I know a lot of people who swear by the Atkins diet and spend their days trying to avoid carbohydrates in any form. Many of them are also grumpy a lot of the time and now we know why. According to a study done by some folks at MIT, not eating carbohydrates stops the brain from regulating serotonin, which manages people’s mood and appetite. Antidepressant drugs like Prozac increase the serotonin production making people feel better and often suppressing their appetite. Since most of the people I work with are women (and almost none of the men are on diets!), this is also an interesting piece of data: "Women have much less serotonin in their brains than men, so a serotonin-depleting diet will make women feel irritable."
On another side of the diet issue, the House last week voted to ban lawsuits by people who claim that fast food made them fat. I hate to say that I agree with something this Congress has done, but this actually makes sense. Anyone who believes that McDonald’s sells healthy meals or that Taco Bell burritos (my personal guilty pleasure) are not fattening should be locked away as just plain too stupid to function in society. People need to pay attention to what they put in their bodies (are you paying attention smokers?) and accept the consequences of what they choose to eat and drink. It’s not like we don’t have a lot of choices when it comes to filling our faces.
Thanks to Boing, Boing for the Atkins link.