In our high stressed, fast moving lives, we are often overtired, overstressed, undernourished (although overfed), and immunocompromised. This combination has far reaches (beyond the-wanting-to-sleep-at-work feeling) that extend to the interruption of our symbiosis with our gut bacteria.
Um.. What? The human intestines contain ~100 trillion microbes (ten times more than any other cells in the body) comprised within four major phyla of bacteria: the Firmicutes, Bacteriodetes, Actinobacteria, and Proteobacteria. These microbes are under selective pressure to manipulate our eating behaviors and moods to increase their well-being; often at the expense of our overall health.
How does this come across in everyday habits? The struggle to resist certain cravings for foods that are high in sugar and fat (late night chocolate or almond butter anyone…) and increased inexplicable anxiety may be your gut flora sending messages, not a lack of “self control” or “freaking out”. The individual members of the microbiota have been shown to be highly dependent on the nutrient makeup of the diet. For example, Bifidobacteria grows well with a diet high in fiber, whereas Bacteriodetes does well with fat. In a comparison of the gut microbiota of obese to lean individuals there is a higher percentage of Firmicutes with a significantly lower percentage of Bacteriodetes, after a year-long dietary intervention, there was a significant increase in the Bacteriodetes (with a corresponding decrease in Firmicutes) and a signficant correlation to the percentage of fat mass lost with the rise in the percentage of the Baceriodetes.1
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