Cookies. Woman eating chocolate chip cookie. Cute mixed race chinese / caucasian model.

You may already know how important the microbiome — the massive collection of bacteria that resides mostly in your gut — is to health and well-being.

You may also know that this ecosystem is so sensitive that it changes with every bite of food you eat.

But did you know that these microscopic inhabitants of your gut can influence you as much as you influence them?

That’s what a new study, published in the journal BioEssays, suggests.

Researchers have determined that, although what we eat can change the kinds of bacteria living in our gut, the bacteria themselves may be telling us what to eat; the sugar-loving bacteria want us to dig into that chocolate cake, while the fat-loving species prefer bacon, and so on.

But how does this happen, and what do these findings mean for our diet choices and health?

While it is unclear exactly how this occurs, this diverse community of microbes (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 behavioural responses.

Fortunately, it’s a two-way street. We can influence the compatibility of these microscopic houseguests by deliberating altering what we ingest, with measurable changes in the microbiome within 24 hours of diet change.

Whew, that’s a relief! We’re not totally at the mercy of bacteria!

So, the next time you find yourself wanting to chow down on a gooey iced doughnut calling your name, remember that it’s not really you who wants it — it’s your bacteria.

If you’re interested in learning more about the microbiome and what an important role it plays in well-being, check out the video Gut Reaction (Part 1) on Catalyst last week! Click here.(28 mins)

 

Of course it is always great to hear what you think. Just leave a comment below.