As we grow older, we learn to recognize that we humans have a rather complicated relationship with the food we eat and the drinks we consume. When we were children, it was simpler—we eat it if it tastes great. Then we got older, and those of us who also got smarter as well learned to read food labels to help with our dietary decisions.
But it’s still not cut and dried. Here are some examples of how what we eat and drink can affect in in unexpected ways.
- Alcohol boosts your subconscious memory. Many of us know that if we drink too much at night, we can wake up the next with no idea of what happened the night before. This can be embarrassing, when you learn just how badly you did at the karaoke bar. Or it can be downright horrifying, especially when you wake up naked beside your ugly sister-in-law.
But it’s a different matter when it comes to your subconscious. These are the memories that are deep inside your brain, and your subconscious influences your actions in ways you don’t recognize. According to some scientists, it’s this effect on the subconscious which may also contribute to alcohol addiction.
Part of what makes drinking alcohol so enjoyable is that it causes the release of dopamine, which is the “feel good” brain chemical. But dopamine is not primarily just a pleasure neurotransmitter. It’s designed to help you learn, at a subconscious level. You begin to form memories at a faster level.
Unfortunately, what you retain is just the subconscious memory of how good felt when you drank. And that’s one of the reasons why you can be addicted to alcohol.
- Coffee can lead to auditory hallucinations. Modern society is pretty much hooked on coffee, and today coffee is one of the most popular drinks around the world. We drink it because it keeps us alert, and it also tastes great. But if you drink too much coffee, you can hear things that aren’t there at all. And this is not a trivial matter—suffering from auditory hallucinations is one of the signs of schizophrenia.
So how much is too much? Studies suggest drinking 5 cups of coffee a day can lead to hearing sounds and voices. So if you hear someone whispering near you when you’re hard at work late at night, perhaps it’s time to cut back on the coffee.
- Eating red meat can make you smell bad. Lots of guys eat red meat. They don’t just taste great, but they’re also full of proteins which you can then use to build bigger muscles. While a ripped physique can look attractive, the resulting body odor may not be all that much of a hit with the ladies.
This was shown in one study where a group of men were fed a diet of red meat for 2 week, while another group had no red meat at all. At the end of the 2 weeks, samples of their body odor were collected, and a group of women rated the smells according to their intensity, masculinity, attractiveness, and pleasantness.
It turned out that the odors of the non-red meat group were consistently rated as more attractive of the two. The results were the same even when the groups of men switched diets a month later. The red meat group simply smelled less appealing.
Scientists are still trying to find the precise cause of this foul stench, although the leading hypothesis is that undigested toxins from the red meat may be secreted through the pores of the skin. Then either the toxins smell bad, or the bad smell may be caused by bacteria attracted to the skin to feed on the undigested toxins.
So if you seem to get a wince every time a lady hugs you, it may not be your cologne or how often you take a shower. You may just be eating too much red meat.
- Soy can lower your sperm count. Soy is big these days, but then again it’s always been a huge part of Asian cuisine. It’s the leading food item of the vegetarian-vegan movement, and even if you’re a regular meat-eater you still probably consume soy if you cook with vegetable oil.
In a Harvard study, however, it was found that there was a direct inverse relationship between soy food consumption and sperm concentration. In other words, the more soy you eat, the less sperm you have. And it wasn’t a minor difference either, because the men who consumed the most amounts of soy averaged 41 million sperm per ml less than those who didn’t eat any soy at all. And that’s a big deal, since the average sperm count is about 60 million sperm per ml.
It turned out that soy has a pro-estrogenic effect. It boosts the estrogen levels in your body, which in turn can lower your sperm count.