Thursday, November 10, 2005

You Do What You Eat

Despite my extensive training in nutrition (2 big classes at Cal State University, Northridge), I usually hesitate to use this blog to delve into the world of vitamins and minerals. I proceed to eat whatever I feel like and ignore the dietary consequences. I figure "I'm a vegetarian - what more do you want from me?

But this article I found on Alternet.org relating behavior to nutrition was so amazing that I felt I simply must post an excerpt and a link:

You Do What You Eat
by Marco Visscher
Bernard Gesch, physiologist at the University of Oxford, decided to test the anecdotal clues in the most thorough study so far in this field. In a prison for men between the ages of 18 and 21 in England's Buckinghamshire, 231 volunteers were divided into two groups: One was given nutrition supplements along with their meals that contained our approximate daily needs for vitamins, minerals and fatty acids; the other group got placebos. Neither the prisoners, nor the guards, nor the researchers at the prison knew who took fake supplements and who got the real thing.

The researchers then tallied the number of times the participants violated prison rules, and compared it to the same data that had been collected in the months leading up to the nutrition study. The prisoners given supplements for four consecutive months committed an average of 26 percent fewer violations compared to the preceding period. Those given placebos showed no marked change in behaviour. For serious breaches of conduct, particularly the use of violence, the number of violations decreased 37 percent for the men given nutrition supplements, while the placebo group showed no change.
The experiment was carefully constructed, ruling out the possibility that ethnic, social, psychological or other variables could affect the outcome. Prisons are popular places to conduct studies for good reason: There is a strict routine; participants sleep and exercise the same number of hours every day and eat the same things at the same time.


Fascinating to consider, no?

5 comments:

holly said...

That is incredible. I hate taking vitamins and have 101 excuses for why I won't take them. They smell, they are large and hard to swallow, Flintstone vitamins taste yucky, etc. However, if the results of taking them are really this remarkable, I really should reconsider my vitamin aversion.

Alanna said...

Not everyone is averse to a knowledgeable person writing occasionally about nutrition ... I for one hope to see more!

lisaSD said...

Wow! My chiropractor has been telling me that just taking vitamins isn't enough...it has to be the right kind...he says most of the vitamins on the shelves are made from petroleum (?) or something like that, so that they're really not good for us. Conveniently, he has some "natural" vitamins for sale at his office. Well, yes, I fell for it, but I have to say that since I started taking his vitamin B, my life changed. Yep. As a vegetarian, perhaps I was a bit deficient? I don't know, but I swear by them now. Of course, the ingredients are, sadly, animal-derived...

cookiecrumb said...

OMG. I'm a real vitamin slacker. It should be so easy, but somehow I...
Oh.
darn.
Still, very compelling.

Evil Fruit Lord said...

Petroleum vitamins?