Does Your Gut Help Control Food Cravings?
A Power Struggle Inside The Gut
Food cravings — why do you have them? We tend to think food cravings are normal and there is not much we can do about them, but there is much more to it than this. This is a time of change. A time to look at the way we function in this world and do it differently than ever before. It’s a time to understand and use our body as a tool to teach us and help us. It's not hard once you understand how to work with your body and your trillions of microbes. They were put inside of you for a reason, and what a difference it can make when you understand how to make these changes.
How can tiny microbes, and remember we have trillions of them inside us, change whether you crave chips or broccoli? Researchers at the University of California, San Francisco,  found that the bacteria in your body can sway how full you feel and can also tap into the nerve pathways that link your stomach and your brain. The vagus nerve plays a major role in brain-gut signaling. This nerve acts as a major highway in the brain-gut connection by connecting over 100 million neurons in the enteric nervous system to the medulla (located at the base of the brain). Microbes can produce neurotransmitters in the gut which affect the brain. Research has shown that therapy using a vagus nerve blockade can lead to marked weight loss, while vagus nerve stimulation is known to trigger  excessive eating.
Many gut bacteria can manufacture special proteins  (called peptides) that are very similar to hormones (such as leptin and ghrelin) that regulate hunger. Humans and other animals have produced antibodies against these peptides. These microbes can directly influence how we eat and they do it through their peptides that mimic hunger hormones or indirectly through antibodies that can mess with appetite regulation. So not only can microbes tell your brain what to crave, but they can also change your taste receptors, making some foods seem more appealing than others. Microbes have ways to manipulate us into eating or not eating certain foods. So, if you have a gut filled with microbes that depend on sugar, those microbes would then be under strong pressure to get you to eat more of what they depend on, potentially leading to cravings for those foods - sugar in this case.
Why You Crave Certain Foods
Do your microbes crave salty foods like chips? When our adrenal glands are overtaxed, cortisol will be running high and this is a process that requires lots of sodium to keep the adrenaline going. Craving salty foods is a big sign that your adrenals need some support. Adrenals need tons of vitamins B and C - and guess what foods have a lot of B and C vitamins? You got it - cultured foods supply lots of B and C vitamins and having the right gut flora is crucial to absorbing B vitamins. Without these vitamins, you’re just struggling and craving foods high in salt.
Do you have a lot of microbes making you crave sugar? One of the fastest ways to help this is to support your body with extra minerals and cultured foods. Often the first sign of an out-of-control blood sugar level is strong hunger. Minerals, and especially magnesium, along with probiotics are crucial to calming this down and bringing your gut back into balance. Eating sugar will make you crave sugar like crazy. It sets up dopamine receptors  in the brain that cry "MORE" along with making sugar-loving microbes that start to demand you feed them more! Sugar can even change the expression of taste receptors, making certain foods taste better; while all the while releasing hunger-inducing hormones. It's a hard battle to win if you keep eating sugar. It can take about three days to calm down if you restrain yourself from eating sugar. Adding cultured foods and lots of minerals to your diet will be a huge help!
How about fat - do you love fatty foods? Different species of bacteria have been shown to have a preference for fats. For example, Bacteroidetes has been shown to want specific fats. All microbes require a steady stream of substrates to grow and reproduce, and each one can have a preference for different food nutrients. Not all fats are created equal. Fats such as olive oil, avocado, coconut oil, and grass-fed butter are some of the fats that have made a huge difference for me and my health. Hydrogenated fats are the worst for your body and should be avoided. It's okay to have fat in your diet - just pick the good ones and make sure you keep it in balance with lots of prebiotic and probiotic foods.
Foods That Change Your Cravings
Let's go over the foods that will help you change your cravings to the ones that bring about health and wellness. Nothing is more powerful than craving foods that love you back. Your body is always sending you messages, and if you're struggling with different ailments then this is the body's cry for help. It's a warning sign and not the enemy. It's how your body talks to you.
Before you heal someone, ask him if he's willing to give up the things that make him sick.”~
L. Reuteri Yogurt
L. reuteri yogurt has had a profound effect on my cravings and appetite. It has kind of surprised me how effective it is. Among the many powerful and life-changing effects of Lactobacillus reuteri yogurt is that it increases oxytocin levels. Oxytocin is a hormone, produced by the hypothalamus, that does a lot. It has been shown to increase bone density, encourage feelings of empathy, and has an anorexigenic effect — which means it can turn off appetite. If you have ever experienced strong feelings of being in love, this can cause anorexia (loss of appetite).
Every morning, I have this L. reuteri yogurt with kefir in a smoothie. I used to always have something else with my kefir smoothies like toast or eggs, but since I started adding L reuteri I literally feel so full I can't do it. I can't tell you how many times I bound out of bed to have my smoothie and coffee thinking, " I'm going to have einkorn toast too!" and then I never do because I feel so full and satisfied.
I have been having a little of this yogurt for dessert with fresh strawberries and a drizzle of honey. It makes me feel so happy it's crazy. Is it the oxytocin creating these feelings of intense love for this yogurt? It must be; but whatever it is, I never want to stop the joy.
Kefir (a fermented milk or non-dairy drink that is much stronger than yogurt) is loaded with B and C vitamins and has over 50 strains of beneficial microbes. This food helps you absorb nutrients from the other foods you eat with it. Combine some kefir with prebiotics (like a fruit smoothie) and you’ll quickly start building new microbes. This is the place I started and what I benefited from the most. After a month of consuming kefir, I wanted to add more cultured foods. Then I tried kombucha and cultured vegetables and I was hooked. Everything in my life changed. I felt so good and never wanted to go back to the way I used to feel. Kefir was where it all started for me and continues to this day.
Adding a glass of kombucha (a fermented tea) will not only help feed your good microbes, but it will also help you eliminate the harmful ones. It powerfully assists the liver in detoxifying you and you'll get some big help in changing your gut flora. If you need a pickup in the afternoon or evening, a glass of kombucha can give your body just what it needs. It's one of the most effective tools I use for eliminating food cravings. Check out my podcast and article on this topic.
Cultured veggies will go a long way in doing a sweep of your gut flora. They're extremely powerful and loaded with tons of B and C vitamins. They will support your adrenals and I have had many people tell me they helped with eliminating food cravings and even helped with weight loss. They support your immune system because they contain large amounts of vitamin C. A few spoonfuls of cultured veggies can give your body just what it needs and help you absorb more nutrients from the foods you eat with it. It keeps hunger at bay, so try some and see for yourself what just a spoonful will do.
Prebiotics are powerful weapons against food cravings. Prebiotics are fibrous foods that feed your microbiome and allow it to grow and flourish. Everybody knows fruits and veggies are so good for you and your microbiome thrives on them. Juicing is a huge rage right now - did you know that the soluble fiber your microbes feed off of is in the liquid portion of the juice? This is why it's so effective in helping so many people change and become healthier. But you can also find these special fibers that microbes love in many foods such as berries, broccoli, leeks, garlic, kale, bananas, nuts, and seeds. Check out the link below to see them all. You will go a long way in changing food cravings by adding more fruits, veggies, nuts, and seeds to your diet. Your body loves them!
Listen To My Podcasts
We tend to think food cravings are normal and there is not much we can do about them, but there is much more to it than this. How can tiny microbes, and remember we have trillions of them inside us, change whether you crave chips or broccoli? Well, they can and I can explain how. Tune in to learn more.
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