- Eat chocolate, get healthy
- Feeling tired, run down, under the weather?
Scientists have come up with the answer - a good dose of chocolate.
- Researchers have discovered that physical
and emotional enjoyment, even in small doses, can enhance immune function
for hours afterwards.
- They believe that life's small pleasures
may have a cumulative effect in boosting the immune system over a long
- And how did they test their theories?
By subjecting people to the smell of chocolate.
- The research was carried out by ARISE
(Associates for Research Into the Science of Enjoyment) an international
group of scientists and academics from the fields of physiology, psychology,
psychopharmacology and sociology.
- Two separate studies measured how much
of an antibody, secretory Immunoglobulin-A (sigA), was produced when people
had pleasant and unpleasant experiences.
- SigA, found in the saliva, protects against
- The first study examined how the immune
system responds to happy and guilty memories. Happy thoughts showed a marked
improvement in mood and clearly increased immune response, while guilty
ones were shown to undermine it.
- The amount of SigA secreted doubled 20
minutes after happy thoughts and grew further after 45 minutes. Even three
hours later the immunity level was 60% higher than when the experiment
- The second study showed that unpleasant
odours, such as rotting meat, reduce the amount of SigA that is produced
- potentially weakening resistance to disease.
- Conversely, pleasant smells, such as
chocolate, may stimulate SigA production, enhanching immune protection.
- The research also found significant differences
in the way men and women react to odours.
- Women were more likely to be disturbed
or soothed by the different odours, but the actual impact on their immune
system was weaker than in men.
- Listen to your body
- Professor David Warburton, found of ARISE
and head of psychopharmacology at Reading University, said: "Previous
scientific experiments have observed a correlation between changing moods
and the immunity system, but these new studies provide a direct causal
link. Identifying this direct link proves that happiness could make you
- "Instead of worrying about the often
ill-founded health scares created by so-called health experts most people
would do better to listen to their bodies.
- "These studies illustrate how our
bodies naturally seek to protect themselves from disease by doing the things
- Professor Warburton said two other new
studies had showed that the body has some self-regulating systems to ensure
that people do not take pleasures to excess.
- In one study people were asked to eat
"special" food such as chocolate on a regular basis. It was found
that their appetite for the special foods diminished with regular exposure,
while their appetite for staples such as bread and butter remained constant.
- The final study found that brain receptors
activated by sweet tastes become less sensitive with repeated exposure.
- Professor Warburton said: "Rather
than worrying about whether or not you should be indulging in the things
you enjoy doing, it is probably healthier just to get on with them, albeit