Today let’s talk about a subject that fascinates me: How can your bacteria make you do things.
My favourite author Ed Yong said once “I now see myself more and more as a vessel driven by my microbiome.” We feel you, Ed.
We are now pretty sure that cravings that you could have are influenced heavily by your gut bacteria. Mine seem to like cheese a lot.
But as I’ve been training my microbiome a lot lately, I am started to crave salads, and I swear that it never happened before.
How does it work?
Well every time you eat something, your gut microbiome evolves. You eat a donut, the fat and sugar-loving bacteria are going to feed and breed like crazy. You eat a nice salad full of fibres, you gentle bacteria are going to be happy and push the bad one away. It’s a comforting thought, you have a real influence every time you make a food choice.
And it’s a two-way system: The microbes in your gut can send signals to your brain through the vagus nerve, indicating they would like a bit more of this and a bit more of that. They can sense if some nutrients are missing in your gut, and request more. Sounds simple enough, but the pathway is extremely complex: if you want to see it!
The fact that microbes send information to your brain and can change behaviours is a new area of research, and a fascinating one. It’s called the gut-brain axis. It is also studied a lot in anxiety and depression. We touched upon this in our article on psychobiotics.
Further reading: this excellent article from the BBC.
-Marie, Gallinée’s founder