Fatty foods can dent body’s ability to fight stress: Study

Eating fatty foods during stressful periods can impair the body’s ‘recovery’ from the effects of stress, new research suggests. The study, published recently in Frontiers in Nutrition and Nutrients, showed that consuming foods high in fat before a mentally stressful episode can reduce brain oxygenation and cause poorer vascular function in adults. Researchers from the University of Birmingham took a group of young, healthy adults and gave them two butter croissants as breakfast. They then asked them to do mental math, increasing in speed for eight minutes, alerting them when they got an answer wrong. They could also see themselves on a screen while they did the exercise. The experiment was designed to simulate everyday stress that we might have to deal with at work or at home. The team found that eating high-fat foods attenuated cerebral oxygenation in the pre-frontal cortex, with lower oxygen delivery (39 per cent reduction in oxygenated hemoglobin) during stress compared to when participants consumed a low-fat meal. Furthermore, fat consumption had a negative effect on mood both during and after the stress episode. The scientists were also still able to detect reduced arterial elasticity — which is a measure of vascular function — in participants up to 90 minutes after the stressful event was over.