Y’know that old adage “You are what you eat”? Turns out your diet may affect how you think and act, too. According to information published in the October 2013 issue of Psychological Science, something in the food you eat might change the way you view and interact with other people.
The “something” we have in mind: Tryptophan, an essential amino acid, which is (incorrectly) assumed to make us feel sleepy after a big Thanksgiving dinner. According to research out of the University of Leden in the Netherlands, tryptophan can promote interpersonal trust.
In the study, researchers gave two groups of people orange juice, the control group with a placebo powder and the experimental group with tryptophan.
After consuming their respective beverages, the groups participated in a “trust game.” People in both groups were designated “trustors” and were given five Euros to give to a “trustee,” who had drunk nothing. The more money they gave to the trustee, the more money they stood to earn—but only if the trustee gave them an adequate amount of money back. The researchers said the amount of money passed from the trustors to the trustees was a measure of interpersonal trust.
The results? The trustors who consumed the tryptophan gave “significantly more money” to their trustees than the control group. In a press release, Lorenza Colzato, lead researcher, was quoted as saying, “These results support the idea that the food one eats has a bearing on one’s state of mind. In particular, the intake of tryptophan may promote interpersonal trust in inexpensive, efficient and healthy ways.”
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How You Can Use Tryptophan
Next time you plan a team dinner, include foods high in tryptophan to promote trust among your teammates. Colzato says you need to eat .9 grams of the stuff for the effects to take hold. That would equate to:
- 330 grams of salmon
- 400 grams of shrimp
- 300 grams of chicken
- 150 grams of Parmesan cheese
- 250 grams of cheddar cheese
If you’re not interested in consuming extra calories, you can purchase a tryptophan supplement.
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