A poor food choice is often judged as a lack of self control. The choice of a greasy or sugary food over a healthy alternative is seen by many as a reflection of an individuals discipline and priorities. But research suggests that there might be more to it…
For many people the struggle to resist unhealthy food cravings is an everyday challenge.
The desire for fat, carbs or sugar can be overwhelming.
You know which foods you should be eating but food cravings can be too strong, leaving you with feelings of guilt and remorse.
Lets put aside our judgements for a moment and consider a different angle to unhealthy dietary choices.
The colony of bacteria in your intestine is collectively known as your microbiota.
It contains more than a trillion microorganisms and science is only just beginning to understand the role it plays in so many facets of health.
Research has shown that the composition of the gut microbiota differs between lean and obese people.
Studies also show that certain species of microbes require particular nutrients to grow and thrive.
Bacteroidetes for example, prefer particular fats, Bifidobacteria love fibre and Roseburia spp. grow best on sugars.
A dominance of a particular bacteria therefore, may be associated with a demand for certain nutrients to feed its growth.
Have you ever wondered why some people are obsessed with chocolate while others can take it or leave it? A 2007 study found that subjects who desired chocolate had different microbial metabolites in their urine than subjects who were “chocolate indifferent”.
The gut microbes also have a role in neurotransmitter production with much of the bodies serotonin and around half of its dopamine being produced in the intestine.
This is interesting because neurotransmitters are big players in appetite and fullness regulation - dopamine and serotonin both decrease appetite, and serotonin also decreases carb cravings…
What causes an imbalance in gut flora?
Stress, diet, genetics, illness and certain medications can impact the balance of the microbiota causing dominance of particular strains.
Signs of an imbalance in gut flora can include one or more of the following - gas, bloating, constipation, diarrhoea, poor mood, poor immunity, thrush (candida), food cravings and skin conditions.
So how do you improve the health of your gut?
Its an incredibly complex system and restoring balance can be tricky. If you think that your intestinal health may be a problem consult your practitioner for advice.