When you’re stressed out about work, relationships, and overall life, you try to stay calm and balanced by eating some leafy greens or granola to keep your digestion on track. But (not so) deep down we desperately want to consume a hot, juicy burger because hey, we deserve it after the week we’ve have. Well, according to a recent study conducted by professor Jan Kiecolt-Glaser and his team at the University of Ohio, that burger might be just as effective (or non-effective) as those greens when it comes to managing your stress.
The study that first appeared in Molecular Psychology, compared two controlled groups, both consisting of healthy women around age 53, with similar demographic controls. One group ate a breakfast cooked in saturated fats, and the other ate an identical breakfast cooked in sunflower oil, the healthier alternative.
According to blood tests, the women who ate saturated fats and experienced a low stress day prior to the experiment unsurprisingly showed more apparent inflammation in their blood work compared to the women who consumed sunflower oil. This is of course due to the unhealthy nature of saturated fats.
But when women from either group experienced a stressful day prior to the test, both those who consumed fats and those who consumed oils shared high marks of inflammation in their blood work, therefore proving that healthy foods do not necessarily reduce digestive inflammation caused by stress.
These findings would lead one to believe that your stressed body handles those greens the same as it would handle the burger. It seems as though stress doesn’t discriminate and destroys your body no matter what. But don’t pull into the McDonald’s drive-thru just yet.
Professor Kiecolt-Glaser explains that this study actually proves that stress matters more than we thought it did when it comes to what we’re eating.
Chronic inflammation caused by diet and stress is the root of more serious diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis, heart disease and diabetes. So even though, yes, the results on paper say you can eat the burger and feel the same effects as eating the greens in the current moment. But when we’re talking long term, you may want to choose something that is going to keep the inflammation at a minimum. That means a lot of veggies, fruits, and healthy oils.
Overall, the best way to fight the stress is with a strong body and a healthy gut! Or, you know, whatever makes you feel better (we’re big proponent of the #YouDoYou mentality!).