What we eat has an impact on our behavior and well-being. In addition to providing vital energy and essential nutrients, food plays an auxiliary role in regulating our behavior from the vigilance of mind to sensitivity to pain.
What we eat has an impact on our behavior and well-being. In addition to providing vital energy and essential nutrients, food plays an auxiliary role in the regulation of our behavior from the vigilance of mind to sensitivity to pain through the influence of certain chemicals acting in the nervous system.
These influences were presented in two new works, carried out on groups of volunteers. The first published in Physiology and Behavior (1997) concerned the wonder of men and women who were marveled at, assigned to two groups of high fat and low carbohydrate as well as high carbohydrate and low fat diets. The aim of the study was to investigate the effect of high and low carbon carbohydrates on sleepiness, mood and hormone levels.
As expected, people who eat high-carbohydrate meals have increased their insulin levels. As you know, insulin causes drowsiness, which explains why after eating foods containing a lot of sugar, we want to sleep. Then it was shown in the study that high-fat meals stimulate the release of a hormone called cholecystokinin (CCK) produced both in the intestine and in the brain. In the gut, CCK causes the gall bladder to contract, which leads to the release of bile. Bile emulsifies fats contained in food, breaking down larger fat molecules into smaller ones, thanks to which fat-digesting enzymes (lipases) have a minor task.
The role of CCK in the brain remains a mystery. Some studies say that it was supposed to reduce appetite; others in turn indicate its sedative properties, which were to be associated with CCK-dependent release of another brain hormone oxytocin. Oxytocin participates in the organism and the subsequent feeling of diarrhea, which often occurs in women after sexual intercourse, but its main task is to stimulate uterine contractions during delivery.
The sedative effect of oxytocin may be related to its stimulation of the response from the vagus nerve, which may cause drowsiness. Perhaps this mechanism occurred in the high-fat group.
Within two or three hours after eating a high-fat and low-carbohydrate meal, the study subjects reported a reduction in alertness. On the contrary, people from the high carbohydrate and low fat groups felt more vigilant after the same time.
This discovery contradicts the common belief that eating large amounts of carbohydrates would cause fatigue. The reason for this was the increased secretion of serotonin in the brain, which is known to increase fatigue.
Another work, also published in Psyhology and Behavior, investigated the impact of diet on the sensation of pain. The study was conducted on a group of eight men and eight women who ate high-fat and low-carb meals or vice versa, and were then subjected to a standard test of pain perception called the cold grip test.
In the low-carbohydrate and high-fat groups, less sensitivity to pain was observed than in the high-carbohydrate and low-fat groups.
Again, this effect is attributed to the release of CCK under the influence of fat consumed.
The strongest reduction in pain occurred one and a half hours after eating a high-fat and low-carb meal.
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