What Are Food Cravings?
Cravings are defined as urgent, intense, and abnormal desires for something. They are some of the most common feelings, and are particularly associated with an influx of hormones, especially those escalated by pregnancy.
However, such random food cravings are becoming more and more common in regular people, which experts believe might be linked to specific nutrient deficiencies.
What Is The Link Between Craving Food And Nutritional Deficiencies?
The function of the human brain, while evaluated by thousands, remains a mystery in many aspects. We know so little about the brain, and the conundrum continues as we study more and more about it.
Per recent analysis, when your body craves a particular food item, it is your brain's craving for a specific nutrient that comes along with the food item you are craving to consume. For example, if you crave chocolate, your brain might be sending out signals that your body might need some magnesium — a compound present in rich concentrations in cocoa.
Potential Nutrient Deficiencies and Cravings
Craving specific food items can be related to nutrient deficiencies. Few examples are:
1. Magnesium deficiencies:
As discussed earlier, craving chocolate can be related to magnesium deficiency. However, it might not always be magnesium, either. Chocolate is also rich in vitamin B, copper, and essential fatty acids.
Magnesium deficiencies can also be manifested in the form of cravings for foods like nuts, beans, etc., which are healthier options for treating magnesium deficiencies than chocolate. Other treatment options include magnesium supplementation to ensure that you meet your daily Required Dietary Intake (RDI) instead of micronutrient levels from food.
2. Nitrogen deficiencies:
Cravings for foods like bread or toast may be associated with an insufficient nitrogen intake. If the nitrogen amount your body uses is higher than the amount it consumes, a negative nitrogen balance is created in your body.
This triggers your cravings for bread and toast. However, the healthier alternatives to eating bread for nitrogen are nutritional foods like leafy greens, nuts, citrus fruits, and seeds.
3. Sodium and chloride deficiencies:
Sodium and chloride deficiencies trigger cravings for salty food like processed or canned foods that are high in salt concentrations, wherein salts are added as preservatives.
Other cravings include fries, pickles, or just plain added salt on food. This may also mean you are dehydrated, so you should consume more fluids than normal. Salt deficiencies, nonetheless, are rare as the RDI for sodium and chloride is usually met by the food items.
4. Iron deficiencies:
Iron deficiencies are manifested as hankerings for red meat, or even dairy products like cheese and milk. Iron deficiencies are highly common, especially among children, vegetarians, vegans, and pregnant women. While nutritional foods for meeting iron requirements include green leafy vegetables, beans, etc., most of these foods do not contain enough vitamins to supplement the required intake.
Most doctors recommend iron supplements, which not only improve pregnancy outcomes but also boost growth in children. Iron supplements are available in the form of multivitamin supplements for women and children.
5. Calcium deficiencies
Craving fatty foods is often a sign of calcium deficiency. Another strange manifestation of calcium deficiencies is craving ice or other non-food items like chalk, laundry detergent, or even dirt! This is a disorder called pica, which is associated with low calcium and low iron levels.
This is typically diagnosed in children and is fairly common, but unreported. The prognosis for calcium deficiencies often includes healthier nutritional foods like seeds, pumpkin, hemp, etc., and leafy greens. However, the inconsistency of calcium content pushes doctors to almost always recommend calcium supplements. Apart from these, common cravings for sugary foods can also indicate calcium deficiency.
A number of studies have reported that multivitamin supplements can curb cravings, corroborating the fact that certain nutrient deficiencies trigger such cravings. However, it is also true that if nutritional deficiencies solely triggered food cravings, cravings for healthy and nutritious food like beans, nuts, or vegetables would be just as strong and intense as it is for chocolates and sugary foods. Nevertheless, there just isn’t enough data to prove whether cravings are related to nutritional deficiencies.
However, the observed general heuristic is that most nutritional diet deficiencies are triggered more by mental satisfaction than nutritional ones. This is postulated by the fact that cravings are highly subjective to gender, mental states, physiological states, stress, and even mood swings.
Regardless of these fluctuating associations, experts agree on a general consensus that poor nutritional diets are a driving factor, majorly because most people fail to achieve the RDI of essential nutrients and minerals these days. This can be combated by ensuring that recommended intakes are met through not just healthy and nutritional diets, but also additional supplements. This is where Origins Nutra aims to fit in, as an aid for millennials to help them overcome today’s health issues.
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