Gut Bacteria

Can't stick to your diet? Your GUT BACTERIA could be to blame for junk food cravings
• Gut bacteria could govern dietary choices, cravings and eating behaviour
• Bacteria sends signals to the body, encouraging it to consume the food on which the microbes thrive
• Some bacteria feeds off fatty foods, while others live off sugars
• Scientists manipulated types of bacteria in the gut by altering a person's diet
• Hope their discovery could help treat obesity-related diseases
By Lizzie Parry for MailOnline
Published: 14:08 GMT, 18 August 2014 | Updated: 17:34 GMT, 18 August 2014
Willpower may not be the only barrier threatening a person's ability to stick to a healthy diet.
A new study has found microscopic bacteria living in a person's gut could govern dietary choices and eating behaviour.
The team of scientists at University College San Francisco, Arizone State University and the University of New Mexico, found gut bacteria could be responsible for certain cravings.
Researchers found the bacteria sends out signals to the body, encouraging it to consume the food on which it thrives.

A new study carried out at three U.S. universities has found microscopic bacteria living in a person's gut could govern dietary choices and eating behaviour
The gut contains large numbers of different types of bacteria, which feed off the fats and sugars in the foods we eat.
Doctor Carlo Maley, a corresponding author on the study, 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.'
Some bacteria increase a person's desire to eat fatty foods, while others thrive on sugar.
But the team have also found they can manipulate the types of bacterial species in the gut by controlling a person's diets.
They hope their discovery could help prevent obesity-related diseases including cancer.
Dr Maley said: 'Fortunately, it's a two-way street.
'We can influence the compatibility of these microscopic, single-celled houseguests by deliberatly altering what we ingest, with measurable changes in the microbiome within 24 hours of diet change.
'Our diets have a huge impact on microbial populations in the gut. It's a whole ecosystem, and it's evolving on the time scale of minutes.'

Scientists hope the breakthrough will help combat obesity-related illnesses including cancer
Because the gut is linked to the immune system, the endocrine system and the nervous system, those signals could influence our physiologic and behavioural responses.
The research suggests gut bacteria may affect eating decisions through the vagus nerve, which connects 100 million nerve cells from the digestive tract to the base of the brain.
Senior author Doctor Athena Aktipis said: 'Microbes have the capacity to manipulate behaviour and mood through altering the neural signals in the vagus nerve, changing taste receptors, producing toxins to make us feel bad, and releasing chemical rewards to make us feel good.'
The study has led researchers to conclude it may be possible to alter our lifestyles and mood, by actively controlling the bacteria living in the gut.
In mice, certain strains of bacteria increase anxious behaviour.
And in humans, one clinical trial found that drinking a probiotic containing Lactobacillus casei improved mood in those who were feeling the lowest.
Dr Aktipis added: 'Altering our microbiota offers a tractable approach to otherwise intractable problems of obesity and unhealthy eating.'
The scientists have recommended further research is carried out to see how the control of bacterial species within us could help prevent diseases linked to obesity.
Dr Aktipis said the evolution of tumours and of bacterial communities are linked as some of the bacteria that normally live within us cause stomach cancer and perhaps other cancers.
She added: 'Targeting the microbiome could open up possibilities for preventing a variety of disease from obesity and diabetes to cancers of the gastro-intestinal tract.
'We are only beginning to scratch the surface of the importance of the microbiome for human health.'
The new study was published in the journal BioEssays.

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