Spicy food can trigger aggression

MALAYSIANS’ love for their spicy sambal belacan coupled with higher temperatures could cause a rise in aggressive behaviour.

This is one reason why the Health Ministry closely monitors prisoners’ food nutrition and intake, psychologist and criminologist Dr Geshina Ayu Mat Saat says, pointing out that their diet is “pretty bland”.

“A person’s diet influences aggression. Less chillies and spices make for less violent inmates.

“Our prisons also do not provide carbonated drinks to violent criminals as it increases the likelihood of violence if consumed when agitated, irritable or angry,” she says, adding that the aggressive behavioural syndrome is marked by restlessness, irritability, impulsiveness and a proneness to violence.

Not having enough fish, vegetables and fruits in the weekly diet may trigger aggression as the body does not have the correct and necessary nutrients to function normally, she says.

Alternative medical practitioner Dr Gurdial Singh Sandhu agrees.

He says hot and spicy foods and high consumption of sodium chloride, acid and mucous-forming foods leads one to become hot-tempered and aggressive.

“Road bullies, hooligans, gangsters and drunkards who have consumed hot, spicy food or one that’s high in sodium chloride will find their blood pressure levels rising.

“If they are carrying weapons like guns, pistols or revolvers, they won’t hesitate to use them because their body chemistry is out of balance.

“An acidic body is one that’s aggressive and hot-tempered,” he says, adding that hot atmospheric temperatures and radiation are among the other causes of irritability and aggressiveness.

Chinese traditional medicine specialist and health columnist Dr Ellycia Tan Pin Ting sums it up as “we are what we eat”.

“Hot and spicy food are yang and can make a person aggressive, hyperactive, hot-tempered and agitated,” she says, adding that deficiencies in nutrients, magnesium, Vitamin C and B may also cause someone to have a shorter fuse.