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Go with Your Gut to Cut the Cravings

WRITTEN BY Kristina Campbell, MSc

“Listen to your body” is good advice for the most part—when your body wants something perfectly reasonable, like a brisk walk. But other times, it can be problematic: what if your body is unmistakably telling you to eat a massive plate of french fries with gravy?

WHAT’S WITH CRAVINGS?

A food craving is a strong desire for a specific item, either to experience its pleasant effects or to avoid unpleasant feelings of withdrawal. As long as you crave nutritious foods such as oranges or Swiss chard, everything’s fine and dandy. Yet it’s very common to crave foods that are a poor choice, health-wise: high-calorie foods such as pastries or potato chips, for example.

Scientists who study the biology of food intake have determined that cravings—also known as disruptions in normal feelings of satiety—depend on complex factors including hormones, food-related habits and cues, and stress levels. Even genetic factors can influence the hormones that keep you feeling satisfied and free of food cravings.

Lately, however, researchers have identified a potential new contributor to the experience of cravings: the gut microbiota, which is a community of bacteria, fungi, and other microbes living in your digestive tract. …continue reading