Gastrophysics: How can effect diet and health in the future?

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The science on nutrition and healthy living advances each day. Recently, it has been shown that our relationship with the food is not influenced only by the energy or nutritional elements of the food but also the psychosocial condition and our senses play an important role and it is also associated with the biology of pleasure. It is also reported that sensations created by the food and environmental factors are processed in the brain and central nerve system; therefore, the consumption of certain food gives us more pleasure. Recently, there is a new concept discussed by the scientific circles: gastrophysics. Charles Spence, Professor of Experimental Psychology at Oxford University who is one of the pioneers about studies on gastrophysics, shared the current data on this subject for the first time in Turkey during the 4th Nutrition and Healthy Live Styles Summit hosted by Sabri Ulker Foundation. Stating that everybody has an unforgettable eating experience, Prof. Spence underlines that not only food but sensations experienced while eating and flavours can also make it special. In addition, Spence suggests that developments in gastrophysics may play a role in tackle with problems such as obesity and malnutrition, in the future.

What is the definition of Gastrophysics?

The term gastrophysics is a combination of gastronomy that is the science of food and psychophysics that studies the perception and sensations created with the stimulant effect. Gastrophysics represent that an enjoyable meal can be explained not only by flavour but also various other factors such as environmental and sensory factors.

What is the association between the concept of gastrophysics and food consumption?

An enjoyable meal is affected by food as well as other factors such as our mood, in other words, our psychological condition, persons who share the meal with us, the ambience, cutlery, tableware, service and presentation. This is also supported by the results of a study conducted on elderly people who are treated as inpatients at a hospital. In this research that studied the relationship between the colour of materials used to serve food to patients, and the pleasure of eating, it has been shown that using blue plates instead of white plates increased the amount of food eaten by patients. If these results are taken into consideration, the idea of benefiting from gastrophysics studies in connection with food consumption and malnutrition or inadequate and unbalanced diet would be accepted as a new approach in the world of food science.

What is the association gastrophysics and prevention of obesity?

The rate of obesity is increasing all over the world. Excessive eating and the lack of physical activity are shown as the common causes of obesity. Particularly the press publishes extensive information on the reasons of the increase in food consumption. Do we eat more while watching the TV? Do bigger plates lead to obesity? Can be shown as examples of these claims. Prof. Spence reports that gastrophysics studies can help determining and correcting the factors that would cause excessive eating and support adequate and balanced diet.

What should be taken into consideration while eating based on the results of gastrophysics studies?

Small plates with narrow edges are used, thus your plate would look fuller and this may prevent the excessive eating. You can avoid eating in front of the screen, eating in front of the TV, telephone or table may accelerate the food consumption and prevent the portion control. You can control your consumption rate and portion size by avoiding distracting objects that may be present around you while eating. You can use your senses, nutrition is not limited to chewing and digesting; we naturally use our sensory organs while eating. For example, the aroma of coffee is the most important part of the pleasure we have while drinking coffee.

Conclusion and recommendations

The association between the principles of gastrophysics that is a new scientific approach, and food consumption; thus, obesity, malnutrition and chronic diseases that may develop as a result of them is an object of curiosity; on the other hand, adequate and balanced diet and physical activity are essential for protecting the health. It is important to consume each nutrient group adequately and pay attention to the diversity in diet in order to meet the daily energy need. Exercising 150 minutes in total at least 3 times a week lays the foundations of an active life. Studies in gastrophysics provides new data on the psychosocial dimension of the diet in the future; thus, it may contribute to the adequate and balanced diet through improvements.

1. Alastair J. Tulloch, Susan Murray, Regina Vaicekonyte, Nicole M. Avena. Neural responses to macronutrients: hedonic and homeostatic mechanisms. Gastroenterology. 2015 May; 148(6): 1205–1218. 2.Robinson E, Blissett J, Higgs S. Social influences on eating: implications for nutritional interventions. Nutr Res Rev. 2013 Dec; 26(2): 166–176
3. Gastrophysics, the New Science of Eating, Prof. Charles Spence, 2017.
4. Lau, Esther. More than what meets the mouth and nose. The Lancet Gastroenterology & Hepatology , Volume 2 , Issue 6 , 397

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