Ever wondered why you find it hard to keep your temper under control when you haven’t eaten for a while?
According to researchers at Cambridge University, when the body starts to feel hungry, levels of the brain chemical serotonin, dip, causing a whirlwind of uncontrollable emotions including anxiety, stress and anger.
These fluctuating serotonin levels affect the brain regions that enable people to regulate anger, making us prone to aggression when hungry.
The findings were discovered after researchers altered the volunteers’ diet, feeding them foods that affected the levels of serotonin, such as essential amino acid tryptophan, and then taking it away from their diet to monitor the change.
Their brain reactions were then scanned after they viewed angry, sad and neutral facial expressions. The results showed that those with low serotonin levels communicated with the amygdala (the system that controls emotion in the brain).
The researchers behind the study, which was recently published in the Biological Psychiatry Journal, hope that the results will help diagnose other psychiatric conditions.
“We are hopeful that our research will lead to improved diagnostics as well as better treatments for this and other conditions,” says researcher Luca Passamonti.
If you’re worried about your serotonin levels dropping, make sure you stock up on foods which boost your serotonin intake, such as pumpkin seeds, walnuts, avocado, dates, bananas and rolled oats.
Keeping the hunger pangs at bay can be difficult, so check out these top 10 tips from Slimming World nutritionist Dr Jacquie Lavin on how to keep your serotonin levels high and feel fuller longer.