Australian research reveals “comfort food” may reduce stress
Australian research revealed on Tuesday that “comfort food” such as chocolate can alter the chemical composition of the brain and reduce anxiety.
Professor of Pharmacology Margaret Morris from the University of New South Wales School of Medical Sciences, conducted a study of rats which showed the effects of past trauma could be erased through “unlimited access to yummy food”.
“Implementing that diet reversed their anxiety … it took an animal back to the non-stressed state,” Morris told Australian Associated Press.
“We really don’t know why that happens, but there seems to be a biochemical link.”
The research started with different groups of baby rats – one group grew up with normal contact with their mothers, while the other group had lengthy periods of separation.
Rats with a more traumatic early life were found to have higher levels of stress hormones and fewer steroid receptors in the part of the brain which controls behavior.
The signals for “anxiety and depression” eventually disappeared among those rats who were later switched to the all-you-can-eat junk food diet.
“The control group had no effect from the diet really, but the stressed animals had a deficit … which was restored by the diet.”
Morris cautioned while the results were not immediately transferable to people, it did show support “the therapeutic value of comfort food” and hint at explanations for other patterns of human behavior.
“If you ask people what they eat when they are stressed, they eat more chocolate, cakes and sweets, and less fish, vegetables and fruit,” she said.
Souce: China View, 24 November2009, http://news.xinhuanet.com/english/2009-11/24/content_12530754.htm