The placebo effect of food is a new subject of research. Scientists recognize that food can be a health or disease factor . While what we eat affects how we feel or feel pain, the truth is that our fantasies also affect it.
There are products that people talk about as if they were magical. There are talk of certain specific effects that affect a specific area of health for the entire body or a specific organ. Hence, these products appear to work for some people.
These miraculous or only partially helpful effects led us to talk about the placebo effect of food. Could it be that food can have the same effect as placebo medications? Let’s see.
Placebo effect of food
We have known about the effects of placebo since 1800, thanks to the British doctor John Haygarth. Since then, specialists have been using it systematically. It is used both for testing new drugs and during therapy.
The effect of this occurs when a person takes a pill thinking it is a drug. However, it is not a therapeutic measure, even if the patient sees improvement in himself.
We now know that an expensive placebo is more effective than a cheap placebo. Even if it is a sugar pill, it will be more effective if it is more expensive. Likewise, scientists found that red pills performed better than blue pills.
For a long time, people believed that the placebo effect was the result of suggestion or “false medicine”. However, recent studies, carried out with the help of modern tools, show that placebo really does generate positive changes in the brain. Additionally, it supports the patients’ recovery.
Placebo food effect – studies
The placebo effect of food is the newest area of research. One of the pioneers in this field is Dr. Alia Crum, a clinical psychologist and researcher at Columbia Business School. One of her most famous experiments concerns caloric intake.
A group of volunteers were told that they would drink a milkshake that contains 640 calories. Another group was informed that the drink contains 140 calories. Both shakes were the same, with 340 calories each. People who drank the drink thinking it was high in calories quickly felt full. The second group, on the other hand, began to feel hungry just as quickly.
Other similar studies have shown that people can even lose or gain weight in this situation. This shows that the placebo effect on food really exists. The belief that eating will have a certain effect affects people so much that it becomes a reality.
The strength of the placebo effect
Advances in research into the placebo effect in relation to food have shown fascinating results in recent years. One of the most interesting findings is that this effect is not purely psychological. In fact, it works on a biochemical and molecular level.
At one of the last world conferences on the placebo effect, held in Leiden, Germany, MRI images were shown . It has been shown that there are areas of the brain that activate after taking a sugar pill if the doctor suggests to the patient that it is a drug.
Kathryn T. Hall, a molecular biologist, along with Ted J. Kaptchuk, director of Placebo Studies at Harvard Medical School, are two of the most advanced scientists in the field. Their research shows that:
Effect on diet
We are still far from fully understanding the placebo effect. Typically, in experiments with drugs, placebo works in 1/3 of the volunteers. This means that the effect is really working. However, scientists still have a lot to discover.
When it comes to the placebo effect of food, this means that for humans, food is not just the sum of the substances consumed. Food has a symbolic meaning. Therefore, there are many different beliefs and emotions around him.
For the same reason, as Dr. Alia Crum shows, the effect that food has on our bodies largely depends on beliefs about certain foods. If we believe that something is going to hurt us, it probably will. This also works the other way around. Everything seems to indicate that food has a placebo effect.