Chill Out, Ladies. Stress Can Erase The Benefits Of Your Healthful Diet

By Melissa Healy
Los Angeles Times

WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) A new study in the journal Molecular Psychiatry helps illuminate the complex interactions between what we eat, how we live and whether we develop chronic diseases such as diabetes, heart disease or depression. Bottom line-STRESS CAN BE VERY POWERFUL.

Los Angeles Times

Life sometimes foils the best of our intentions.

New research on women, stress and diet amply illustrates that sad fact. It shows that even when women greeted a new day with a “better-for-you” fast-food breakfast, that meal’s expected health-promoting qualities were washed away by the carry-over effects of yesterday’s stresses.

For women who reported experiencing no stress on the day before they showed up to participate in a study, eating a breakfast formulated with healthy fats paid handsome dividends: Compared with women who got a breakfast larded with saturated fat, after eating, these women saw no jump in several markers of inflammation, measures that are strongly linked to a wide range of diseases.

But suffering a day of stresses, serious financial worries, a child’s health scare, the need to be in two places at one time, erased the difference between women who got healthy fats and those who got fats more commonly linked to heart disease.

Those findings, reported Tuesday in the journal Molecular Psychiatry, help illuminate the complex interactions between what we eat, how we live and whether we develop chronic diseases such as diabetes, heart disease or depression. At the core of this nexus is inflammation, a normal, healthy immune response when it’s in check; a harbinger of trouble when it’s chronically out of control.

By promoting clotting and the aggregation of other potential trouble-makers in the bloodstream, inflammation is widely seen as a risk factor for cardiovascular disease, metabolic dysfunctions, certain cancers and brain disorders ranging from depression to dementia. Though its exact role in such diseases is unclear, “it is not an innocent bystander,” said Janice Kiecolt-Glaser, director of Ohio State University’s Institute for Behavioral Medicine Research and the study’s lead author.

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