When I was trying to lose weight, one of the most frustrating things was seeing other people NOT crave the foods I wasn’t allowed to have. Seriously, how can they NOT want to have tasty chocolate, chunky cheese or delicious bread all day long? (You see my vices right there, right?)
Being a chubby teenager, all I wanted was to lose weight and feel appreciated for more than just my pretty face and good grades. And I tried all kinds of methods and ‘magic pills’ to reduce my appetite or deprive myself from those ‘harmful’ foods.
But it wasn’t until I discovered how our gut-programming actually determines the type of foods we crave, that I was able to win the ‘battle’ against my excess weight. And never go on a ‘diet’ ever again.
Now I’m the type of person who solves things based on a deeper understanding of the problem. So I had an amazing breakthrough when I learned about our gut being programmed to prime our brains for specific foods. Let me share that insight with you today…It has all to do with PROGRAMMING our CRAVINGS. So here’s the science behind it…
From a young age, we are taught that microbes are harmful. The truth is, there is no escaping them. For as long as we’ve been around, we’ve co-existed with microbes and have learned to make use of them. The relationship is so strong that billions of bacteria invade us the second we start coming into this world, and develop into a community as we grow. Today, we’ll take an in-depth look at the MICROBIOME, how it works, and what that means for us.
THE HUMAN MICROBIOME
Every person has a unique microbiome that begins its development from the moment we are born. It takes at least two years for us to form a healthy microbiome ‘community,’ which is made of different bacteria, fungi, viruses, and many other microorganisms.
According to research, microorganisms essentially colonize our bodies and outnumber our cells ten to one. Meaning, for every 100 cells in your body, there are 1,000 non-human ‘units’.
THREE DIFFERENT TYPES OF MICROORGANISMS WITHIN AND ON US
The number of microorganisms within and on our bodies is mind-boggling, and there are thousands of different species. But, for the most part, we can classify these ‘alien’ microorganisms in three categories:
- The neutral passengers that do their thing, take up some space, and don’t cause us any harm,
- The intruders that can cause adverse effects from as minor as tooth caries to serious health concerns such as pneumonia,
- The beneficial fellows that mostly reside in the gut and help us digest food, absorb nutrients, and even produce specific vitamins such as niacin.
THE ROLE OF THE GUT MICROBIOME
The gut microbiome is an incredibly complicated system of microorganisms that may impact us much more than we imagine. The beneficial fellows we mentioned above are a community of up to 380,000 billion and come from up to 5,000 different species of microorganisms.
In recent years, research has begun to understand some of the gut microbiome’s effects on our health, behaviors, and food preferences. In fact, there is actually a dialogue between the gut and the brain through the VEGA NERVE, which we are just now beginning to overhear.
Through this VEGA NERVE, our gut microbiome sends signals to the brain for food preferences and cravings. Some microorganisms within the body prefer ‘healthy’ foods such as vegetables; others prefer donuts (well, sugary foods). A third category prefers greasy foods, and some go for starches.
And the more we eat of a given food, the more our gut microbiome changes to facilitate for our habits, and the more we start preferring (and even craving) the foods we eat. This is something that’s been observed in research as obese individuals who switch to a healthier diet display a shift in their gut microbiome.
HOW WERE YOU PROGRAMMED?
Different foods are processed by different elements of the microbiome. Let’s say, as a child you always got scrambled eggs for breakfast. Your body created matching microbiomes to properly digest the nutrients in the eggs and grow a strong and healthy body. If you then started eating oatmeal, the microbiomes for scrambled eggs can’t process it. Your body will have to alter your microbiome to process the oatmeal. Being a most efficient, lazy twat, our bodies definitely prefer we eat more of the same food rather than it having to alter the microbiome for each new food we eat.
I experienced this when I changed from cow’s milk to almond milk. When I first tried almond milk, I found it tasted like glue. But I tried it as an experiment anyway and got used to it after about three weeks. A few weeks later, I ran out of almond milk. But I still had cow’s milk for my kids, so I used that. Man, was that horrible!
I actually disliked the sour, fatty taste it left in my mouth but could definitely understand what I appreciated in it so much before. That was a personal experience of the evolving of the gut microbiome and how it affects how we experience taste and subconsciously program our cravings.
SO WHAT DOES THIS MEAN?
What we can take away from it, is that our food choices impact our food preferences and cravings. So, by making conscious decisions to eat healthier foods, we can slowly reprogram ourselves to prefer healthier foods and lose the cravings for processed junk.
EFFECTS OF ANTIBIOTICS ON THE MICROBIOME
It’s no secret that antibiotics are a fantastic advancement in medicine. We’ve all had to take them at some point in our lives, and we are much better off for having access to them.
But, while antibiotics eradicate harmful microorganisms that cause infections and illnesses, they also completely annihilate the community of beneficial microbes within our gut. This is why I would think twice before taking antibiotics. It won’t help to take probiotics at the same time you take antibiotics, but if you DO have to take antibiotics, have plenty of PROBIOTICS after finishing.
Knowing what you know now, there’s no better time than AFTER ANTIBIOTICS to REPROGRAM the microbiome to digest HEALTHY foods. The 3 weeks after having the antibiotics are an amazing opportunity to recolonize your microbiome with health-food-craving microorganisms.
You could take prebiotic and probiotic supplements (ie greens), you can also consume more foods rich in these healthy and beneficial probiotics and prebiotic bacteria. Anything fermented like sauerkraut and gherkins, contain great probiotics. Some of them include:
- Cheeses such as mozzarella, Gouda, and cottage
Think of one thing YOU can add to your diet or replace today that would support your healthy lifestyle in the long run. And then DO that for at least 3 weeks. I would love to hear what you would like to change about your cravings and appetite. Let me know in the comments below!
Valerie Ketjen – aka Miss Vitality
Inspire Intelligent Awareness
PS – Check out the video below to see how I incorporate CHILDS PLAY and HARIBO into this particular lesson about the microbiome… (watch til the end)