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We all know by now that a high-sugar diet can be harmful. On a day-to-day basis, it can mess with our energy, mood, focus and concentration. Longer-term consequences can include weight gain, tooth decay and type 2 diabetes; and overdoing the sweet stuff can even increase our risk of early brain ageing and conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease¹.
If we know sugar is bad for us, why do we struggle to cut down?
There’s no doubt that consuming sugar is extremely pleasurable and rewarding. We’re programmed to like the taste and seek it out because it’s a quick and easy source of energy for our brain and body – and our evolution hasn’t yet adapted to the constant availability of this high-energy food.
But if you’re trying to cut down on the sweet stuff, don’t despair – it is doable! You’ll find a multitude of useful tips online, usually starting with a healthy whole foods diet. What you may not know, however, is that just adding a few key spices to your diet could help too.
Three super spices to help cut the cravings and solve your sugar woes
This warming spice has gained a special reputation for helping to beat sugar cravings. Cinnamon seems to help the body control the amount of sugar in our blood, which then evens out the ‘highs’ and ‘lows’ that can induce cravings.
One study, for example, found that volunteers who took just 3 grams of cinnamon a day – a small teaspoon – maintained lower blood sugar levels after a glucose tolerance test (a glucose drink) than those who weren’t taking the cinnamon2.
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The spice of the moment, it’s to the rescue again. One of the golden spice’s traditional uses in is helping those with diabetes3, which indicates that it could aid blood sugar control, amongst other benefits.
To back up this traditional use, modern research has found that turmeric or curcumin (one of turmeric’s active constituents) can help lower blood sugar in diabetic animals4,5 and also in humans6
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Last but not least, could help your sugar cravings in quite a different way: by providing natural sweetness without the sugar. Licorice is naturally 50x sweeter than refined sugar. When cravings strike, try sipping a cup of licorice tea instead – without any extra sugar, of course. You could find it helps satisfy your sweet tooth.
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So, are you up for the challenge? Try adding these three amazing spices to your diet and see if they help banish your sugar demons. They can all be found in delicious herbal teas that are ideal for sipping throughout the day.
1. Moreira PI. High-sugar diets, type 2 diabetes and Alzheimer's disease. Curr Opin Clin Nutr Metab Care. 2013 Jul;16(4):440-5.
2. Solomon TP, Blannin AK. Changes in glucose tolerance and insulin sensitivity following 2 weeks of daily cinnamon ingestion in healthy humans. Eur J Appl Physiol. 2009 Apr;105(6):969-76.
3. Curcumin and diabetes: a systematic review. Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2013;2013:636053.
4. Arun N, Nalini N. Efficacy of turmeric on blood sugar and polyol pathway in diabetic albino rats. Plant Foods Hum Nutr. 2002 Winter;57(1):41-52.
5. Kuroda M et al. Hypoglycemic effects of turmeric (Curcuma longa L. rhizomes) on genetically diabetic KK-Ay mice. Biol Pharm Bull. 2005 May;28(5):937-9.
6. Maithili Karpaga Selvi N et al. Efficacy of Turmeric as Adjuvant Therapy in Type 2 Diabetic Patients. Indian J Clin Biochem. 2015 Apr;30(2):180-6.