Stress has been known for its bad effects on a person’s overall health and now scientists have found evidence that internally has well stress causes huge ups and downs – specifically its cancellation effect on the positive effects of ‘healthy fat’.
Researchers including Kiecolt-Glaser, lead author of the study set out to find out a relation between stress, diet and inflammatory markers. To that end they assigned women to two groups – one with high fat breakfast and the other with food with unsaturated fat. Specifically the groups were given food high in less-healthy saturated fat from palm oil while the other had food with healthier unsaturated fat from a sunflower oil high in oleic acid. During the study, the participants were asked to visit Ohio State on two different days and ate either of the two meals.
The researchers intentionally chose a high-calorie, high-fat meal to mimic a typical fast-food meal. Each breakfast contained 930 calories and 60 grams of fat, almost identical to the composition of a Big Mac and medium fries or a Burger King Double Whopper with cheese. The women were given 20 minutes to eat.
To determine women under stress, the researchers made use of Daily Inventory of Stressful Events questionnaire and asked participants about previous day’s experiences. To determine the stress, researchers included stressors such as having to clean up paint a child spilled all over the floor and struggling to help a parent with dementia who was resisting help.
Scientists found after analysis of questionnaire that thirty-one women had at least one recent stressor at one of the two visits; 21 had experienced stress before both visits and six of the women reported no significant stressful experiences prior to their visits.
Their blood was drawn multiple times during their visits. The researchers looked at two markers of inflammation – C-reactive protein and serum amyloid A. They also evaluated two markers called cell adhesion molecules that could predict a greater likelihood of plaque forming in the arteries.
All four unhealthy markers were higher following the saturated fat meal than the sunflower oil meal. The research team controlled for blood levels before the meals, age difference, abdominal fat and physical activity – all factors that could skew results.
In those women who had stressful days, the difference disappeared. Eating a breakfast with “bad fat” was just the same as eating one with “good fat.”