According to a new study published in Nature, stress can make your body respond to a superfood-filled salad the same way it would a double-bacon cheeseburger.
The study, performed on 58 women, found that stress counteracts the benefits of eating a healthy diet. Researchers fed all the women a meal high in saturated fat and then a few weeks later fed them a meal low in saturated fat; before and after each meal blood samples were taken and tested, and before each meal women had to complete a survey about their current anxiety levels.
Their findings were surprising: For women who self-identified as “low stress,” the meal high in saturated fat produced more C-reactive proteins, which indicate higher levels of inflammation. This is pretty typical, and why diets low in saturated fat are usually recommended, but what happened next was shocking.
Women who responded to the survey as “high stress” had the same reaction to both meals—there was an increase in C-reactive proteins and inflammation, even after eating the healthier meal.
Lead author Janice K. Kiecolt-Glaser told The New York Times: “The surprise here is that stress made the healthier-fat meal look like a saturated-fat meal. [It] is doing things with the metabolism that we really didn’t know about before.”
Kinda scary that work or relationship woes can counteract your nutritious choices. What can you do about it? Although it’s inevitable, you can figure out how to manage your stress levels in a healthy way. Meditation, exercise, and self-care are some go-to ways to decompress, but dealing with it can be as simple as taking a few minutes out of your day to journal or turning off your phone after 5 p.m.
Check out these reads for our favorite ways to deal: