We associate the Christmas season with indulgence – foods high in fat, salt and mostly, SUGAR! But have you ever wondered why some people seem to crave sugary treats so much more than others?
The answer partially comes down to the kind of microbes in a person’s gut, and the diet individuals have.
Certain gut bacteria (like Candida) live on carbohydrates, preferentially sugar. The gut directly communicates with the brain through the enteric nervous system, so when sugar levels are low, we are basically 'told' by our gut bugs that we need a sugar hit. This in turn encourages the growth of these organisms, causing a vicious cycle.
What's worse is that nutrient-low diets (ie. diets high in refined foods) also favour the development of 'virulence factors' in gut microorganisms, meaning they turn from being commensal (happy to just 'be' without being toxic) to causing damage to their host.
So what to do if you are one of those sugar fiends?
Your answer lies in eating fermented foods during the Christmas period. Sauerkraut, pickles and fermented chutneys ensure you are getting in some good bacteria to suppress the bad ones, and therefore reduce your cravings for sugary treats! While eating fermented foods doesn't give you a hall pass to eat sugary foods, you can at least be assured that your gut is getting some of its goodies back.
Merry Christmas to all of you! And… pass me the Sauerkraut :)