ABC News Medical Unit
March 5, 2008
Certain Foods May Have Direct Impact on Emotional State
Food, glorious food!
Even in the dingy back-alley orphanage of Dickensian London, this refrain from the opening song of the musical “Oliver!” has the power to lift the hungry and penniless orphans from their depression into ecstatic song.
But even for the rest of us, food can often change our frame of mind.
“Food really does have a lot of power,” said Bonnie Taub-Dix, a registered dietician and spokesperson for the American Dietetic Association. “Use it properly and have a well-balanced diet and you really can improve your mood.”
Studies have shown that some foods, like turkey, whole grain breads, and sugary snacks, have definite effects on the brain, raising and lowering mood-altering chemicals.
“Not only does your food affect your mood, your mood affects the food you’ll choose,” Taub-Dix said. “Unfortunately, the average consumer isn’t eating a healthy enough diet, let alone a diet that will put them in a good mood.”
According to the National Institutes of Health, 20.9 million Americans suffer from mood disorders and 14.8 million experience depression. These rising rates of depression and other mood disorders parallels the rise of obesity in the U.S.
Since the mid-1970s, the prevalence of overweight and obese people, aged 20-74, increased from 15 percent to 32.9 percent, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. More than one-third of U.S. adults — over 72 million people — were obese in 2005.
Though no studies show that mood disorders and increased obesity are directly related, many agree that there is some correlation.