The Therapeutic Properties of Pizza
October 27th, 2021
Picture this: there is rising hostility between two nations and their representatives organize a meeting to discuss their issues. The fate of millions of people depends on the outcome of this reunion. As tension grows between the politicians, a delivery guy walks into the room with a hot cardboard box. Did someone order pizza delivery near me? Time stops and all problems are forgotten as the smell of caramelized tomatoes spreads across the room. Everybody takes a break to share a delicious pie covered in melting cheese. Hints of smiles can be perceived through the layers of political stiffness and tomato sauce covering the faces of those present. By the time the last pizza slice is finished, the general mood is heightened and the threat of an imminent war is dissipated. Well, perhaps the scenario proposed is too airy-fairy. But there is a level of truth in the idea that pizza has the potential to make the world a better place.
First, carbohydrates are essential for the release of serotonin in the body, a neurotransmitter that elevates mood, and dopamine, which helps us feel pleasure. Carbs are found in several vegetables, grains and dairy products. Pizza’s wheat-based dough alone is loaded with complex carbohydrates in the form of starch. Complex carbohydrates take longer to metabolize, giving the body time to use them more efficiently than with simple sugars. As Dr. Judith Wurtman explains in an article for the Huffington Post, the only way our nervous system can produce serotonin is when an amino acid called tryptophan reaches the brain. And this can only happen when tryptophan is synthesized by complex carbohydrates. Dr. Wurtman explains how anger, impulsive behavior, confusion and other symptoms that can easily lead to conflict between individuals are linked to insufficient serotonin activity.
Cheese, another ingredient abundant in any good pizza delivery near me, also acts as medicine to the brain promoting happiness and well-being. Cheese contains high levels of tyrosine, an amino acid that produces brain chemicals that improve mood, and casein, which induces the release of endogenous opioids in the brain. There are receptors for the tyrosine molecule in our olfactory tract, meaning that even the smell of cheese can trigger positive feelings. A social experiment measured the effects of pizza on the moods of a group of people at a party. The study identified the highest observable increase in joy when the smell of pizza permeated the room. In fact, the smell of pizza not only can uplift your mood but it can also help reduce symptoms of anxiety. Mind Springs Health suggests that smelling an imaginary pizza as a breathing exercise can help calm the brain.
The ability of pizza to replace grumpy faces with cheerful ones goes even further. A study conducted by psychologists at St. Bonaventure University in New York found that even drawing pizza can boost the mood. Yes, after comparing the results between people drawing peppers with others drawing pizza, researchers concluded that there was an evident mood change in the second case, most likely due to the type of food participants were drawing. Drawing a pizza not only triggers the fond memories of this delicious comfort food, but it is also in its structure that it is a pleasant activity. Throughout the years, many researchers on human perception have linked circular shapes to evoking gentle, peaceful emotions. Thus pizza could be compared to an appetizing mandala that stimulates warm, positive feelings.
Thus far we have discussed the amazing benefits of pizza at an individual level. Going back to our initial hypothetic situation, we have already explained why introducing the idea of pizza between two stressed world leaders could elevate their spirits. The contented state of each subject after consuming or even just thinking of pizza may influence the result of their political argument. That may sound too dreamy, but there is no proof of whether this strategy has actually ever been tested. To further support the idea, there is research suggesting that people feel closer to others when they share food. In a conversation with NPR Morning Edition, social science correspondent Shankar Vedantam talks about some studies carried out at the University of Chicago. The studies found a correlation between the speed in which people can reach an agreement and the type of food they were eating while undergoing negotiations. They concluded that food can shape behaviors, and in particular promote trust and cooperation between people eating the same kind of food. I rest my case.
Perhaps it is too far-stretched to assume that international conflict can be solved with pizza. But there is solid and diverse evidence showing that America’s favorite dish has a positive impact on individuals and their interactions with others. A suggestion is that each person conducts their own research. Gather a group of friends, search for pizza places in Detroit and take them all to Amicci’s to discuss a controversial topic. Even if you do not reach an agreement about the disputed affair, the general consensus will surely be that Amicci’s mouth-watering pizza is delicious.