Food Cravings and Your Microbiome

Microbial cells in the body outnumber our own cells 10-1. By definition this makes us literally more microbial than human in our makeup. Research has shown that that our gut bacteria or microbiome have a profound and direct affect on our moods, anxiety, memory, metabolic function and food cravings. In an article published in the journal Bioessays – ” Is Eating Behavior Manipulated by the Gastrointestinal Microbiota?: Evolutionary Pressures and Potential Mechanisms” explored the real possibility that our bacteria ” may be running the show – controlling our thoughts and behaviors in order to ensure their survival.”

As I discussed in previous blogs it is clear that our gut and digestive system might not only be a ” second brain,” it might have a powerful influence on our behaviors.

An excerpt from Dr. Robynne Chutkan from her new book The Microbiome Solution

We often blame our food cravings on our lack of willpower. It turns out that our microbes have something to do with it. When sugar-loving species gain a foothold in our gut, we may find ourselves craving and eating more sweets. What we think of as just a wicked sweet tooth may actually represent specific communities of bacteria directing us to behave in a way that ensures their survival, despite its negative effects on our health. Gut bacteria are able to influence our food choices by releasing molecules that affect our brain, including hormones like serotonin that affect mood and make us feel good after eating certain foods. They can even change the properties of taste receptors so that particular flavor are more or less satisfying to our palate.”

She goes on to write: ” There’s intense competition for space within the digestive tract, so microbes are under a lot of selective pressure to procure the right food to enhance their survival – or suppress their competitors’.”

Dr. Maley, one of the authors of the Bioessays artcle writes: ” From the microbial’s perspective, what we eat is a matter of life and death.” 

Dr. Chutkan suggests – ” This may explain why most of us struggle and feel powerless to resist certain kinds of foods – we may not actually be the ones making the decision!”

This phenomen seems to be correlated directly with processed sugars and carbohydrates. Reduce these foods and you can reduce the  species of bacterial pathogens that thrive on them and create havoc on our gut!