A Little Background About What We've Known About Cravings for Sugar here at Olive My Pickle
We’ve been making and selling fermented foods for 12 years. We started at farmers markets, which we still attend each and every Saturday.
It’s in these precious few hours at the Saturday markets that we have some of our best conversations, because that's when we hear the success stories our customers have with fermented foods.
Our social media feeds are full of testimonials of our customers telling us how daily eating of fermented foods has helped them with everything from acid reflux to IBS, from cramping to rehydration.
But in this article we’re talking specifically about sugar and the use of fermented foods to help curb sugar cravings. A little while ago, we heard this from our regular weekly customer Anna at the Riverside Arts Market in Jacksonville, Florida:
Customer Testimonial about Fermented Foods and Sugar Cravings
“I started eating your sauerkraut a few months ago and since then I've kicked my sweet tooth! I started eating a little at a time at first, but after I tried and found a few I liked, I increased to 3 times a day like you say is best. I mostly started eating ferments to help my digestion because my dietitian told me they contain enzymes that help, but there was an unexpected side effect!
Every single night at about 8, my taste buds start asking for a bowl of crunchy, sweet granola. I'm usually watching a show when the thought strikes me... pretty soon it gets so intense I can't stop thinking about it until I eat some!
I've known its not the best thing to eat sugary foods at night, I don't want to spike my blood sugar levels before bed, but granola was a healthier option, and anyway its better than the ice cream I used to eat every night.
But since I started eating the ferments it just clicked for me that I can't remember the last time I had my bowl of granola, its definitely been a while! It's like I completely forgot about it. I think its the ferments that have taken care of this nightly sugar craving, because I've heard that's a benefit of eating them."
We've heard so many similar stories to this one from Anna. Most of the time our customers are telling us their experience and asking us if we know why this occurs. Beyond telling people that eating probiotic foods increases microbiome health and diversity, and explaining to them that one of the many functions of the microbiome is to regulate appetite, we really haven't had a solid, science-backed explanation.
Where is the Science Around Sugar Cravings and the Microbiome?
We’ve been aware for a while that there is some kind of connection between fermented foods and the reduction of sugar cravings. But why is this?
If you Google the term ‘fermented foods curb sugar cravings’ thousands of results appear attempting to explain the phenomenon. The search turns up dozens of “List of Foods that Curb Sugar Cravings’ and you’ll always find fermented foods like pickles, kraut, kimchi and olives mentioned near the top.
But why is this? How is it that fermented foods actually curb sugar cravings?
Until now, the internet’s answer to this question has been theory, but there hasn’t been any science to explain this. It looks like that’s changed.
A New Study Discovers Something Sweet
In November of 2022, researchers at California Institute of Technology (Caltech) published findings in the journal Current Biology Trusted Source. Their study examines the role of the gut microbiome in influencing eating behavior, particularly how it impacts the consumption of hyper palatable sweet, sugary and fatty foods.
The study’s lead, Sarkis Mazmanian acknowledged that, “It has been known for a decade that diet shapes the composition of the gut microbiome, but whether bacteria in the intestines influence feeding behaviors remains largely unexplored.”
He continues, “In this work, we reveal that depleting the microbiome with antibiotics resulted in mice that over consume a sugary or palatable diet compared to untreated animals, but do not overeat their regular mouse chow (i.e. their lab food).”
The researchers found that the underlying reason for sugar overconsumption was not based on caloric or nutritional need, but rather it was a behavioral motivation to eat more of a desirable food when gut bacteria are missing.
Next, the researchers reintroduced bacteria to the mice. They restored the gut microbiome via fecal transplant from another mouse that did not receive antibiotics. This resulted in a reduction and suppression of the overeating behavior of binging on sugary and fatty foods.
The researchers concluded that when the mice’s microbiome is disturbed by the use of antibiotics, a control switch turns off, causing them to over consume hyper palatable foods. Conversely, a healthy gut microbiome in mice is able to control feeding behavior when it comes to sugary and fatty foods.
The researchers acknowledge that more study is needed, particularly in human subjects. And although is was shown that antibiotics can cause some collateral damage in the gut by depleting healthy bacteria and create negative changes in the composition of the gut microbiome, the researchers point out that antibiotics can be “life-saving drugs that cure life threatening infections.”
Researchers associated with the study concluded that managing diet during and after antibiotic use should be done and that, “it may mean after receiving an antibiotic, patients should eat [prebiotic] and probiotic foods to restore their gut microbiome."
How to do that? We've complied three easy ways to work more fermented foods into your day:
- Start the day with greek yogurt.
Greek yogurt is an easy, tasty, and healthy breakfast food that you may already love. But what you might not know is that greek yogurt is actually a fermented food.
Both yogurt and greek yogurt are fermented dairy products. Greek yogurt, however, contains about half the carbs and sugars as regular yogurt and double the protein. It is also a healthy fat and has been shown to support a healthy digestive system and increase bacterial diversity in the gut.
Overall, greek yogurt is a great way to pack in the nutrition, help to eliminate your sugar cravings, and give you the energy your body needs to start the day.
Greek yogurt can be eaten in many different ways, so it's easy to change it up from day to day. You can add it to your morning smoothies to make them extra creamy, eat with fresh fruit, or even eat it on top of your pancakes or waffles.
Try these lunch ideas.
Whether you pack your lunch for work each day or need something quick to make while working from home or taking care of little ones, we've got a few healthy ideas to satisfy your appetite, which all include fermented foods. You can find all the recipes in this article 5 Quick and Healthy Ideas for Lunch & A Happy Gut.
The perfect afternoon snack
We're known for our pickles, so it's no surprise they're one of our favorite afternoon snacks.
Now, these aren't your average pickles.
Our real, salt-water brine fermented pickles are full of natural ingredients that make our pickles gut-friendly and full of flavor. They also offer plenty of probiotics and taste delicious. They make the perfect afternoon snack while sitting at your desk or while on the go!
This recent study is the first and closest science we’ve come upon to explain the phenomenon of gut healthy fermented foods helping to curb sugar cravings.
Have you personally experienced a reduction in sugar cravings after beginning to eat fermented foods? Do you have a story to share?
Science is continuing to build the case, and in the meantime, we love to share the personal stories of our customer’s health journeys. It’s in your testimonials that others are swayed to make healthy changes and try fermented foods for themselves.
If you have a story to share, please email us at email@example.com.
Other resources to check out at Olive My Pickle:
If you're looking for Creative Ways To Eat Fermented Foods With Every Meal, check out this article.
For a beginner basics article on the 7 Principal Health Benefits of Fermented Foods, check this out!
Read 9 Everyday Habits for Better Gut Health if you're looking to improve yours.
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