Before you reach for that mid-afternoon muffin, consider the fact that your cravings for particular foods may be linked to the flora in your gut. A recent study suggests that the microbial content of our digestive system may be responsible for the yearning we feel for certain foods. The number of bacterial cells in our bodies outnumber our own human cells by 10 to 1—is it possible that these cells are able to manipulate our desires? When it comes to food, experts seem to think so.
How does bacteria control cravings?
The Vagus Nerve is responsible for transmitting a number of signals between the brain and body, including the download of nutritional information from our digestive tract. By “hijacking” this nerve, bacteria are able to send messages of their own to our brain. If a particular type of bacteria needs fructose to flourish, you may find your sweet tooth stimulated and your hands groping for a sugary treat.
The study suggests that bacteria may have the ability to manipulate our brain chemistry. Our pleasure receptors are stimulated when we cave to cravings induced by bacteria—we are rewarded with a flood of “feel good” chemicals for listening to the signals sent from our gut. This can create a sticky situation for your waistline if the foods you’re craving are full of fat and sugar.
What can I do?
A great solution to balancing the microbiota in our gut is the use of probiotics. Because the flora in our digestive tract is extremely dependent upon our diets, finding a balance is easier than one would think. By adding probiotics from food and supplements to your diet, you can effectively change the bacterial landscape of your digestive tract. This indicates that it may be possible to reduce, or even eliminate, urges toward fatty and sugary treats caused by bacteria.
If you’d like to learn more about how probiotics work in the body, visit our Beginner’s Guide. Our line of products offer a convenient and delicious way to add probiotics to your diet. Shop our entire line here.