To curb food cravings, it's really important to understand what triggers them in the first place. We know inadequate sleep is one of the reasons, the other is brain activity and self control and the third more obvious one is will power. A study conducted at UC San Francisco, Arizona State University and the University of New Mexico, and published in the journal, 'BioEssays' gives us an interesting fourth reason. According to the study, the microbes or bacteria that grow in our gut manipulate the brain into making food choices that will help them grow big and strong, even if we grow fat.Researchers noted that microbes influence eating behaviour 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. Carlo Maley from University of California, San Francisco said, "Bacteria within the gut are manipulative. There is a diversity of interests represented in the microbiome, some aligned with our own dietary goals, and others not." These different microbes, collectively known as the gut microbiome, may influence our decisions by releasing molecules that affect certain organ systems or influence our brain through the nerve that connects the brain to our stomach, says the study.Because the gut is linked to our immune system, the endocrine system and the nervous system, the signals sent out by the microbes could influence our physiologic and behavioural responses.However, it works both ways - what we eat may also affect what the microbes need. Maly said, "People can influence the compatibility of these microscopic, single-celled houseguests by deliberately altering what they eat. There can be measurable changes in the microbiome within 24 hours of diet change."The authors concluded by saying that "Microbes can be easily manipulated by prebiotics, probiotics, antibiotics, fecal transplants, and dietary changes. This offers a tractable approach to otherwise intractable problems of obesity and unhealthy eating."With inputs from IANS
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