There is a link between diet and antisocial behaviour, commonly shown in expressed aggression. The National Institutes of Health scientists has found that hostile, aggressive men often have low blood levels of DHA (Docosahexaenoic acid) and Eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), omega-3 fatty acids. The study shows in part a connection with anger and aggression and nutritional deficiencies of omega-3.
Is Diet and Aggression Link?
Some biochemists believe that western society has undergone dramatic shifts in their diet. As a result, there is a shift in the consumption of essential oils such as omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids. What they have observed is a decrease in the consumption of omega-3 and an increase in omega-6 fatty acids, mainly found in industrial oils such as soya, corn, and sunflower. As omega-6 fatty acids consumption increases, so do homicides and depression.
Studies Prove Diet and Aggression Link
As a result, a number of studies have confirmed behaviour improvements among prison populations and reduced aggression among children and substance abusers through change in diet, more so by adding supplements of fish oil in their diet. Fish oil contains one of the main omega-3 fats found in the oil.
Industrial societies that have maintained a high consumptions of omega-3 and low omega-6 have been able to maintain a low rate of murder and depression. This correlation is quite striking and deserves some recognition, even as critics state that the evidence is quite sketchy.
The brain, a fatty organ, is composed of 60% fat. DHA and EPA helps the brain send signals between nerve cells more efficiently. Communication between the nerve cells in the brain depend on neurotransmitters, such as serotonin and dopamine, which regulates emotional responses and controls impulses.
The UK prison study and NIH studies agree that there is evidence for the benefits from fish oil in the diet. However, they also suggest that eating fish, such as salmon, mackerel, herring, and tunna, would be better, for it would come with the necessary vitamins and minerals to help metabolize the DHA. Minerals such as zinc and the B vitamins are needed to metabolize essential fats.
Mercury Levels of Fish
Needless to say, there are some concerns. The added risk of increased consumption of mercury with fish is another issue for many, particularly with children with developmental problems. If you are one of those concerned, you can view a list of mercury levels in various types of fish here.
This study leaves us to think about our diet and how it may be affecting our temperament. It definitely encourages us to make sure our meals are more balances and wholesome, especially if we want our society to be healthy and productive.
NOTE: The study merely suggest a factor towards criminal behaviour, and in no way does it state that people in a lower socio-economic group are more likely to be violent. It simply focuses on diet and aggression.
Articles in this series:
That disturbing emotion called Anger
Is there such a thing as healthy anger
Do I have anger issues
Simple anger test
Facial displays of anger
Linking diet and antisocial behaviour
Methods and techniques of Anger Management
What is anger management
Quenching anger before it becomes destructive
Coping with the roadblocks of life
What triggers your anger bug
Teaching children anger management skills
When others are mad at you
"Stop anger, be happy"
"A Poison Tree" by William Blake