Relationship Between Food And Happiness
If you compare the human body to a car, food is just like petroleum which is burned to produce energy. Without petrol, the car will not move. Likewise, without food, the human body will lack the energy to perform properly. In fact, there are several studies that have shown that hunger can make someone to be angry.
If you ask many people the reason why they eat, their response will likely be “to live” – but in reality, it goes beyond that. Have you noticed that you get excited when you are served with your favorite dish? The mere sight of certain foods can cause the release of ‘feel good’ chemicals in the brain like serotonin.
While there are scientific studies that suggest there is a relationship between food and mood particularly happiness, the details on how this is achieved remain unclear partly because some of the reports have been conflicting. For example, there is a research conflict on which is the healthiest food. Some studies reported the Mediterranean while others are in favor of Paleo.
Expert Opinion OnFood And Happiness
Irrespective of the research disparities, if there is one thing that experts agree upon, it is that the food we eat has a huge impact on our mood and emotions. In an interview, an expert and author of several books including Food & Mood, Elizabeth Somer said,
“There has been a growing body of evidence, both animal studies, and human studies, to support that we really are what we eat, physically and mentally.”
Source: First We Feast
This makes a lot of sense considering that the only place the brain which is in charge of all emotions and mood gets its nutrition solely from our diet. Inasmuch as it is difficult to explain the link, the impact is not entirely ruled out.
Somer explains that the human brain has been wired for survival and to seek pleasure and foods like fat, salt, and sugar are potent pleasure deliverers. The sight, smell, or memory of these food groups is enough to cause the mouth to water. This is because they cause the release of dopamine and serotonin which makes us feel good.
Where Do Dopamine And Serotonin Come From?
A low level of serotonin has been linked with depression. Well-known anti-depressants function by raising the level of serotonin. The key amino acid required for the synthesis of serotonin is tryptophan. If there is no tryptophan in the body, serotonin cannot be produced.
Tryptophan is present in foods rich in protein. Protein is a formed by the coming together of several amino acids and tryptophan happens to be one of the amino acids. Logically, one may want to think that consuming protein-rich food will sustain their happiness because of their high level of tryptophan. Unfortunately, that is not true.
When protein is digested, over twenty amino acids are released and they compete to enter the brain. Tryptophan loses out in the process. According to Somer, only an all-carb snack can spike the levels of tryptophan which is then used as a precursor for serotonin. In the end, the goal should be to eat healthily and stay healthy rather than aiming for a quick fix.