Why Chocolate Cravings ?

Why do some people get cravings for that chocolate or  muffin,while others couldn’t seem to care less?I hear so very often people telling me how hard it is to quit sugar and give up that “comforting”  feeling that comes with chocolate -and it is such a “mood uplifter” too!

This may sound bizzare, but it seems that bacteria within us – which greatly outnumber our own cells – may very well be affecting both our cravings and moods to get us to eat what THEY want, and often are driving us towards obesity.

Researchers from UC San Francisco, Arizona State University and University of New Mexico in a review of the recent scientific literature BioEssays have found  that microbes influence human eating behavior and dietary choices to favour consumption of the particular nutrients they grow best on, rather than simply passively living off whatever nutrients we choose to send their way.


The Answer lies within the GUT

While it is unclear exactly how this occurs, it is  believed this diverse community of microbes, collectively known as the GUT MICROBIOME, may influence our decisions by releasing signaling molecules into our gut. Because the gut is linked to the immune system, the endocrine system and the nervous system, those signals could influence our physiologic and behavioral responses.

The Gut Brain Brain Axis:The interplay of factors affecting our mood, food choices and health.

“Bacteria within the gut are manipulative and they strive to achieve their own dietary goals as well.”More so these bacteria may also inhabit other members of the household-thus “influencing” foods habits and eventually the health of that household and community.

The good news is that our Bacterial ‘Friends” do listen to us..except we need to be somewhat firm to begin with ! We can influence the compatibility of these microscopic, single-celled house guests by deliberating altering what we ingest – in effect choosing what we are feeding our “guests”.Measurable changes in their composition can be detected as early as within 24 hours of diet change…with “fat and sugar loving” bacteria being replaced by ones that want  plant fibre to flourish.

Clearly our diets have a huge impact on microbial populations in the gut. It’s a whole ecosystem in there, and it’s evolving on the time scale of minutes.

So..if you want to take charge of your cravings..take note that it may be  your GUT MICROBIOME that is playing up on you! While it may be hard to introduce a change in the beginning – I recommend it’s a good  start to watch your head space.Stress has a huge influence on our food choices and  Mindfulness based meditation techniques can actually help “rewire” our brain circuitry..allowing us to Respond (and Restrain) rather than give in to  -our “Microbial Cravings”  ..and that’s a great start!


Author: Dr Arun Dhir,FRCS,FRACS

Gastro Intestinal Surgeon ,Health & Wellness Advocate


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