Benefits of a healthy diet may be negated by stress in women

Benefits of a healthy diet may be negated by stress in womenEveryone knows eating a healthy diet is good for our bodies, but women who are stressed may not reap the nutritional benefits of eating well. The study found that stressful events from the previous day may negate health benefits of a balanced nutritious meal.

Lead researcher Janice Kiecolt-Glaser said
, “They physiologically looked like they’d eaten the high saturated fat meal. Their advantage in eating the healthier meal disappeared.”

Saturated fats have been shown to trigger inflammation in the body, which contributes to heart disease, diabetes, arthritis, osteoporosis, and a slew of other conditions. Kiecolt-Glaser continued, “Inflammation is now looking like it’s associated with a lot of the nasty diseases of aging. It’s like a catalog of what you don’t want in your life.”


Saturated fats mainly come from animal sources such as meat and dairy.

A diet rich in unsaturated fat – like the Mediterranean diet, for example – have been shown to support a healthy heart. Unsaturated fats mainly come from plant sources.
Although this seems like a simple way to eat well, stress has been found to mess this up. Some studies have shown that a person’s metabolism is lower and insulin levels become higher after a day of stress.

The researchers looked at 58 health females who ate two separate but almost identical breakfasts on two different days.

Both breakfasts consisted of biscuits and gravy, and contained 930 calories and 60 grams of fat. The main difference was, one breakfast was made with saturated fat and the other with unsaturated fat.

The women completed interviews to uncover the stressful events they had the day prior.

Stress-free women tended to have better blood test results after they ate the monounsaturated fat biscuits and gravy, compared to when they ate the saturated fat-ridden breakfast.

These women also had lower levels of inflammation markers and tested lower for cell adhesion molecules which are indicative of the likelihood of plaque formation in the arteries.


According to these results, experiencing stress the day before the breakfast seemed to erase the benefits of monounsaturated fats these women consumed.

Kiecolt-Glaser added, “We expected we might see even greater adverse responses to the saturated fat meal, but we may have already maxed out… It may be when you overload the system that much, you may have a hard time seeing the real effects of stress.”

The study highlights the importance of not only following a healthy diet but also properly managing stress in order to receive the benefits ofeating healthy.

Author Bio

Emily Lunardo studied medical sociology at York University with a strong focus on the social determinants of health and mental illness. She is a registered Zumba instructor, as well as a Canfit Pro trainer, who teaches fitness classes on a weekly basis. Emily practices healthy habits in her own life as well as helps others with their own personal health goals. Emily joined Bel Marra Health as a health writer in 2013.


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