I’ve gotten a couple questions this week about how to stop sugar and carbohydrate cravings. First of all, whether you’re reaching for a bag a candy or a loaf of bread – they’re essentially the same. Both have a similar effect on your blood sugar levels, and just as important, both have a detrimental effect on your gut’s bacteria.

We used to think that bacteria colonized in our gut, meaning it became a permanent resident. I once had images of bacteria setting up shop and stick it out through hell or high water. We now know that’s mot true.  Turns out bacteria (both good and bad) is simply on vacation in our gut. This means that both healthy and unhealthy amounts of bacteria can change overtime.

How is your gut’s bacterial controlling your cravings for carbohydrates?

When it comes to bacteria, each of us should have a goal to live in harmony with the good and the bad. We’ll never be 100% free of bad gut bacteria, but we can do our best to increase the load of good bacteria. If you can find a good balance, not only will you feel better, but you’ll be able to control your cravings for sugar and reduce unwanted body fat.

If you have any of the following problems, you could have too much unhealthy gut bacteria:

  • Bloating
  • Constipation
  • Diarrhea
  • Vitamin or mineral absorption difficulty
  • Skin conditions (acne, eczema, psoriasis)
  • Mental Fog/Excessive Moodiness

There is a lot you can do to get control of your gut bacteria to bring it back to balance. Here are a few tips you can start right now.

1) Cut out these foods: 
Have you seen a forest fire? They’re fierce, dangerous and can grow out of control quickly. One of the greatest obstacles to stopping a forest fire is wind. The greater the wind, the greater the flames.

Well, unhealthy gut bacteria is a lot like a forest fire. Unhealthy gut bacteria is fierce, dangerous and can grow out of control quickly. Think of sugar as wind. When you add sugar to the mix, the bacteria grow like crazy. You’re fanning the flames on the fire!

As difficult as it might be, you need to minimize refined carbohydrates that increase gut bacteria. This includes:

  • Sugar cereal and yogurts
  • Sodas and fruit juices
  • High glycemic fruits, like grapes, bananas, mangos, etc
  • Breads, pastas and pastries
  • Desserts
  • Savory snacks, like pretzels, pita and potato chips
2) Eat more of these foods
When I was a little girl, my grandmother’s basement used to be filled with jars of homemade sauerkraut. I can’t say, at 5 or 6, that I was a huge fan of eating food from dusty old-looking jars, but wow…do I appreciate them now!Fermented foods, including homemade vegetables (get the recipe here), make a tremendous difference in your body’s balance of gut bacteria. I can’t stress this enough. Ideally, we should eat at least a serving of fermented foods everyday. Fermented foods are incredibly easy to make.

Homemade yogurt (recipe) is also another great and very simple way to increase your gut’s good bacteria. Unfortunately, commercial brands, even those that don’t contain any added sugar, are so pasteurized that they good bacteria they once contained has been all but obliterated. Be wary of brands that boast bacteria benefits, especially those that are fruit-flavored and loaded with sugar.

Kimchi, natto and unpasteurized dairy are a few other foods that can provide good bacteria for you gut.

3) Take a high quality probiotic

Because there are so many brands on the market, it’s important to do your research. One simple way to tell if a brand is well-researched is to look at the label. If you see a specific strain of bacteria, you can assume the company took more time to research the specific strain. Here is an example:

Too general of a strain: Lactobacillus
Specific (researched) strain: Lactobacillus GG or Lactobacillus plantarum (<—see the GG and plantarum after lactobacillus? That’s telling you more about the type of lactobacillus you’re ingesting).

I often try different probiotics. Here are a few brands I trust:

Of course, there are a few other things we can do to help balance our healthy gut bacteria, including eliminating alcohol, managing stress and getting more sleep. If you’re suffering with gut issues, you have the power to control a lot! Start by taking these three steps.

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