If you experience food cravings, you’re not alone. A whopping 97 percent of women and 68 percent of men report experiencing cravings for certain foods.1
Ever wonder why it’s so agonisingly haaaaaard to give up something that you know is bad for you? Sugar, for example. You know you should eat less of it. You try to cut back. But oh, the cravings – 4 o’clock comes around and you get shaky, and sometimes even head-achy, and before you know it, you’re reaching for that biscuit or chocolate bar to make the cravings stop. It’s like you’re in a battle of wills with someone else – and usually, you lose.
That’s because, to a certain extent, that’s true! It’s your gut bugs that are driving your cravings, and they do it through your vagus nerve.
What is your vagus nerve, and what does it do?
Your vagus nerve is one of 12 cranial nerves in the body that come in pairs and help to link the brain with other areas of the body, such as the head, neck, and torso.2
The vagus nerve is the longest of all your cranial nerves, running all the way from your brain stem to your colon, making stops at your larynx, oesophagus, lungs, trachea, heart, tongue and most of the digestive tract in between. Basically, your vagus nerve acts as a superhighway for communication between the gut and the brain.
But here’s the kickers – your gut bugs use your vagus nerve to control you, like a puppet master uses string!
Microbes Have Food Preferences, Too
You may think of the 2 kg of living bacteria inside your gut microbiome as one big, undifferentiated mass. But nothing could be further from the truth. The microbes that live inside you each have their own dietary preferences, just like people do! Yeasts crave sugar, Bacteroidetes enjoy fat, Prevotella love carbs and Bifidobacteria are fibre fiends.3 And they all require a steady stream of substrates to grow and reproduce.4
And here’s the really wild bit – if you don’t feed them what they need to grow, and they get a low concentration of the nutrients they need, they actually punish you! They do this via your vagus nerve, by releasing toxic compounds into your bloodstream that can make you feel sick, dizzy, weak and unwell! This puppet-master response is called “virulence.”5
Microbes can also increase our craving for food that they like by changing our taste buds, increasing opioid and cannabinoid receptors, and producing neurotransmitters such as dopamine and serotonin. So they also know how to make us happy.6
You got it – they’re working us!
You control their population
But don’t give up the fight just yet – because ultimately, you’re in control. You have two advantages over the tiny puppet masters that live inside your gut.
- You live longer than they do and
- You control the mouth.
Don’t laugh, these are serious advantages!
Your gut bugs only live 20 minutes or so. You can out-live them, and ultimately control their population. And the fact that you control the mouth, means that you are the ultimate arbiter of what they get to eat. You actually control the weather of your gut microbiome – the choices you make, determine the quantity and quality of the nutrients that rain down on that tiny inner ecosystem.
Here’s how it works. When you eat sugar, you’re doing two things at the same time:
- You’re feeding the sugar-loving bugs and
- You’re killing off the healthy bugs.
The population of bad sugar-loving bugs grows – and they begin to crave and demand more sugar, more often. Your poor broccoli-loving bugs shrivel up and their population dwindles – so you hardly ever crave broccoli!
This situation continues to get worse over time, until you have seriously depleted the variety of healthy bugs inside your gut. This is a vicious spiral – because inside your gut, diversity is the name of the game. You want as many healthy strains as possible in there. The microbiome of people who are ill or obese are characterised by a notable lack of diversity.7 This makes things even worse – less diversity gives you less protection against cravings, so the cravings get worse, the behaviour gets worse – you’re in a mess.
So how do we fix this?
Rather than running up against the iron door of our cravings without any armour, we need to outsmart the bugs. Add the good stuff in first, before you try to white-knuckle away the bad stuff.
You can do this with a 6-week Gut Cleanse:
- Take probiotic kefir daily. This both puts the good bugs into your gut, and suppresses pathogen growth, allowing you to begin to get a handle on the populations of bad bugs in there.
- Drink 2 cups daily of Gut Cleanse Tea. The dandelion, yellow burdock and dock root help to rid your gut of toxins and suppress pathogen growth. (Take for 3 weeks only. Detoxes should never be followed for more than 3 weeks, as they will deplete your system over time.)
- Take 1 TBSP daily of flaxseed oil. This powerful natural health booster has omega 3’s and also has the added benefit of making you feel full and satiated, so that you can make better food choices.8
- Continue to take kefir daily.
- Add in 10 g daily of Complete Prebiotic, to feed the good gut bugs. As you have now done a gut cleanse, the bugs you’re feeding will be the right ones.
- Continue with the flaxseed oil daily.
After 6 weeks of this gut cleanse, you will notice that your cravings are beginning to subside. You will be craving healthier foods, as the populations of bacteria inside your gut begin to be filled with good bugs, instead of bad ones. You and your good gut bugs will be on the same page. And you will naturally – easily – make better food choices!