bone broth, brain health, habits, healthy lifestyle, microbiome, nutrition, research, weight loss

What Your Food Says About Behavior: The Gut-Brain Connection Explained

Planned Behaviors

When I followed the GAPS diet for losing over 25 pounds and maintained for over 1.5 years, I was simply following a plan that was very restrictive. I learned within the first 3 days that you did not deviate from the plan.  And so I didn’t because it caused excruciating and debilitating physical pain and suffering; I ate a pickle. fermentation, probiotics, raw, vegetables

Again, there was no issue of willpower because the foods were very nourishing to my body and were real, whole foods.  The probiotic with each meal served the purpose of repopulating my gut with beneficial bacteria as well as stabilizing the gut-brain connection so that I didn’t crave food in the slightest.  What I did mentally miss was the variety of food and flavor that I always gave myself permission to indulge upon, regardless of value.

When tough mental times came, I caved and went back to my default behavior: falling back on sugar.  In fact, I remember saying to myself, “Screw it.”  I did the five pound fluctuation dance and then that turned to 10.  sugar, addiction, health, healthy eating, healthy diet

I had repetitively eaten so much sugar and over too long of a time period without “balancing” and restabilizing it with real food, especially bone broth and my favorite probiotic drink, that the sugar loving bacteria-also known as the fat-inducing kind, overpowered the beneficial ones and starved them out of existence.  From there, my mid line just continued to grow because those same fat bacteria then created even more destructive fat.

I’d also like to take a moment to address the other major issue for me with the GAPS diet.  It didn’t instill in me a love of real food because my body could only handle eating a small, select group of foods.  In order for the GAPS diet to be effective for its original purpose: detox, nourish, and heal the gut as a means to correct a debilitating, life altering medical condition, it had to use specific foods to accomplish that goal without fail.  For those individuals, this diet approach to healing was most often their last opportunity to cure what ailed them.

I was selfishly using it for vanity, but it did help me take ownership of several personal issues, thankfully!

Significance of Choice to Behavior

On the GAPS diet, there was a disconnect between the food, my choice, and overall enjoyment of food.  Did fruit taste overwhelmingly sweet and delicious after not eating one bite for a few weeks? Oh, yeah.  Heavenly.

fermented cranberry sauce, healthy food, rawDid I learn to enjoy some of the foods and the process of fermentation? Absolutely!  The diet, along with much help from my personal friend as a coach, made me very comfortable with preserving and eating fermented foods and probiotic beverages.  The food on my counter in jars wasn’t rotting, it was becoming its own super food!

And, despite returning to more refined flours and sugary foods, I did continue to make and enjoy probiotic kombucha tea, milk and water kefir drinks that I enjoyed at least once per week.

probiotic drink water kefir second ferment carbonation

A fizzy probiotic soda gave and kept my kids and spouse away from processed, convenience diet soda since it was readily available and not restricted.

The Brain Craves Food…and Meaningful Behavior

No food plan is going to attach meaning to your choices; it’s a personal decision. Not even RESET YOUR WEIGHT.  Fortunately, RESET YOUR WEIGHT capitalizes on the amazing combination of bone broth and fermented foods not only for their quick weight loss results, but as a brain-based reward that affirms the beneficial food/choice behavior.

The elimination of food cravings that definitely control your eating habits is your brain rewarding you by happily stopping the dictation of food choices based on energy and nutritional need.  For many, the removal of that viscous, dictatorial style is a very positive reward.

As you continue to choose foods based on nutritional value and preference, that brain-based action strengthens the neuronal network.  Eventually, the cravings-based circuit is pruned due to lack of use and you are left with the healthier, now automatic, sustainable behavior that enjoys healthy food and all the weight related benefits.   How else to do think people eat 5-9 servings of veggies each day in addition to lean protein and healthy fats?healthy fat, raw, vegetarian

While I am not quite at my body’s optimal weight, I know it is because I still have work to do to switch over my gut bacteria to a thriving “F ratio” that will be unaffected by occasional variety in food choices.  The reason why is reflective of educational psychology: I have attached significance and meaning to the behavior of eating real food, not the food itself, which wasn’t part of my first GAPS experience.

The GAPS diet weight loss served only one purpose for me: to lose weight quickly without having to change my preset, hardwired choices.  The experience remains a wonderful reminder to me that I did it and maintained it solely based on food choices.

I wasn’t concerned about what foods I ate as my body was able to maximize the food as fuel and nutrition effectively.  More importantly, I continue to receive testimonials affirming that the body is capable of sustainable weight loss, separate from emotional reactions to difficulties, when bone broth and fermented foods are incorporated regularly.healthy fat, broth, healthy eating, weight loss

Research and scientific evidence supports this gut-brain connection and the separation that is possible through the consumption of beneficial bacteria; bone broth nourishes and heals the body, delivering much needed and most often depleted nutrients to support that connection.

With RESET YOUR WEIGHT, by establishing new routines and finding your flavor through repetition and continued exposure, the longevity and ease of the journey to a healthy weight and slimmer waistline rewires the brain to find reward in those behavioral choices. Crazy, right?

Here’s proof:

Scientific Evidence for the Gut-Brain Behavior Connection

That Gut Feeling:

  • “the gut microbiome can influence neural development, brain chemistry and a wide range of behavioral phenomena, including emotional behavior, pain perception and how the stress system responds.
  • “Gut bacteria also produce hundreds of neurochemicals that the brain uses to regulate basic physiological processes as well as mental processes such as learning, memory and mood. For example, gut bacteria manufacture about 95 percent of the body’s supply of serotonin, which influences both mood and GI activity.
  • “Just as gut bacteria affect the brain, the brain can also exert profound influences on the gut microbiome—with feedback effects on behavior.

When Gut Bacteria Changes Brain Function:

  • “Most researchers agree that microbes probably influence the brain via multiple mechanisms. Scientists have found that gut bacteria produce neurotransmitters such as serotonin, dopamine and GABA, all of which play a key role in mood
  • “some microbes can activate the vagus nerve, the main line of communication between the gut and the brain. In addition, the microbiome is intertwined with the immune system, which itself influences mood and behavior.

Dr. Perlmutter, author of the best-selling Grain Brain and Brain Maker:

  • “what we do know is that the gut bacteria regulate several factors that do influence our state of mind.
  • “the microbiota living within the intestines play a large role in creating the various neurotransmitters that have a significant effect on mood, and these include chemicals like serotonin and dopamine.
  • “the gut bacteria regulate the level of inflammation throughout the body and including the brain. The chemical messengers of this process, cytokines, are known to be significantly involved in mood and how we perceive the world around us.

Happiness and Our Gut Bacteria:

  • “a small 2013 study… gave 12 healthy women a fermented milk product with probiotics… twice a day for 4 weeks. MRI scans showed the probiotic activated the prefrontal cortex and other brain regions associated with emotion regulation.
  • “the gut has a complex nervous system, which interfaces directly with the brain and allows bidirectional information flow…This close interaction suggests that aspects of brain development, function, mood, and cognition may be influenced by our gastrointestinal contents.

Targeting the microbiota–gut–brain axis to modulate behavior: Which bacterial strain will translate best to humans?

  • “Lactobacillus rhamnosus can modulate behavior and CNS (central nervous system) biochemistry
  • “We have previously shown that the probioticBifidobacterium longum normalizes behavior and CNS biochemistry.

Normal gut microbiota modulates brain development and behavior:

  • “Having established that the normal gut flora could modify behavior and gene expression in key brain regions
  • “Thus, this postnatal developmental change induced by the gut microbiota creates system conditions by which periphery pools of serotonin are carefully monitored and tightly regulated in early postnatal development. It is intriguing that the same neurotransmitter pathway is involved in the regulation of both food intake, bone remodeling, and behavioral brain functions.

Reset Your Weight jumps you to the front of the line with all this focused research, capitalizing on the direct link between weight loss from a healthy gut microbiome and the regulation of mood and behavior using probiotics and bone broth. 

Enlist the help of trillions of beneficial bacteria to make your transition to healthier eating habits that will make and sustain your weight loss.

Freedom to Choose Your Food and Behavior

The freedom to see and experience enduring choices that have both short term and long term benefits is fulfilling in a manner that processed food cannot deliver without detrimental effects.  Personally, I have no doubts about my abilities when the gut-brain connection is in balance; it becomes a victory regardless of any smaller, “ineffective” foods I may still decide to eat.

In fact, once you have the general habits in place, it is easier to spend focused time on a more resistant “unhealthy” behavior, like eliminating refined flour and sugar quick foods.  For me, these are pastas and breads.  Through meal planning, I’ve slowly replaced many of these quick foods with the time and skill needed to learn how to prepare whole grains and veggies so that they are both edible and delicious!

How did I do this? Lots of experimenting and dinners eating partially cooked, bland food that I followed up with a family favorite dessert (along with apologies ;).  I spent time scouring the internet for better recipes and found a handful that we all enjoyed.  I went to the bookstore, looking for cookbooks that had easy and quick recipes.

One blogger recommended sticking to your known, favorite recipes throughout the week and then experimenting with new ones on the weekends.  I think my family would have preferred that!  Advice I didn’t have in time that I’ll pass on to you.

Having the freedom to choose what and when to eat based on flavor-and not a dictated urge signaled by your body’s imbalances, is how you attach meaning to your desire and plan for sustainable weight loss.

What Your Food Says About Behavior

Returning the original thought of what your food says about behavior, I’d like for you to consider what may bother or use your time the most when it comes to food choices that aren’t as healthy as they should be for you to reach and maintain your optimal weight.

Clearly, food choices can directly and indirectly affect behavior.  By identifying and understanding why you could be drawn toward a certain food choice repeatedly is helpful when using food-as opposed to a pre-planned menu to follow, for sustainable weight loss.

My response would be emotional eating that oftentimes spirals into sugar food binges.  When become upset or feel pressured, I’ll immediately search for something sweet.  In analyzing my personal sugar and high, simple carb (refined flours) food choices, I tracked a migraine and “meanness” or shortness of patience the following day.

This, of course, made for another irritable day where I would then be more than likely to just finish off any left over binge food or just go straight for my raw honey jar with a dedicated spoon (and no tea mug). My spouse calls me Winnie the Poo due to my strong affinity for eating honey directly out of the honey jar.   If he times it just right, sometimes I even growl and hug the jar tighter.

The behavioral cause for this is my inability to use an effective calming technique that does not involve an immediate boost to my brain via an onslaught of sugar energy.  Done repeatedly, I’ve put all the excessive spoonfuls of honey onto my midline because my brain had gone numb to the excess (technical term is leptin resistance, which is the inability for your body to send the “you’re done” signal to the brain).

Food Coaching

Remember my personal food coach friend that drastically helped me survive on the GAPS diet?  As I was transitioning back to “normal” foods after 3 months on the introductory diet, I asked her, “Sooo, how much honey can I have?”

“How much do you normally have?” she asked.

“About one or two…tablespoons…when I want to…”

“Then none.”  I don’t actually know if I growled out loud or just in my head.

Let Food Change the Behavior

So how does someone who is already a stress-induced eater learn to walk away from her honey jar not just a few times, or long enough to lose a few pounds first, before the honey jar finds its way back to the front of the cabinet?

If I am (or anyone else…) is already too stressed, how would the immediate removal of the if-then or preferred reward behavior ever go beyond a few days, let alone well past the “long enough” time period “scientifically” stated by experts to form a new, healthier habit?

That’s exactly why I never “dieted” and my food coach literally shoved me through the “you-can’t-go-back” door that is known as the incredible GAPS diet.