation can impact the hormones that are responsible for your appetite, making you crave more carbohydrate-rich, sugary foods during the day!