Does what we eat affect our mood?

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This is the second of a BBC series on how what we eat affects our mood.  It starts with an experiment carried out in Bournemouth on curbing rowdy behaviour at the end of a night out clubbing.  Chocolate in the form of Kit Kats was given out to the people leaving the club and due to the sugar in the chocolate giving a shot of energy and the endorphin raising effect of chocolate, there was a 60% drop in violence.  Endorphins are the natural painkillers of the body.

The clip says that some experts say that carb rich foods, such as cakes, rice, pasta, make us feel relaxed and happy.  Protein foods, such as fish and meat, make us alert and focused.

The second section of the clip concerns an experiment of 2 different lunches on the outcome of a short game of chess played by former UK chess champions.  One player ate a high protein meal of prosciutto ham and artichoke hearts, the other tagliatelle with an asparagus sauce.  After the meal, the man who ate the ham reported feeling alert and ready for the match.  The man who ate the pasta said he’d quite like to stretch out in the sun and go to sleep.  In the match, it was quite clear that the pasta man was struggling to concentrate, even though he did manage a draw in the end.

By all means conduct your own experiment.  Contrast eating a salad with plenty of protein at lunch, and then another day eat a sandwich or maybe sushi.

One thing I would add to all this is that it is a shame that both experiments involved wheat, since the effect of wheat itself causes drowsiness and endorphin release.  A better experiment would have been with a simple chocolate bar or with ham vs risotto, say.

The simple point of this blog is that what we eat directly affects how we feel.  Although this clip did not make this clear, how we feel also affects what we choose to eat. And this leads us into our exploration of neurotransmitters.

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