So it’s the end of the first week of the 28 day grain-free challenge. How are things going with those of you participating? Are you successful in your intention to eat grain-free? You may be experiencing some cravings and moments of feeling like you can’t do this…
All of that is normal and part of the process. In fact, many people have cravings for carbohydrates, particularly sugar, because of an imbalance in their gut flora. The intestine is normally populated with trillions of microbes: bacteria, yeast, fungi, and viruses. All of these intestinal flora live together harmoniously in a healthy gut. When the gut is not healthy, which can happen for a variety of reasons due to our modern lifestyles, imbalances in the flora occurs and symptoms and disease processes can follow. This called dysbiosis.
A person with an unhealthy digestive tract (dysbiosis) will have trouble digesting certain foods. Of the three macronutrients (proteins, carbohydrates and fats), carbohydrates are actually the hardest to digest. Carbohydrates are also the main food for the intestinal flora. When they are not digested properly, they stay in the intestines and become food for the pathogenic bacteria and yeast. These pathogens can then proliferate and overpower the numbers of beneficial bacteria and yeast in the gut. When this happens, a vicious cycle begins.
Undigested carbohydrates become food for pathogens, and these pathogens multiply and take a strong residence in the gut. These pathogens give off toxic acidic byproducts which can damage the delicate lining of the intestinal tract and cause symptoms such as, excess mucous, excess gas, diarrhea, constipation, blood in the stools, etc.
Any damage to the lining of the digestive tract also causes a loss of the digestive enzymes that are embedded in the lining. Therefore, digestion is further compromised. This can eventually develop into a disease process. If the carbohydrates are continuously eaten, it drives the cycle, and the symptoms as well as the intestinal damage gets worse and worse.
Some people can have this vicious cycle going on and not even know it because their symptoms are not related to the digestive tract. For example, sinus problems and migraines can be related to this vicious cycle of undigested carbohydrates feeding the pathogenic organisms. Skin problems, learning problems, joint problems, can also be related to this problem in the digestive tract.
Removing the offending food from the diet is the key to healing. The medical approach is to manage the symptoms with medications. The holistic approach is to tackle to root cause of the problem.
Many people can have an overgrowth of Candida Albicans (a yeast) and this may be a cause of strong cravings. Candida Albicans is also implicated in sinus problems and of course vaginal yeast infections in women.These yeasts feed upon sugar and undigested carbohydrates.
The solution is to follow a grain-free diet and some people even need to follow a starch and sugar-free diet like SCD or GAPS.
I find eating something sour like a real fermented pickle, sauerkraut or other fermented foods will help quell the cravings for carbohydrates. Alternatively, eating some good fat like full fat milk, yogurt, or butter will stop it as well. After a few days of eating low starches and sugars, the cravings start to go away, as the bad microflora start to die off. You just need to get over the hump so to speak.
What do you do the help fight the cravings? Please leave a comment and share your strategy!
Be sure to visit the Grain-Free Linky Carnival for recipe ideas! There are some great suggestions there!
The 28 Day Grain-Free Challenge is still open for signing up if you still want to join in!