You might have noticed that pretty much every subject is infinitely more complicated than it appears at first glance. Maybe nothing proves this more than our relationship with food. As a kid, it’s just “If it tastes good, cram it into your mouth until Mom makes you stop.” The you get older and pay a little more attention, and you realize that you have to start reading labels. And if you pay even more attention, you realize that humanity’s relationship with what we eat is downright bizarre.
Food can and absolutely will affect you in plenty of other ways besides just filling your stomach. And it keeps getting weirder …
Common Food Ingredient Apparently Turns You Aggressive
Look, you already knew that margarine, the somehow less-healthy alternative to butter, wasn’t good for you. And as is the case with many processed products, margarine enjoys its share of wild-ass rumors and urban legends, from its supposedly appalling original color to the one about it being practically plastic. However, the stuff does have one peculiar side effect that is often overlooked: Margarine can turn you into a raging bag of cocks. Of course, we’re not being literal (we think). What we’re saying is that margarine increases your aggression.
Everyone knows that trans fats are linked to a multitude of health problems, and science has had a blast finding out all the ways they can mess us up. Recently, researchers have gotten curious about whether trans fats could affect our personality in the same way that they wreck our physical health. So they recruited nearly a thousand test subjects from all walks of life and studied their behavior, rating their levels of aggression and comparing it to their dTFA intake.
After adjusting for other possible factors like sex, age, and alcohol and drug abuse, researchers were left with some pretty condemning evidence: The consumption of dTFA has a significant effect on a person’s irritability and aggression levels.
Of course, the first question you should ask when hearing about this type of connection is “Are you saying that doughnuts make people aggressive, or that being a dick simply makes people hungry for doughnuts?” Well, the theory at this point is that these chemicals block your ability to create the beneficial omega-3 fatty acids your brain needs. So, if your roommate is acting like a moran throw out all of his snacks and replace them with celery sticks. That’ll cheer his ass right up!
Hot Drinks Actually Cool Your Body
You’re mowing the lawn on a hot summer day. The combination of heat, humidity, and uncharacteristic manual labor is drenching you in sweat, to the point that the crazy hobo living under your porch barely even throws his poop at you for fear of getting it dirty. Still, it’s a good day — all you need to make it perfect is a drink to cool you down. But should your thirst be quenched with lemonade? Beer? Perhaps iced water?
t sounds wrong to the point of triggering physical disgust to even think about, but those of you who have visited (or lived in) a really hot country — say, India — know that the people there have a tendency to drink hot tea. They know that that particular beverage cools them off far better than the coldest of cold drinks could, because they’re actually using the human body’s natural cooling process instead of working against it.
When you do the seemingly reasonable thing for a hot day and drink something chilled, the information the receptors in your mouth receive is: “Whoa, this shit is cold.” They pass this intel on to the brain, which in turn thinks that the cool sensation amounts to everything being nice and chilly in the outside environment and moves on to other, more pressing matters. But drink something hot, and your receptors rush up to Mama Brain to complain about the heat. The brain immediately responds by turning on the body’s built-in cooling mechanism: sweat.
Yes, drinking something hot will make you sweat more, but that’s what you want. The same principle works with spicy food, which goes a long way toward explaining why warmer areas enjoy their chili peppers.
Oh, and another thing: If you’re attempting to pull this off when you’re wearing clothes that won’t allow suitable evaporation, it won’t do you any good. So if you embrace the hot drink strategy at a relative’s wedding, prepare for an evening of shambling around in sweat-drenched formal wear while everyone else takes care to stand upwind. What we’re trying to say is that a proper cooling program requires a hot drink and a big dose of nudity.
The Sight of Meat Calms You Down (if You’re a Guy)
But, when researchers actually got around to testing this thesis, the results were … surprising. Where male dogs enter full-on drooling aggro mode upon seeing a delicious lump of carcass, human men actually calm down when they see meat.
To research this, scientists set up an intricate fake “multitasking” experiment where a bunch of guys had to observe an actor reading a script. Every time the reader made a mistake, they had to punish the guy (who just faked pain) with a sharp noise, the loudness and hurtitude of which depended entirely on the punisher’s whim. During this process, some of the men were shown neutral images, while others were subjected to pictures of delicious, delicious meat.
Imagine the researchers’ surprise when the guys who were most aggressive in doling out punishment were the ones who hadn’t been shown food porn. Meanwhile, the meat-viewing men remained cool and laid back in their actions.
It makes sense, if you think about it. After all, meat is what you get after the hunt is already over. So when a guy has meat in his field of vision, his brain knows that the prey has already been killed and there’s no call for murder instincts anymore. Therefore, it tells him to relax and enjoy the delicious spoils of the war he wrought against the animal kingdom.
Colored Chips Can Control Your Eating
Sometimes there’s nothing better than sinking into the couch to watch a good movie armed with a cold drink and a giant bag of chips. Of course, there’s only one way for such a scenario to end: Before long, your chips are all gone, even though you swear you never meant to eat them all. The entire potato chip industry is based on this “mindlessly eat until your hand punches through the bottom of the bag” behavior.
Thankfully, researchers have found a way to bring your accidental snack-binging under control … with food coloring. And it’s not what you think — we’re not talking about dyeing food some disgusting color so you don’t want it anymore, although that also works (that’s why your “dye all of the food green for St. Patrick’s Day” party failed). No, it turns out that mixing up the colors of the food makes it easier to keep track of how much we eat.
Researchers then asked both groups to estimate how much they’d eaten, and again, those who’d had their chips segmented with the red ones were much more successful than those with unaltered snacks.
The thing is, we all know that it’s best not to eat too much. Sometimes our brains just have a hard time determining when we’ve overeaten, because food has few tangible markers beyond “Yeah, there’s still some” and “Fuck, all gone now.” So the brain just sort of gives up and lets you go on with the automated eating sequence until the food is gone or you collapse. However, introduce the red chips into the equation as markers, and your brain is suddenly able to monitor exactly how much crap you’re shoving into your face — and send a stop signal when appropriate.
Alcohol Boosts Your Subconscious Memory
Everyone knows that alcohol and memory enjoy an inverse relationship: When your head is full of one, the other is notably absent. That’s kind of the point of the whole “drinking to forget” thing.
There’s a truth to it, of course — everyone knows that your pub quiz performance deteriorates to hell after a few beers, and a sufficiently thick vodka haze makes your home keys literally impossible to find. However, memory is a notoriously fickle bastard that operates on many levels. On the lowest of them all, we find none other but our subconscious. And according to scientists, alcohol and subconscious memory like to hook up and go to town.
It goes back to the basic chemistry that makes drinking enjoyable. The happy buzz you receive from drinking is achieved when the booze cheats your brain into releasing dopamine, the body’s very own “Fuck yeah!” hormone. The thing is, it doesn’t stop there. Although perfectly capable of giving you a sense of happiness, dopamine is at its core not a pleasure hormone — it’s a learning hormone. The more dopamine you have in your body, the more receptive you become to learning and remembering everything around you … at a subconscious level.
Your subconscious memory views the feel-good fix that dopamine delivers as a reward it gets from learning as much shit as it can. And boy, it can learn. When your conscious thoughts are drunkenly slurring obscenities at the dude who objected to your tabletop performance of the “Gangnam Style” dance, your subconscious memory is busy being acutely aware of its surroundings, forming all sorts of memory tricks and repeatable habits like no tomorrow.
Red Meat Makes You Smell Bad to Women
With the exception of ATV racing, nothing expresses humanity’s dominance over Mother Nature quite like taking a bite out of one of her beloved creatures. Red meat is full of muscle-building protein, meaning that when combined with exercise, eating meat gives you a totally ripped body that the ladies won’t be able to resist.
That is, unless those ladies place a high emphasis on not smelling like garbage. In a 2006 study, 17 men were put onto a two-week diet — one group consumed red meat, while the other did not. At the end of the two weeks, samples of their body odor were collected and presented to 30 women, who were made to take a whiff of each odor and assess it on its “pleasantness, attractiveness, masculinity and intensity,” though we can’t imagine a vial of man sweat doing anything but unequivocally failing those first two categories.
So far, there’s no medical explanation for why this occurs, although the popular theory is that undigested toxins in the meat get secreted through the pores of the skin. That either generates the meaty stink directly, or the odor is caused by bacteria that subsequently gather on the skin to feed on the secreted toxins.
Either way, this helps explain how white guys with dreadlocks get laid, despite totally sucking at that acoustic guitar they insist on playing at every party. Each missed shower builds up their natural, vegetarian body musk into a stink cloud that women find irresistible.
Sugar-Free Chewing Gum Can Cause Diarrhea
If you like having fresh breath and looking like you just don’t give a damn, odds are that you chew gum. Some dentists even recommend it, because it increases saliva production and promotes jaw exercise.
And if you get the sugar-free stuff, hell, what’s the downside? You don’t swallow it, so it’s like all of the benefits of candy with none of the getting fat. But you might have a problem in the opposite direction.
The culprit is a sweetener called sorbitol, a chemical that is found in many sugar-free gums, and one that is poorly absorbed by the intestines. Substances that can’t be absorbed tend to shoot right through. So what we’re saying is, sorbitol is a laxative. Don’t get us wrong, it’s fine in small amounts. But if you’re the type of person who always has to have gum in your mouth, and is always swapping it out for a fresh piece … don’t stray far from a toilet.
This was discovered when an article from the British Medical Journal presented cases of two patients who displayed some serious reverse-Captain America weight loss, done entirely by way of thundergut diarrhea explosion.
At first the doctors were baffled by the symptoms, but they soon discovered that the patients chewed 15 to 20 sticks of sorbitol-containing gum a day. When the patients were made to give it up, the symptoms stopped and they were able to healthily gain back the weight they had lost, though presumably not before garroting someone with Bubble Tape in a withdrawal-fueled haze.
Certain Fruits and Vegetables Give You a Sexy Tan
This is one of those things that you’d think only works in a cartoon. “Eat too many carrots, and you’ll turn orange!” But it happens. And it may help you get dates.
First, you need to learn what carotenoids are. They’re color pigments that can be found in several fruits and vegetables such as carrots, plums and cucumbers. They contribute to human skin color, giving it a yellowish tint. In excessive amounts, they can even cause yellow-orange discoloration of the skin. So they’re essentially a biological version of Cheeto dust, if Cheeto dust made you look vaguely jaundiced and/or anemic.
So, unless you have an extremely serious carrot-eating problem or are a cartoon rabbit, why should you care? Well, studies have shown that there is a noticeable connection between carotenoid coloration and how others see you. Specifically, how much they want to see you naked.
A series of studies by three U.K. scientists looked into the relationship between the pigments that affect skin color (melanin and carotenoid) and perceived appearance. The results showed a preference for light, yellow skin tone, with participants being more appreciative of carotenoid coloration than melanin coloration. They also expressed an unnatural fondness for Nick Stahl’s performance in Sin City.
The scientists conducting the studies concluded that carotenoid coloration is “a valid cue to human health which is perceptible in a way that is relevant to mate choice.” Basically, the yellow/orange tint is indicative of a healthy lifestyle, which portrays the person bearing said tint as a more desirable romantic companion. So if you’re continually failing with the opposite sex, theoretically it’s because you just aren’t orange enough.*
Grapefruit Can Mess With Your Medication
OK, maybe it’s not shocking that too much coffee and chemical-filled candy can mess with your system. But grapefruit?
Grapefruit is the hallmark of a healthy breakfast, damn it! It contains vitamin C and antioxidants, and it can help lower cholesterol. It seems like the only health problem related to the grapefruit would be if it were fired out of a cannon directly into your face.
Well, it turns out grapefruit blocks certain enzymesin the small intestine that break down medications. These enzymes normally regulate the amount of whatever drug you’ve consumed that gets absorbed into your body. If you take your medication (or “medication,” if your pharmacist wears a denim vest and answers to “Ratboy”) when you have grapefruit in your system, you get a much larger dose of the drug than you normally would.
As little as one glass of grapefruit juice can elicit the maximum blocking effect, which can often last for more than 24 hours. Grapefruit affects so many medications that there’s even a list of them on Wikipedia.
The effect can be hazardous and, yes, even fatal in some cases. If you do take medication, your best bet is to just cut grapefruit out of your diet completely.
Too Much Coffee Leads to Auditory Hallucinations
Coffee is an essential component of fast-paced modern life. It lets us work hard, play hard and go straight back to working hard without taking a break. If it weren’t for coffee, you’d actually have to accept your body’s physical limitations and rest for a while.
But despite its benefits, an Australian study suggests that over reliance on coffee’s stimulation can fuck with your brain in a pretty serious way. And by serious, we’re talking one of the symptoms of schizophrenia.
In the study, participants sat for three minutes and listened to white noise being played through headphones. They were told to listen for snippets of Bing Crosby’s rendition of “White Christmas,” and to press a button whenever they heard it. However, in a bold Shyamalan punch to the face, no part of the song was ever played. Goddamn, we’re starting to suspect being a scientist is a hilarious job.
Anyway, although the song was never played, participants who drank five or more cups of coffee a day were much more likely to thinkthat they’d heard it. Simon Crowe, the lead author of the study, said that high levels of stress and caffeine make people “more likely to ‘overreact’ to their environment — i.e., to hear things that just aren’t there.” So if you start to hear hearty renditions of Christmas carols in the middle of July, you might want to throttle back on the coffee.
Soy Can Lower Your Sperm Count
Soy is generally known as the food of choice for vegans/people who want every meal to be a miserable, tasteless experience, often using bizarre soy “meat” substitutes. But soy really is everywhere — if you’ve ever cooked with “vegetable oil,” there’s a good chancethat you’ve cooked with soy. Then you have Asian cuisine, where soy sauce is used so often it’s just sort of assumed to be present in every dish. And so on.
This was not a minor difference. Those who consumed the most soy food had an average of 41 million sperm/ml less than those who didn’t eat soy food at all. For perspective, the average sperm count is around 60 million sperm/ml, meaning significant soy intake could more than halve your collection of potential offspring.