Diet Talk: Are Gut Bacteria Controlling Our Sugar Cravings?
Constantly looking for sugary snacks to munch on in between meals?
Most people do.
A chocolate doughnut, a bag of cookies or a bowl of ice-cream… they just can’t help it. But, it’s not entirely their fault. You see, there are many reasons why we go for sweet things… However, did you know that recent research suggests our gut bacteria may greatly influence the types of food we crave for? In today’s episode of Diet Talk, we talk about how some gut bacteria may be the biggest reason behind those sugar cravings… and how you can manage them the smart and natural way.
1. What Are “Gut Bacteria" & What Do They Do?
We have trillions of microorganisms that live in our gut — commonly known as gut bacteria. 
Most of these bacteria are “good” — they give us a ton of health benefits like regular bowel movements, stronger immunity to illnesses & better metabolism… While others are neutral… And some bacteria strains are just downright “bad” — they may cause diseases like Irritable Bowel Syndrome or wreak havoc on your metabolism (causing sudden weight gain). Yes, our gut bacteria play a pivotal role in our overall well-being. In fact, a growing body of research indicates that our gut bacteria influence several key bodily functions like sleep, metabolism & digestion.  But here’s the real kicker: Gut bacteria can also influence our sugar cravings.
2. How Do Gut Bacteria "Influence" Our Sugar Cravings?
Different types of bacteria in our gut crave different types of food. “Good” bacteria crave healthy foods such as bananas, apples and leafy greens… While “bad” bacteria are desperate for junk foods like cupcakes, doughnuts and cookies. Studies suggest that if we feed a particular type of bacteria more, it may cause a stronger craving in us for that particular “food”. When it comes to sugary stuff, this means… More sugary food = more sugar-loving bacteria = more sugar cravings. It’s a vicious cycle that starts and ends with what you feed the bacteria in your gut.
3. The Marathon Runner Study On How Gut Bacteria Manipulate Cravings
According to Dr Steven Gundry, M.D — world-renowned heart surgeon and doctor — in a podcast interview with Lewis Howes… In 2015, there was a female marathon runner in England who developed a severe colon infection called C. Deficil. The modern treatment for this is a stool transplant (yes, it is exactly what it sounds like) from a family member… so as to transfer healthy bacteria into her diseased colon. The lady managed to get a stool transplant from her daughter (who was overweight at that time)… and luckily, over the next few months, her C. Deficil cleared up. But here’s where it gets interesting:
One year later, the female marathon runner came back to the hospital and complained of “tremendous weight gain”. She had gained 36 pounds — even while maintaining her active lifestyle! Researchers hypothesised that the gut bacteria she got from her obese daughter may have made her hungrier and crave unhealthy foods that she normally wouldn’t eat.
4. So How Do We Prevent "Bad" Gut Bacteria From Controlling Our Cravings? "Thermogenic" Probiotics May Be The Answer
Most people know that off-the-shelf probiotics help with digestion and stomach problems.
These good bacteria multiply in our body, supporting our gut and immune system.
However, did you know there are also specific strains that can manage cravings and impact weight?
They’re called “Thermogenic” probiotics
These are specific strains of good bacteria that have been studied to ease cravings, boost metabolism, manage calorie absorption and break down fat cells.
In other words, these gut bacteria mirror the positive effects of thermogenic supplements like green tea extract, caffeine and capsicum without the negative thermogenic side effects like:
Elevated heart rates
Increase in blood pressure
Some of these natural thermogenic strains - L. Gasseri, B. Breve and B. Lactis - are commonly found in certain types of milk, cottage cheese, kombucha, sauerkraut and specific yogurts.
5. The Rise Of Thermogenic Probiotics In The Weight Loss Space.
In 2015, scientists in Japan researching the effects of a probiotic strain (L. Gasseri SBT 2055) made an interesting finding.
They ran a multiple center study where 210 people ingested the L. Gasseri strain with fermented milk for a period of 12 weeks.
The subjects were instructed not to make big changes to their diet and exercise routines to keep the variables consistent.
On average, the 210 people experienced positive results with an 8.5% impact on weight (specifically around their midsection).
Others reported reduced inches while being able to keep the weight off during the full duration of the research.
Strains like B. Breve and B. Lactis have also been through multiple tests/trials to understand their impact on increasing metabolism, supporting healthy cholesterol levels and acting as anti-inflammatories.
In addition, many people who have tried thermogenic probiotics for weight loss also report better energy, sleep, healthier cravings and better immune function.
And there's more...
6. The King’s College Twin Study On The Effects Of Thermogenic Probiotics.
Tim Spector, a professor and expert in gut microbes conducted a study which analyzed why some pairs of identical twins have significant differences in body weight.
The identical twins he studied had 100% of the same genes, grew up in the same environment and ate the same diet.
Yet one twin was overweight while the other stayed slim.
The researchers found that this could be due to the twins having different types of gut bacteria combination.
In particular, the slimmer twins had certain types of thermogenic gut bacteria which helped them to remain slim.
That’s not all. When the researchers took their gut bacteria and transplanted them into mice...
Mice who received gut bacteria from overweight participants gained weight and in time became obese.
7. Natural Foods & Supplements That Support The Weight Management Effects Of Thermogenic Probiotics.
In order for thermogenic probiotics to have a maximum impact on weight, there are a few key points you need to consider for best results.
- Manage Excessive Inflammation.
If possible, you should include curcumin supplements, olive oil, tomatoes and fatty fish like salmon in your diet as they are great support systems for joint pains, brain fog or low energy levels.
- Remove High-Fat, High-Sugar Diets
Addictive foods like bad fat and sugar are typically the root causes of poor weight.
Introducing moringa leaf (in supplement form), blueberries, strawberries, dark chocolate (80% cacao or more) or even eggs can help cravings for junk food.
- Improve General Gut Health
Having a mix of prebiotics and green leafy vegetables is very useful for people with existing gut issues.
Prebiotics are fibers that probiotics feed on to grow and colonize. They help with constipation, loose stool or stomach pains. Some Prebiotics can also help with poor sleep, anxiety and erratic mood swings.
8. Media & Publicity Around Thermogenic Probiotic Strains.
On 24th Feb 2014, Dr. Julie Chen, a gut health specialist mentioned on the Dr. Oz Show that:
“L. Gasseri inhibits a gene for fat production, so it speeds up metabolism.”
While research is still considered early, further clinical studies and great feedback from consumers have been supporting its growing reputation.
From medical doctors to naturopaths, most opinions on what's working in weight loss is shifting towards more natural solutions that reduce the risks of undiscovered side effects.
9. Final Thoughts On Thermogenic Probiotics & Their Impact On Cravings.
Gut bacteria may play a major role in influencing what types of food we crave for.
This can be a great way to support healthier cravings if we populate our gut with the right kind of bacteria.