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Natural Compounds In Foods And Spices Impact Brain Activity And Mood

October 17, 2010: 06:43 AM EST

Natural compounds from various foods and spices can act like drugs, firing up different parts of the brain to release chemicals like dopamine and serotonin that induce feelings of happiness, according to a new book that discusses the effects of foods and spices on human behavior and brain functions. Chemicals also support brain activity and stave off aging of the brain. For example, author Gary Wenk traces the Aztecs’ fondness for human sacrifice to their low-tryptophan corn-based diet – critical to serotonin production and positive feelings. Sugar, often avoided due to its negative effects on the body, is actually necessary for strong brain functioning. Spices, too, affect brain function and mood: nutmeg, saffron, fennel, dill, cinnamon, and anise are chemically similar to mescaline. Large amounts can actually provoke feelings of euphoria.

HEATHER HADDON, "This is your brain on food", NY Post, October 17, 2010, © NYP Holdings, Inc.
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