Whether we know it or not, our bodies are homes to ecosystems of microorganisms that may have a profound effect on what we crave regularly and that in turn affects if we lose or gain weight. They may drive us to become obese by getting us to eat what they want us to. Instead of growing on what we eat, they make us want what they need in order to grow optimally by influencing our eating behavior.
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How this works
Different kinds of bacteria thrive on different kinds of food. While one type prefers sugar others may need fat more. This results in the different species contending for these different foods which is why we keep craving them. How these organisms succeed in controlling our cravings is not clear but it is suspected that it is achieved by the release of signaling molecules into a person’s gut.
Our physiologic and behavioral responses are also affected by this because the nervous-, endocrine and immune system is linked to the gut. Even though these bacteria are very manipulative, some will manipulate you to eat the right stuff, those things that we aim to consume. We can change the negative cravings into positives by modifying what we take in. Very tangible differences can be noticed after just 24 hours on an improved diet. In short, you will create an ecosystem of bacteria that consumes what you do as those that need what you don’t eat will starve out to a point where you won’t be affected by what their influences tell you anymore.
Another way that allows them to partially manipulate what we want to eat is by acting through the vagus nerve that is connected to around 100 million nerve cells that runs between the digestive system and the base of the brain. It is achieved by the modification of the neural signals. This changes our taste receptors causing us to feel ill by producing toxins. As soon as we eat what they want they ‘reward’ us by releasing a chemical that makes us feel good again and in essence ‘training’ us to eat what they grow best on.
Clinical trials performed
A trial on human subjects revealed that the intake of a probiotic called Lactobacillus Casei improved the moods of those afflicted by this bacterial effect. Further tests have been proposed to determine the exact hold these microorganisms have over us. They want to see if bacteria transplantation could cause a subject to crave something different from what they usually do if a different strain of bacteria is introduced to the gut. Because they change and evolve very fast you may get quick results by repopulating a certain strain of bacteria in your gut with simple changes in your diet and supplementation. These alterations may help us to be less obese and healthier. It is thought that even stomach and other types of cancer cells may be prevented from forming by targeting specific strains of bacteria that may cause them.