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NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Can food fuel irritability, anxiety and even aggression?
As CBS 2’s Kristine Johnson reported, experts say yes. And Robin Flamer knows all about it.
“I’m constantly thinking about how I can get my revenge — scolding somebody or bawling somebody out,” she said.
Flamer said she is angry all the time. And she believes it is related to what she is eating.
“I’ve always had issues with anger — containing or suppressing anger,” Flamer said.
Jeff Resnick gets angry too, and he even knows what foods set him off.
“I can get irritable absolutely when I’ve had too much of the carbs,” he said.
Nutritionist Nicolette Pace said Flamer and Resnick are on to something.
“They make you feel good immediately, but they don’t give your body what you need to cope with day to day stresses,” she said.
Pace said there is indeed a connection between anger and food, and a poor diet can trigger our tempers.
“Deficiencies in nutrients — magnesium or manganese, vitamin C or some B vitamins — may make a person hyperactive towards a stress — a short fuse, so to speak,” Pace said.
Dr. Drew Ramsey, a psychiatrist at Columbia University, said it is all about the brain. Without vitamins or nutrients, the body cannot make brain chemicals such as serotonin, which are necessary for clear thinking and good mood.
“The gears of the brain just don’t run as well, so you’re going to feel more irritable,” he said.
Deficiencies in these nutrients have been correlated strongly with increases in aggressive behavior and even violent acts.
To test the theory, Oxford University researchers gave vitamin supplements to criminals while they were locked up. They found it led to less aggressive behavior.
“I think it does demonstrate there is something to nutrient deficiencies giving people a propensity towards violence,” Ramsey said.
So how do you apply this to your daily life? Experts advise avoiding processed and packaged foods, and make sure to eat more fish, eggs, beans, lentils and green leafy vegetables such as kale.
“There was just a great study linking the amount of vegetables and fruits people eat to their likelihood of feeling optimistic and happy,” Ramsey said.
“You’ll see that you have the ability to cope — producing less aggression to stressful situations,” Pace added.
Flamer’s diet is still a work in progress. But Resnick said changing what he eats has improved his health and mood.
“It’s been a whole new life for me in many ways,” he said. “It feels absolutely great.”
Some researchers are exploring a possible connection between poor diet and the rise of bullying in schools.
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