Slipping Into A Food Coma? Blame Your Gut Microbes

When you push away your plate, loosen your belt and announce, “I couldn’t manage another bite!” it may be your gut microbes talking, according to a new study. Researchers found chemical clues hinting that, when certain bacteria in the belly have had enough to eat, they tell the brain that it’s time to put down the fork.

About 20 minutes after a person eats, E. coli bacteria, which are common in the human gut, produce proteins that scientists have connected to a hormone responsible for appetite suppression response in the brain. This is one of the first studies to explore the mechanisms that connect microbial activity to responses in the human body associated with behavior.

What goes into your stomach benefits not just you but also your microbes. A single human body hosts more microbes than there are people on Earth — many, many times over. About 100 trillion bacteria, viruses and fungi live in and on every body surface, from your eyelids to your intestines. But not to worry — the vast majority of these microscopic squatters aren’t there to make trouble. Many are benign, and others are downright beneficial, helping your cells to process nutrients or fight off infections.

The biggest microbial hub in the human body is the digestive system, with 70 percent of all the body’s microbes inhabiting the colon alone. One of the species of bacteria living there is E. coli. The name may conjure up unpleasant associations with bowel disorders and digestive distress, but E. coli can be found in every healthy gut, and may be an active participant in shaping your eating habits, the new study suggests.

Whenever you eat — whether it’s a sumptuous holiday meal or just a snack — your microbes absorb those nutrients, too, which stimulates their reproduction. —> Read More