How to Use Probiotics for Sugar Cravings
Beneficial gut microbes help regulate appetite and food intake. Evidence suggests that an imbalanced microbiome can lead to food cravings and excessive sugar intake.
Learn how to use probiotics for sugar cravings and discover the importance of fermented foods and prebiotics for maintaining a diverse gut microflora.
The connection between gut health and sugar cravings
Your gut bacteria play a significant role in balancing hormones that regulate hunger, satiety, and eating behavior.
Certain probiotic bacteria ferment dietary fibers, which releases large amounts of short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs). SCFAs have been found to impact the secretion of several satiation hormones, including glucagon-like peptide 1 (GLP-1), peptide YY (PYY), and ghrelin.
These hormones communicate with the central nervous system and send signals to the brain that trigger or inhibit cravings for certain foods.
Research published in Nature confirms the role of gut bacteria in regulating food intake and concludes, “The gut microbiota has the ability to regulate the host’s appetite, food preferences, and feeding behaviors through satiety pathways.”
A lack of healthy gut microbes can lead to an overgrowth of potentially bad bacteria that can alter the production of satiation hormone, which is linked to increased cravings for sugary foods.
“Poor gut health can contribute to obesity and metabolic imbalances,” explains Dr. Berg. “Promoting a healthy gut flora with probiotics can stop sugar cravings and promote a healthy body weight.”
Interestingly, consuming too much sugar and processed foods can alter the composition of the intestinal microflora and exacerbate food cravings, which creates a vicious cycle of excess sugar consumption and imbalanced gut microbes.
Watch the video below to learn why you are craving sugar and how to stop sugar addiction.
Three benefits of probiotics for sugar cravings
The health benefits of probiotics for sugar cravings extend beyond their role in regulating satiety hormones.
Probiotics help restore and maintain a diverse microflora, promote metabolic health, and enhance emotional well-being, which are crucial factors influencing hunger, appetite, and food cravings.
Here are three benefits of probiotics for sugar cravings.
1. Blood sugar regulation
Fluctuating blood sugar levels and insulin resistance are the primary causes of sugar cravings.
Gut bacteria produce SCFAs, which have been associated with enhanced insulin sensitivity and improved blood sugar balance.
SCFAs can also help regulate the release of certain hormones needed to manage your blood sugar levels, which explains why taking probiotics can lead to fewer cravings.
A study published in The Journal of Diabetes & Metabolic Disorders found that certain gut bacteria, including Bifidobacterium and Lactobacillus strains, are particularly beneficial for curbing sugar cravings and promoting metabolic health.
2. Mental health
Evidence published in Bioessays suggests that probiotics can promote balanced moods and help reduce emotional eating, often linked to craving palatable foods such as sugary treats.
Gut microbes interact with the central nervous system and have been found to enhance the production and activity of serotonin and dopamine. These critical neurotransmitters modulate moods and regulate reward circuits in the brain, which is closely linked to eating behavior and cravings.
Beneficial gut bacteria help your digestive system function optimally and strengthen the gut barrier, which is crucial in preventing potentially harmful substances from entering the bloodstream.
Poor gut health can impair the gut barrier and cause inflammation in the gastrointestinal tract, which can lead to dysregulated hormone production and food cravings.
Many people try to curb sugar cravings by using artificial sweeteners or maltodextrin. However, these sugar alternatives can significantly disrupt the gut barrier functions and cause hormonal imbalances, which increases the risk of food cravings and excessive sugar intake.
If you occasionally want to enjoy sweet treats, opt for natural sweeteners like stevia and monk fruit instead.
How to use probiotics to reduce sugar cravings
Because of their role in hormonal balance, mood regulation, and gut health, probiotics can give your body the boost it needs to curb sugar cravings.
Fermentation creates an ideal environment for healthy bacteria to thrive which explains why foods including sauerkraut, miso, natto, pickles, kefir, and kombucha are some of the best dietary sources of probiotics.
Regularly consuming fermented foods promotes a diverse gut microbiome and can help reduce cravings, promote better digestion, and enhance emotional well-being.
According to an article published by Everyday Health, many people don’t consume enough probiotic-rich foods to restore an imbalanced microflora, and taking a probiotic supplement is an effective strategy to increase beneficial gut bacteria.
To maximize the benefits of probiotics for sugar cravings, it’s crucial to choose a probiotic supplement that contains both Lactobacillus and Bifidobacteria strains and contains at least 60 billion colony-forming units (CFU).
Probiotic supplements with fewer CFUs may not deliver an adequate concentration of beneficial bacteria into the gut, leaving you at risk of poor gut health and cravings.
Probiotic supplements are widely available and can be taken as pills, capsules, powders, and liquids.
While probiotic supplements are generally safe and well tolerated, evidence published by Men's Health found that some people may experience gas, bloating, and mild digestive discomfort after starting probiotic supplementation.
These symptoms indicate that your microbiome is adjusting and typically resolve within a few days of continuous use of probiotics.
However, if you have developed persistent gastrointestinal issues after taking probiotics, it’s crucial to consult a healthcare provider for a thorough evaluation of your symptoms.
Support your microbiome with prebiotics
Prebiotics are a group of non-digestible fibers that serve as food for gut microbes and contribute to a diverse microbiome.
Certain bacteria ferment non-digestible fiber into SCFAs, which is the primary fuel for the beneficial microorganisms residing in your gut.
SCFAs are crucial to maintaining a healthy microbiome and have been linked to overall digestive health, strong immune defenses, and a lower risk of insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes.
Regularly consuming prebiotics helps good bacteria in your intestines to thrive and flourish and enhances the health benefits of taking probiotics supplements.
Here are some of the best prebiotic-rich foods:
Other causes of sugar cravings
Eating behavior and food preferences are influenced by a complex metabolic and hormonal interplay, and sugar cravings can be triggered by several physiological and psychological factors.
Here are common causes of sugar cravings.
1. Excessive consumption of sugars and carbs
Regular consumption of sugary foods and refined carbohydrates can lead to rapid blood sugar fluctuations, which triggers sugar cravings in order to balance blood glucose levels.
Stress and anxiety can trigger cravings for sugary foods to cope with negative feelings.
In addition, stress causes the release of cortisol, which increases appetite and often leads to cravings for high-calorie foods such as sugary snacks and processed foods.
3. Lack of sleep
A study published in American Journal of Lifestyle Medicine found that poor sleep quality was significantly related to higher sugar intake.
It’s believed that inadequate sleep causes several hormonal imbalances that can contribute to increased appetite and cravings for energy-dense, sugary foods.
4. Hormonal changes
Hormonal fluctuations can profoundly impact appetite control and food preferences, which explains why some women crave chocolate during their menstrual cycle, pregnancy, or menopause.
A healthy gut microbiota promotes balanced satiety hormones, and evidence suggests that taking probiotics for sugar cravings can help reduce sugar intake and promote metabolic health.
Regularly consuming pre- and probiotic-rich foods and taking a probiotic supplement containing Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium can restore and maintain microbial gut diversity and help reduce cravings for sweet and sugary foods.
1. Can you use probiotics for sugar cravings?
Probiotics promote balanced levels of satiety hormones, including glucagon-like peptide-1 and ghrelin, which play a crucial role in appetite regulation.
Lack of beneficial gut bacteria can result in hormonal imbalances linked to increased appetite and sugar cravings.
2. Which probiotic strains reduce sugar cravings?
Evidence suggests that Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium are the most effective probiotic strains for sugar cravings.
3. How do I get rid of gut bacteria that cause sugar cravings?
Regularly consuming pre- and probiotic-rich foods and taking a probiotic supplement promotes a diverse gut microbiome, which plays a crucial role in eliminating bad bacteria linked to sugar cravings.
4. How long does it take to reduce sugar cravings with probiotics?
How long it takes to reduce sugar cravings with probiotics depends on the composition of your intestinal microflora, your dietary habits, and your metabolic health.
While some people notice less desire for sugary foods within one to two weeks of starting probiotic supplements, it can take up to two months of regular probiotic use to restore the gut microbiome and diminish sugar cravings.
5. Does sugar affect your microbiome?
Regular sugar consumption can negatively impact the diversity and balance of your microbiome, which can lead to the overgrowth of potentially harmful bacteria and a decrease in the number of beneficial microbes.
An imbalance in microflora can worsen sugar cravings, which creates a vicious cycle of excessive sugar intake and diminishing gut health.