Can’t Kick Your Sugar Cravings?

Got a sweet tooth? Do you have sugar and carb cravings that decrease your “will power” and keep you from achieving your health goals? Many of the clients at IWG experience sugar cravings to to this ONE thing… Find out now in this week’s episode of Integrative Wellness Radio with Dr. Nicole Rivera and Brooke Scheller!


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Hey everyone, welcome back to another episode of Integrative Wellness Radio. I am Doctor Nicole Rivera, and I am here today with Brooke Scheller, our functional medicine nutritionist, and we are really excited to talk to you about why you are craving sugar. We always say, "It's not you, it's your yeast." We'll explain a little bit more about what we're talking about, but there is a lot of reasoning, actually, behind why we're experiencing such urges for sugar, especially if it's after a meal, and we're really feeling like we need that piece of chocolate, or if it's just craving sugar all day. I know there are some of us out there that really feel like the sugar cravings are uncontrollable, and we almost beat ourselves up a little bit, not understanding why we don't have the discipline. When you have sugar in the system due to an overuse, maybe as a kid, it does create biochemical changes that can then lead to those serious cravings later on.

Yeah, I think it's really interesting working in clinical practice because we see people all the time, and they say, "Well, I just have a sweet tooth. I've just always been that way." Its become somewhat normal that we say, "Oh, well, I've just got a sweet craving," or "Man, that ice cream looks really good." I think we've made that a standard in our society that you have desert or you have something sweet when you think you deserve a treat or something like that.

The fact is, there is some underlying reason as to why you might be craving that. It's not necessarily that you might always crave that if we work through some different things together. That's why we wanted to talk to you today and tell you about some of the other, maybe symptoms that might be associated with those sugar cravings, and what might be the underlying cause of that.

Nicole :
Like I said before, we always make a little joke with people and we say, "It's not you, it's your yeast." Usually that will come up in the context of talking about what are some of the things that they feel like they struggle with, and usually it comes up that they have really bad sugar cravings that, especially after almost any meal they eat, they feel like they need something a little bit sweet, or they really can't give up their sugary drinks. If it's going to be ice tea, if it's Snapple, if it's soda, whatever it is.

Then, they also might find that if they start eating a carbohydrate, like bread or pasta, it just throws them into a whole snowball of, "I can't stop eating the carbs," and they might go on a binger for about a week. Then they feel like, "Okay, I've got to get on track, and I need to stop eating this stuff because I'm not feeling well from it."

A lot of those things happen when we actually have yeast overgrowth in our gastrointestinal system. It's such an interesting thing because the yeast is actually fed by sugars and carbs, but then it also causes us to crave sugar and carbs. When we're young, I feel like, at least in the American diet, we have a tendency of gravitating more towards the sugary, carb heavy substances and foods, so we might be having chocolate milk, we might be even having regular milk, which actually has more sugar in it than we realize. We might be drinking soda occasionally, especially if we go out for pizza. We might also be doing more pastas because at the end of the day, think about the kids menu. It's either breaded protein, chicken fingers, or it's going to be grilled cheese, bread, or it's going to be pasta and butter.

We're literally feeding these kids sugar and fat. If we're eating these things, which are pretty normal, unfortunately, then we tend to now have this yeast being fed within our gastrointestinal system because all of us have a little bit, which is a normal thing, but if it starts to be fed, and it starts to overgrow is when it becomes problematic. The yeast is something that, again, will cause you have cravings, but it will also cause you to hit plateaus for when you're like, "I need to get on track. I need to get healthier. I need to cut down on my sugars and my carbs. I need to eat healthier." Then, you find yourself really struggling and ravenous like, "I can't do this." It's really because you're almost putting that yeast into starvation mode, and it always wins.

Yeah. I think a lot of times people say, "I just don't have the willpower. I don't have the willpower to make the changes because I really like my sugar; I always have such extreme cravings." When we start to go in and start to eliminate some of the yeast, it can actually be really helpful in people controlling their sugar cravings and cutting back on that.

Nicole :
I'll never forget one of our clients, she actually attended a talk that I gave, and there was a woman in the crowd, and she was inquiring about her mom who was a little bit older, and she was set in her ways. She was talking about how her mom had a really serious sugar addiction. She said, "It's impossible for her to give it up." She said, "Where would you start her?" I was like, "Well, we would start to make minor modifications to the diet, and then we can actually move into doing some supplements and things like that once she gets more acclimated."

My patient, she actually stood up from the crowd and she goes, "Can I interject?" She pretty much said, "There's no way I would have been able to make any dietary changes unless I took the supplements that helped me to get rid of my yeast, so that it could combat those cravings, and I actually could be more disciplined." It really was such an eyeopening thing because she is someone who struggled a lot with being able to make dietary changes, and she was unsuccessful because no one had ever really addressed the fact that the yeast was so overgrown in her body, and that was a huge trigger for her going back to a diet that she knew wasn't good for her.

Yeah. With that being said, what are some of the other symptoms that might be associated with yeast overgrowth? Because it's definitely not just sugar cravings.

Nicole :
Definitely. I think that when I go through my consult, people are always looking at me funny. Like, "Why is she asking all these questions?" I will always circle back and have them understand why I'm asking these questions. If somebody is complaining about bloating, and then they're also talking about sugar cravings, my mind automatically goes to "Okay, this person potentially has yeast in their gut."

Then, from there, I will usually follow-up with questions like, "Have you had a history of yeast infections?" Obviously, more in reference to a female. "Have you had a history of nail fungus or athletes foot? Do you have any problems with itchy skin or Eczema?" Then, I always ask, "Do you also have a history of UTIs, also known as urinary tract infections?" When you talk about the reproductive area for males or females, it's very, very close to the intestines and the colon, where the yeast would reside. It's very common that you will have an overlap of infections, either in the vaginal tract, or even with the male reproductive organs. You could potentially have yeast in those areas, and then sometimes bacteria on top of that.

The biggest manifestations that we see is definitely nail fungus. That doesn't really go away. The person, maybe, keeps losing the nail. Then, they also will experience bloating, especially when you eat too much pasta, too much bread. I think that that's so normal now. It's like, "Oh, well, I shouldn't have ate that, so I'm bloated." That's just what it is. That's not really how it works. You should be able to tolerate good quality carbohydrates to a capacity, but if you're going to get extremely bloated and uncomfortable, you probably overate, but also you could potentially have yeast in your gut as well.

When it comes to the skin, I know that I mentioned Eczema and definitely some itching of the skin, but some people, and I find this more in women, that they get these large, red rashes that are almost damp type rashes. These will usually reside in warm areas. Maybe underneath the breast or underneath the armpits or even in the groin area. Those are usually indicators of yeast as well.

How would somebody know that they have yeast, aside from the symptoms, of course?

Nicole :
There's a couple ways you can go about testing and definitely, first and foremost, the best test is going to be a stool analysis. The thing is, when you do a stool analysis, it's going to give you a lot of information about what's happening in the gastrointestinal system. Unfortunately, if somebody has had yeast for many years ... I mentioned earlier about being a kid, and we eat a lot of carbs and sugars, it's just what we do, unfortunately. If you were a kid who ate a lot of that stuff, and then gave it up as you got older, you could potentially still have had yeast in your gut for 10, 15, 20 years.

With that, if its been there a very long time, it can actually escape from the gut and get into you blood. That is when you start to see those other manifestations in the skin. Again, in the reproductive organs, the vaginal track, or even the nails. You can definitely do the stool sample, which is going to give you a lot of information about the yeast and the type of yeast. Then, you can also follow-up with a blood test, and you can look at something called Candida antibodies. The Candida antibodies will give you some information, if Candida yeast is also in ... Been in the bloodstream.

Don't get me wrong; there's a lot of different types of yeast other than Candida. I think Candida is just one that we've heard of more often than others. Definitely make sure that if you do embark on testing or you do really resonate with these symptoms, make sure to listen to our other podcast about the myths on the Candida diet because it is very, very important to be clear on the best way to work on the yeast. Unfortunately, the Candida diet is a little outdated with the research, and you really need to be strategic.

Yeah. I like that mention that there's so many different strains because I think that Candida is this umbrella term. Its become this hot topic type of thing, and you could do a quick Google search on that. You will find a ton of information about the myths and things ... I'm sorry, not the myths, but the diet and different things that you can do at home to eliminate that. With that being said, I want to talk about ... You mentioned supplementations. What is going to be the management protocol for that? Is it supplements? Is it diet? What are the big changes there?

Nicole :
One hundred percent it's a combo of both. Before going into that, I want to make a quick disclaimer, too. This is a mistake that I made in the beginning of my practice is because so many people are struggling with these sugar cravings and they're struggling with bloating and gastrointestinal discomfort, most people have yeast, to be honest with you. We don't have that many people that we test that don't have yeast in their system.

The biggest thing is is someone who has really severe symptoms of all the things we talked about. They also end up showing up with a high abundance of yeast in their labs. There's a strong possibility that they have a co-infection with parasites. That's really something to consider as well is if you are someone who did do the Candida diet, or you did do a candy to supplement protocol, and you feel like that didn't help you, then you need to consider that there is also parasites in the gastrointestinal system, and definitely listening to some of our other podcasts in reference to the signs and symptoms of parasites. That could give you a lot of clarity.

Yeah. I think some of those symptoms are overlapping as well, with regards to maybe things like that.

Nicole :
Definitely. You could definitely have skin manifestations with the parasites, but you'll have a little bit more discomfort, pain in the abdomen, especially before a bowel movement. You might find yourself having more loose bowel movements as well, or going in between constipation and loose.

When it comes to the management, again, definitely reference the myths on the Candida diet because we talk a lot about what is the best diet, but the biggest thing, when you're trying to get rid of Candida is you do not need to go sugar free with your diet. You just need to cut out the bad sugars and carbs. Making sure you're not doing anything that's overly processed, and making sure you're keeping the inflammatory foods out. You actually don't really want to be doing tons of fruit. You don't want to be eating tons of beans. You don't want to be having tons of grains, even the quinoas and the rices, and the lentils. Sticking with more of an anti-inflammatory diet. A great resource is Eat For Your Gut Cookbook by myself. You can check that out on Amazon and at least get some guidelines as to what they diet entails, but also having recipes as your resource.

When it comes to supplements, the biggest thing to understand is yes, there are different candax and candisol and all the things that are obviously being marketed towards Candida. You absolutely need to consider making sure that you're having enzyme support in there. One of the enzymes we use is called Interface Plus. The enzymes help to break down the walls so that you can, more efficiently, get rid of the yeast, and then using some antimicrobials. The top one that we use us grapefruit seed extract, which is also known as paramicrocidin. Those are going to be two products that can work really, really well. Again, getting the testing allows you to know if there is other things that are appropriate for you as well as if you need to treat the co-infection of parasites.

The stool analysis is really great too because if they do culture strains of candida or other yeast, they will actually test them against which natural antimicrobials are the most effective. For example, one of the big ones on the internet is oregano oil, that it's so great for yeast and helps to eliminate yeast in the gut. Well, when we see that analysis, I don't think we've ever seen oregano oil being effective. It's typically some of those other ... Like a grapefruit seed extract or something like that. Just be cautious in knowing if you try something and it doesn't work, there might be something else to it.

Nicole :
I'm really glad that you brought that up because I hear about people taking oil of oregano all the time for their immune system, for their gut, and a variety of other things. Like you said, with the testing that we use, I very rarely see the oil of oregano being effective. Again, don't be discouraged if you embarked on making changing or taking supplements, and you feel like it didn't work. It just may have not been the right thing for your body.

Yeah. With that being said, we always love to offer a free 15 minute strategy call with one of our clinicians. It's a great opportunity to discuss anything that you're struggling with. If you feel like you're relating to any of this, we might be able to help. You can head over to Integrative Wellness Group. Com to do that. As always, please subscribe to us on iTunes. Feel free to write us a rating and a review. Thank you so much.