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When one of our MOTHER editors recently claimed to have gone several days in a row without eating chocolate, we were impressed. (Especially since we're on deadline for the December/January issue!) Others of us, present company included, seem to crave a silky bite of chocolate to combat deadline stress, or simply for a mid-afternoon pick-me-up.
Now a small study published in the Journal of Proteome Research explains that those nagging chocolate cravings actually could be caused by intestinal bacteria and metabolism. While everyone has bacteria in their guts, think probiotics, the colonies of bacteria found in chocolate lovers vs. abstainers was different. Researchers said the study could have a positive impact in the treatment of obesity if gut microflora could be manipulated to better process energy from food.
The Swiss researchers at the Nestle Research Center in Lausanne, Switzerland, studied a small group of men, some of which craved chocolate, and some of which reportedly were indifferent to its charms. Participants were all in good health, and were fed the same diets for five days. Urinary analyses found several differences between the groups in addition to gut bacteria, including more low-density lipoproteins, aka bad cholesterol, in the non-chocolate fans.
Sunil Kochhar, co-author of the study, said a person's diet can lead to metabolic 'imprinting' which causes the body to become accustomed to a certain diet. In a Discovery Channel article on the study, one American obesity expert said a connection between what you eat and what you crave makes sense since intestinal bacteria interact with the foods you ingest.
So perhaps Heidi's ongoing weight-loss diet has changed her body's desire for chocolate? And we all thought it was just willpower!