How Good and Bad Gut Bacteria Can Influence Our Diet Choice

imageThe article below was passed on to me by a colleague that works in the Neuroscience field. It is a fascinating article about how bacteria can send chemicals to our brain via the Vagus Nerve, in order tot get us to give the bacteria the food that it wants. For instance a bacteria that wants sugar might release chemicals that make us feel good when we eat sugar or chemicals that make us feel bad when we don’t.

The implications of this study are tremendous. We have a vast and complicated microbial world living inside of us, creating symbiotic and parasitic relationships with our body. Some of the bacteria have similar dietary goals and needs as we do, but others don’t.

The next time you’re stuffed from dinner, but than get your “second stomach” for desert, remember it may not be you that is actually hungry. Tiny microbial hitch hikers living in your stomach might be the one’s that are hungry for the sugar, and they could be releasing chemical messages to your brain making you think that you’re body needs sugar, and thus creating a craving.

Mindfulness is a useful trait to have in all aspects of life, and it is essential when it comes to diet and nutrition. Ask yourself, am I really hungry, or am I craving something? Often times when I have cravings Ill just drink water and they’ll go away. Or maybe Ill have celery sticks with humus or peanut butter to address my cravings. Fresh fruit like an apple or orange work well too. Usually I try not to cave into my craving, especially if it involves sugar.

A down side to eating for the parasitic bacteria living in your gut is that you have to process all of the waste and byproducts of the food you take in. This is going to slow down your digestive system, which is the most energy consuming process in the body. All this extra material is being ingested, digested, and processed through your body, just to feed a few little microbes.

The process to combat food cravings is slow and gradual, but very possible. I have a hard time eating sugar or sugary things these days because my palette has been shifted and things that taste good to most people taste unbearably sweet to me. Simply cutting sugar out of my diet for a few months created this shift, and I never really went back. Granted I do get my sugar cravings once in awhile, and I do cave into them as well. But once I start to notice a trend that Im eating a lot of sugar, and when I start to crave sugar in the middle of the day, that’s when I know I have a problem. I simply scale my sugar intake back and my palette corrects itself. The same goes for “comfort foods” such as potatoes, french fries, wheat and bread, pasta and other refined carbohydrates.

Nutrition and diet is not rocket science, it is simple and straight forward, which is what makes it so difficult. Being mindful of your actions, and being consistent with your actions are all that is needed to have a healthy diet and to stop feeding those pesky bacteria hitch-hikers!

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