How to Reduce Your Cravings
Struggling to combat cravings? Cravings can strike at any moment, and hormonal imbalances have more of an impact on our hunger than we may realize. As women, there are times during our hormonal cycles that can cause us to feel a surge of hunger and crave things like sugars, salts, carbs, and more. The primary culprits are the menstrual cycle and menopause.
When hormones in the body become imbalanced, they can trigger the release of other hormones responsible for regulating hunger and inaccurately send signals to our brains that we need more calories to meet our body’s needs. This can cause us to consume up to an extra 300 calories than we need in a day.
So if cravings are caused by these hormonal imbalances, what can we do to fight back?
Balance Gut Microbiota
The first place to turn to is your gut microbiome. Often times, your hormones will change in response to an imbalanced microbiome. There are millions of bacteria that live inside the digestive tract, each of them is responsible for helping break down foods and sending information to the brain. However, when some bacterial strains are more populous than others, it can cause problems.
Having healthy, balanced bacterial cultures can help support the regulation of your hormones and how effectively information gets sent to your brain. When bacteria become imbalanced, it can become easier for your body to be tricked into thinking it needs sugar or salt, because that is the information that the imbalanced gut bacteria is sending to the brain. Your gut bacteria may be craving something, in particular, to help it grow or to help decrease the populations of other gut bacteria.
Think of it as a war for dominance between bacterial strains. Each of them wants to grow to the largest population size it can because that’s how it thrives. However, when you have too many bacterial strains at higher levels than others, those smaller bacterial cultures that help regulate the nutrients that get absorbed into your body, start to suffer and can’t supply your body with those nutrients as well anymore.
So what can you do? Rebalance your gut microbiome by depositing probiotic cultures into it. Probiotic supplements and probiotic-rich food sources can help you rebalance those bacterial cultures.
Feed Gut Bacteria What It Needs
Balancing the numbers is only one step in the solution. Bacteria can’t thrive without the right kind of sustenance. It needs to be fed, just like we do, and it has its own nutritional requirements.
Your gut bacteria need fiber. Fiber is the part of plant-based foods (i.e. fruits, vegetables, grains, and nuts) that the human stomach can’t digest on its own. Bacteria break down fibers and utilize them to help absorb nutrients into the bloodstream. Without enough fiber, the bacteria in your gut can’t remain at a healthy size and they can’t effectively extract nutrients that your body needs.
Increasing your fiber intake in your diet can help feed gut bacteria and keep them at steady populations by slowing down digestion. This process can also help lower appetite and suppress food cravings. Increasing the time it takes to digest food can help gut bacteria gain the necessary nutrients that both your gut microbiome and the rest of your body need.
Supply Your Gut-Brain Axis With The Right Information
That information loop between your gut bacteria and your brain is called the gut-brain axis, and it’s probably the most important relationship that your body has to maintain. There are a few hundred million neurons respectively in the gut and the brain. These neurons continuously send information between the gut and the brain, in a kind of information loop.
This includes sending information to your brain when you’re hungry or craving specific foods. The information sent from your gut bacteria to your brain, and vice versa, can wrongfully trick your hypothalamus into consuming foods that your body doesn’t necessarily need. Supplying your gut with the right probiotics, the right foods (mainly fiber), and drinking enough water to help maintain a healthy gut can all benefit the gut-brain axis and supply it with the right information.
You Can Take Control Of Your Gut
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