Do we unconsciously eat what our bodies need?
Health

Do we unconsciously eat what our bodies need?

What if your craving for a particular food is a reflection of a lack of vitamins or minerals? For example, if you dreamed of tasting a banana, is this a sign that your body lacks magnesium? Could your craving for spinach or lentils be linked to iron deficiency?

In the 1930s, a scientist named Clara Davis researched this amazing phenomenon, also known as “nutritional intelligence.” A group of young children who could not have healthy food at home were asked to choose freely from more than thirty types of foods. consequences? “Children instinctively choose a nutrient-dense diet”BBC says.

Over time, however, the conclusions reached by Clara Davis in her research work have been questioned by the scientific community. “We don’t really know what happened during this study.”Jeff Bronstrom, Professor of Experimental Psychology at the University of Bristol explains. “Maybe the kids were just exposed to a whole bunch of healthy foods and that was enough.”

Also, when Jeff Bronstrom met journalist and author Mark Schatzker in 2017 during a conference “The remarkable ability of various wild and domesticated species to respond to micronutrient deficiencies by adjusting their diet accordingly”And the piques his curiosity. Above all, the journalist believes that this phenomenon can also be observed in humans. Despite his skepticism, Bronstrom then suggested that Schatzker test his theory during a scientific study.

Preliminary results

“We showed the participants pictures of fruits and vegetables with different combinations and then asked them to choose which group they would choose.”describes Jeff Bronstrom. “To my surprise, our first study showed [que les participants choisissaient la meilleure option en termes de micronutriments]. It’s a small effect, but it’s a reliable one.”

This is not all. In another study published April 30, 2022 in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, also involving Bronstrom, researchers used pre-existing data from twenty people who were asked to choose from a selection of daily meals containing different calorie intakes for four weeks. None of these people were on a diet.

“For years we have thought that humans unconsciously consume energy-rich meals”comments by Annika Flynn, co-author of the study published April 30, 2022. “Remarkably, this study indicates a degree of nutritional intelligence, by which humans can adjust the amount they consume when choosing energy-dense options.”

But in the case of “nutritional intelligence,” how do you explain that people have a specific nutritional deficiency that they can remedy? Similarly, why do some countries face rising rates of obesity if humans have an “innate nutritional intelligence”? For the researchers, many questions remain unanswered at the moment, but they hope their work will pave the way for further studies.

“The next set of questions should focus on the effect of this phenomenon on individual differences in health.”Brunstrom argues. We know that some people are more likely than others to develop malnutrition and obesity. So what role does nutritional intelligence play, and can we understand how these interactions predispose us to over- or under-consumption? It’s also an exciting area.”


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