When we’re hungry, we are apt to think that grabbing some quick food will ease our low blood-sugar and turn our hangry appetite into a satisfied one. But there is a nasty side-effect to your drive-through urge.
Business Insider took a spin through a forthcoming book called The Happiness Diet and, according to author and mental health advocate Rachel Kelly, our gut produces about 90% of our serotonin, the chemical responsible for making us feel good. And, in a nutshell, fast-food hampers its production. According to Kelly, fast-food, salty snacks and margarine are just some of the foods to avoid for the sake of everyone around you.
If you didn’t already know, french fries are drenched in trans fats, which not only increases the risk of heart disease, it creates and imbalance of healthy omega-3 fat. And that, in turn, creates feelings of sadness, pessimism and aggression.
According to the study:
In a study of 106 healthy volunteers, researchers found that participants who had lower blood levels of omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids were more likely to report mild or moderate symptoms of depression, a more negative outlook and be more impulsive. Conversely, those with higher blood levels of omega-3s were found to be more agreeable.
“A number of previous studies have linked low levels of omega-3 to clinically significant conditions such as major depressive disorder, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, substance abuse and attention deficit disorder,” said Sarah Conklin, Ph.D., a postdoctoral scholar with the Cardiovascular Behavioral Medicine Program at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine. “However, few studies have shown that these relationships also occur in healthy adults.”
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Soft drinks, which often accompany a burger and fries, is no better — even the diet variety. The artificial sweetener found in diet cola (aspartame) contains something called phenylalanine, which, according to the National Institutes of Health, has the power to mess up our levels of serotonin (a neurotransmitter that influences mood, among other things), which means you should probably opt for something more natural to drink.
Kelly says cereal and snack bars are also not a great choice, especially the ones with high sugar content. So when you’re in the grocery aisle, make sure to chose labels that have 8 grams of sugar or less. As we all know, sugar highs are followed by sugar lows. And when that happens, we get stressed and moody.
Head to Business Insider to see more of the foods Kelly recommends you avoid.