Introduction and background
Minerals, by their very definition, are considered “micro-nutrients” that are present in body and blood and are essential for maintaining the vital functions of our body. Almost all of the minerals are obtained though food (or diet) we eat or consume. Some common examples of the dietary minerals are Zinc, Iron, Cadmium, Chromium, Calcium, Sodium, Potassium and Magnesium. Quite recently, however, there has been a lot of debate regarding whether these minerals (or their deficiencies) have any role in causing or aggravating the so called food cravings (or our appetite in simple terms). The following article highlights the role of deficiency of various diet-based minerals in causing hunger or cravings for foods.
What are food cravings?
By their very definition, food cravings can be defined as the intense desires or feelings to eat or consume one’s favourite food or diet of choice. It must be remembered that food addiction is not the same as food cravings. Food addiction refers to being addicted to one specific sort of food. However, food cravings can occur for multiple types of foods and at the same time.
Which minerals’ deficiency causes food cravings
Nutritionists and dieticians have identified the following minerals that may have a key role in the maintenance of human appetite or cravings for certain foods:
Magnesium: If your body lacks the daily minimum required amount of magnesium in the foods, you may crave for “chocolate” on regular basis. Therefore increasing the consumption of magnesium-rich foods may help control hunger or cravings for chocolate. Some examples of such foods are Raw cacao (it is rich in magnesium, bears good chocolate taste, and yet no reﬁned sugars and no milk fat) and magnesium supplements, raw nuts, dry fruits and seeds.
Chromium, Carbon, Sulfur and Tryptophan: If your body or diet is deficient of these minerals i.e. Chromium, Carbon or Tryptophan, you may have increased cravings for sweetened drinks, candies and desserts. therefore, increasing the “alternative resources” of these minerals in your diet such as chromium supplements, brewer’s yeast (the dietary source of chromium), apples and bananas may help you curb your cravings for these foods.
Similarly, carbon is actively found in a variety of fresh fruits. Therefore, if you are craving for one of your favourite candies, taking some fresh fruits of your choice may really help. In the same way, sulfur is abundantly found in garlic and onion, or
garlic supplements. Increasing the consumption of these foods will also help you control or reduce craving for candies and other sugary foods,. Finally, tryptophan is present in special supplements known as 5-HTP supplements, sweet potatoes and spinach.
Chloride: So, if you really crave for salty foods like chips, fries, crackers and salted nuts, you can try consuming healthy foods sprinkled with sea salt. However, you should remember that food rick in chloride may further increase your blood pressure if you already suffer from hypertension.
Calcium: If you fond of Soda pop / soft drinks or carbonated beverages, eating a diet rich in calcium will help you control your desire for the same. In addition, calcium consumption may also make your teeth and bones stronger and healthier. Rich sources of calcium include dairy products such as margarine, cottage cheese, butter, skim milk and fat-free yogurt. Similarly, if you can;t live without fatty / junk or deep fried food such as pizza or French fries, consuming calcium-rich food will definitely help you curb your cravings for these calorie-rich foods.
Iron: Finally, one of the most common food cravings one can have is for the red meat or beef or mutton. Experiments have shown that eating or consuming an iron-rich diet such as spinach or iron supplements can really help control such cravings within minimum time frame.
While the above-mentioned mineral resources can greatly help one in controlling various types of food cravings, it must be remembered that these, alone, are not not enough. Therefore, combining a diet-based supplement or herbal appetite suppressing supplement is often crucial. There are certain herbal appetite suppressants or diet pills that, by controlling appetite, not only help in one’s weight loss journey but can also bring about numerous other health benefits such as fitness, general body health and improved resistance against infections and other diseases.
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