Beyond Weight Loss: Gut Bacteria

 

Our bodies are truly wonderful. They have adapted and changed according to our needs, preferences, and circumstances. One of the most clever ways that our bodies have learned to survive on Earth is through collaboration with other species.

 

Humans have an ongoing contract with microorganisms—bacteria, viruses, fungi. We’ve struck a deal with them: “In exchange for helping us to digest food, produce vitamins, and regulate our immune system, we will feed and protect you.”

 

We house them in our gut (and many other places) and give our food a one-way ticket to their front door, which they feast on happily. 

 

If you’ve ever taken pre- or probiotics, have ever eaten fermented foods for their bacteria content, or have ever eaten yogurt to improve your digestive health, then you’re probably aware of the gut bacteria that have set up shop in our body.

 

But did you know that the foods you take in feed different types of bacteria? It’s true! Not all of the bacteria in your gut eat the same foods. Some crave zucchini, others crave bread, and others still crave Twix. Not only that, but when we eat a lot of a certain type of food, we are cultivating more of the bacteria that feeds off of it and starving the others. We are essentially deciding, with the food we eat, what bacteria thrives in our gut and what bacteria dies.

 

What’s even more interesting is that those same bacteria send signals to your brain to eat more of the food on which it thrives. That’s right.

 

“Our gut bacteria plays a significant role in the food we crave.”

 

At first thought, this news may be frightening… “Oh no! I’ve eaten McDonald’s Filet-O-Fish sandwich for lunch eight days in a row… No wonder my brain is yelling for more!” But fear not! This news also means that you are in control of what your body craves! 

 

With this new awareness, you can acknowledge the craving for what it is—a signal from your “Filet-O-Fish” gut bacteria telling your brain that it’s hungry and wants more sustenance, and instead decide that you’re going to feed the bacteria that would rather a juicy hamburger patty (without the bun) topped with fresh tomato and avocado slices.

 

Of course this explanation of how bacteria tells our brain what to eat is over-simplified and likely not 100% accurate, but it is worth learning more about. We are worth learning more about.

 

Our bodies do their utmost to keep us healthy and capable. It’s what they were tasked with. But the decisions we make and the actions we take have an enormous impact on their ability to do their job. We can either build them up or destroy them. The choice is ours.

For more information on the gut-brain connection, read this article.

 

-Alexandra Trahan

CrossFit L-3

Head Coach CrossFit Statesboro