Okay, so maybe not Ridley Scott’s aliens, but sugar cravings are definitely influenced by the foreign puppeteers pulling the strings from inside your body.
The good news is that they are fairly happy to coexist with you, instead of bursting out of your chest like Porky Pig at the end of a Bugs Bunny cartoon…
You have probably heard that there are trillions of bacteria that live in your stomach and intestines. Did you know how much influence they have in maintaining your overall health?
Your gut microbiome (the bacteria in your gut) play a role in:
- How often and how badly you get sick…
- How well you digest food and extract nutrients…
- Your moods and risk for depression…
- How prone your body is to store belly fat…
- And even the development of ADD/ADHD in kids!
And now, new research suggests that the bacteria in your gut interact directly with your central nervous system.
BACTERIA AND SUGAR CRAVINGS
Researchers from multiple universities have concluded that your gut microbiome influences your eating and dietary choices and favors the consumption of the particular nutrients they thrive on rather than passively living off whatever nutrients you choose to send their way.
Some gut bacteria like fiber. Others (like you) loooove sugar.
So depending on the diversity of different bacteria types in your microbiome, you may be compelled to eat one way or another, in order to accommodate your tiny house guests.
When bacteria break down food molecules in your gut, they produce waste materials (just like us). Studies on chocolate cravings have found that even when eating identical diets, people who crave chocolate have different microbial breakdown products in their urine than people who are “chocolate indifferent”. Different ‘breakdown products’ means different bacteria in their tummy.
Well, those ‘breakdown products’ are one of the few substances in our body that are able to slip through the blood-brain barrier. There they mimic hormones that signal hunger or satiety, among other things. That’s right – bacterial poop influences your brain to change when and what you want to eat. Crazy, eh!
Bacteria are also able to produce neurotransmitters – chemicals normally produced by nerve cells to communicate with other nerve cells.
According to some sources, about 50% of the dopamine (your reward hormone) and up to 90% of your serotonin (your happy hormone) is produced in your gut.
Bacteria in your gut may also influence your ability to learn and form new neural connections (and maintain old connections).
Mice studies have shown that mice lacking a gut microbiota have decreased levels of brain-derived neurotropic factor (BDNF) in the learning and memory centers of the brain. BDNF is primarily responsible for maintaining the strength of connections between neurons and maintaining older connections.
So if your gut bacteria are dictators, controlling your thoughts and feelings to further their own agenda, how do we harness this influence to make it work for us?
INSTALL THE RIGHT BACTERIA WITH PROBIOTICS
One of the few dietary supplements we recommend at Beverly Family Chiropractic is probiotics. The bacteria contained in Life By Design approved probiotics will help to support your digestive, immune and nervous systems in a healthy way.
CUT OUT ADDED SUGAR
Feeding those bacteria that causes your sugar cravings will only strengthen their grip on your mind.
EAT FRUITS AND VEGGIES HIGH IN FIBER
Broccoli, brussel sprouts and berries are packed full of nutrients and many healthful gut bacteria thrive on high fiber, low sugar diets.
EAT MORE FERMENTED FOODS
Fermented foods such as kombucha, sauerkraut and kimchi come complete with healthful bacteria that colonize well in your gut.
EAT BY DESIGN
Eating By Design supplies you with the essential nutrients your body needs. It is also the diet of choice for many of the healthful bacteria in your gut. The more you feed them, the more they grow. And the more they grow, the more that they will suppress the sugar cravings coming from those bacteria who want you to eat chocolate all the time.