Food Cravings – Could you be in need of magnesium?
Have you ever wondered why you experience excessive hunger pangs even when you have just eaten a meal or wondered what your food cravings really mean? Scientists are continually uncovering the physiological and psychological mechanisms that trigger cravings and their role in weight gain, hormone balance, mood and energy.
Hunger pangs - are you actually thirsty?
Most of us safely assume that our body is capable of giving us pretty accurate signals for the bare essentials of what we need to acquire. If we are running low on energy then a complex cascade of signalling in which the brain initiates feelings of hunger occur so you can search out food and top up on energy. But what about the signals for hydrating the body? After all these should be pretty important considering the body is made up of around 60% water! The body has a very high demand for water because it’s used in so many areas of the body. Water forms the basis of many body fluids – blood, digestive juices, protective mucus and cellular fluid both within the cells and the fluid that bathes the outside of the cells.
Surely, it’s simple - if you feel hungry you should eat and if you feel thirsty you should drink, right? Well, according to scientists it’s not always that simple. For some people, when under stressful conditions, the brain can confuse the signalling for thirst with signalling for hunger. So, if you are constantly hungry or experience hunger pangs even when you know you are full, then it could be that you’re actually thirsty.
It’s electrolytes that help the body maintain water balance so if you are drinking more water but still experiencing hunger pangs then it could be that your electrolytes are out of balance. Too much sodium and not enough magnesium and potassium can make it hard for body cells to stay hydrated. Cutting back on salty foods and supplementing with liposomal Altrient Magnesium is a good way to help support electrolyte balance.
Craving salt – does your body need more minerals?
Although many of us have too much salt in our diet, cravings for salty foods are very common. Reasons for sodium deficiency include excessive sweating, high levels of stress, Addison’s disease, Bartter Syndrome or simply working in hot conditions. However, before you stick your hand in a large bag of crisps or pretzels or start grilling some bacon, take a moment to think about how you can flip the switch on your salty habits so you don’t end up with sky-high blood pressure or swollen ankles. If you think that you are under considerable stress – work, family, relationship or lifestyle – then exploring ways to support your adrenal glands and settle down your stress response is a good place to start. Magnesium, B-vitamins and vitamin C all help to support the normal functioning of the adrenal glands, so these nutrients are vital during times of stress. Researchers also believe that cravings for salty foods are the body’s way of signally for more minerals such as calcium, magnesium and potassium. These minerals are important to help support sodium and water balance within the body. Supplementing with liposomal Altrient Magnesium helps support resilience to stress whilst also building mineral status since magnesium aids calcium balance.
Chocolate cravings – are your hormones out of whack?
Who doesn’t love a chunk of chocolate now and again? Well, for some people chocolate cravings can be a daily or (for many women) a monthly occurrence. A review of the literature on chocolate cravings reveals why this luxury food has extra appeal when it comes to food cravings. Chocolate contains a combination of biologically active components such as cacao flavanols, methylxanthines, biogenic amines, alkaloids and cannabinoid-like fatty acids which have the potential to influence behaviour and psychological sensations, similar to other addictive substances. But researchers have also uncovered that some people may crave chocolate as a way to self-correct specific nutrient deficiencies such as magnesium or even help regulate neurotransmitters involved in mood, namely serotonin and dopamine. Researchers continue to explore the link between chocolate consumption and possibility of improved mood, reduced anxiety and heightened cognitive function.
For women, chocolate cravings often occur in the luteal – or premenstrual- phase of their menstrual cycle. Studies have shown that fluctuations in the oestrogen during the premenstrual phase exacerbates a magnesium deficiency for women suffering with premenstrual syndrome which heightens symptoms of chocolate cravings, mood swings, anxiety, weight gain, water retention and even breast tenderness. Studies show that supplementing with magnesium, chromium and vitamin B6 to be of great benefit for women with PMS and cravings.
Need something sweet – insulin mis-management?
Cravings for sweet foods or starchy foods is not too dissimilar to chocolate cravings but rather than the body wanting to restore magnesium status and harness the drop-in oestrogen, sugar cravings are thought to reflect blood sugar mismanagement and insulin imbalance. The more you act on these sugar cravings and reach for biscuits, cakes and sweets the more you fuel the problem as body cells can become insulin resistant. Avoiding skipping meals, swapping refined carbs for wholegrains (white bread for brown, white rice for wholegrain) and focusing your diet on foods rich in soluble fibre – oats, wholegrains, pulses, lentils, fresh fruits and vegetable helps improve blood sugar management and reduce cravings. Chromium and magnesium are two minerals that help support healthy insulin levels and awaken cells to insulin again. B-vitamins are also vitally important for all aspects of carbohydrate metabolism so supplementing with liposomal Altrient Vitamin B and Mineral Complex daily is a smart move when it comes to supporting healthy blood sugar management.
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- By Jackie Newson
- BSc (Hons) in Nutritional Therapy
Jackie has been writing for a range of health publications since graduating as a nutritional therapist from Westminster University in 2008. In addition to producing health and nutrition workshops, Jackie is also an experienced assessor and enjoys the opportunity to help other students of nutrition to achieve their goals. In her role as an experienced nutritional therapist, Jackie offers individualised advice on a variety of health conditions. She believes wholeheartedly in the power of healthy nutritious food, supported with high quality supplementation to achieve optimal health. Jackie is a great believer in the power of positive thinking and attributes much of her enthusiasm and sense of well-being to the wonderful people in her life, a healthy diet and yoga which she practices regularly.