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A stressful previous day reduces the benefits of a healthy breakfast for women
A new study on women, stress and nutrition has now revealed an unfortunate fact. Researchers found that the positive effects of healthy eating in women are offset by the occurrence of stress.
Researchers at the Ohio State University’s Institute for Behavioral Medicine Research found that stress in women can reduce or eliminate the positive effects of healthy eating. The experts published the results of their study in the journal "Molecular Psychiatry".
The previous day's stress affects the next day
Many women try to eat healthy and make sure they exercise enough. This also includes a healthy breakfast. In general, it is important for us to have breakfast, because breakfast increases concentration and makes it easier for us to start the day. However, if women suffer from stress, this affects the possible positive effects of healthy eating, say the doctors. It is enough if this stress occurred the previous day. This reduces the positive effects of a healthy breakfast the next day.
Breakfast or not?
How important is our breakfast? Another study found some time ago that breakfast is not the most important meal of the day, but you shouldn't miss breakfast. Because abstaining from breakfast strains the heart. In women, however, there seem to be other factors that affect breakfast's health effects.
Breakfast with healthy fats leads to health benefits
If women did not experience stress the day before the study, breakfast with healthy fats would give them some health benefits, the authors say. In such women, doctors could not see an increase in various so-called inflammation markers compared to women who had breakfast with a lot of saturated fatty acids. These fatty acids are generally linked to a variety of diseases, the experts add.
Worries, lack of time and financial problems lead to stress in women
But if women suffer from stress the day before, the positive effects of healthy eating are canceled out. Such concerns can be financial, for example, child health concerns or lack of time, the authors say.
Diet and lifestyle affect chronic diseases
The new findings by medical professionals help to better understand the complex interaction between diet, lifestyle and chronic diseases. Such diseases include, for example, diabetes, heart disease or depression. The core of this connection seems to be inflammation, the researchers explain. This actually normal immune response can also be a harbinger of difficulties if the inflammation gets out of control.
Inflammation is a risk factor for cardiovascular disease
By promoting blood clotting and the aggregation of other potential confounders in the blood, inflammation is a risk factor for cardiovascular disease, metabolic disorders, certain cancers, and brain disorders, explains lead author Janice Kiecolt-Glaser from the Ohio State University Institute for Behavioral Medicine Research.
New insights into mechanisms of chronic inflammation
If we can influence our inflammation markers through diet and lifestyle, the underlying mechanisms that harm us in chronic inflammation can possibly be eliminated, the scientists explain. The study offers new scientific insights into the mechanisms of chronic inflammation.
Researchers are studying the effects of stress and a healthy breakfast
For the study, 58 women (with an average age of 53 years) were subjected to a variety of different tests. Afterwards, they were divided into two groups and had to take part in two meetings with breakfast and examination, the doctors explain. The women were assigned one of two meals at the meetings. Both meals were high in calories (930) and high in fat (60 grams). This breakfast consisted of eggs, turkey sausages, cookies and a sauce. In one group, breakfast was prepared with butter and contained a very high proportion of saturated fatty acids, say the experts. The second group of women received the same breakfast, which was prepared with sunflower oil.
Doctors examine four different inflammation markers in the blood of the test subjects
Four different inflammatory markers were measured in the blood before and after meals. In addition, the subjects were asked about all the details of the previous day, including any stress factors that occurred, the authors explain. Blood pressure was measured and current symptoms and history of depression in all women were measured and then recorded.
Many women suffer from stress
Stress factors that negated the positive effects of breakfast were not really vital issues, the scientists say. The participating women mostly described small to medium-sized household disasters, such as stress with the children or caring for unruly older parents. 31 women reported at least one recent stress factor in one of the studies. 21 women complained of a lot of stress in both studies. Six of the women did not report stress in any of the studies.
Our diet cannot compensate for the harm of a stressful dayn
The results of the research were interesting, the authors say. If women had a lot of stress with the healthier breakfast the day before, they showed no less chance of developing inflammation than women with the less healthy breakfast. This suggests that a healthy diet may not be enough to neutralize the damage of a stressful day, the experts explain. Amazingly, the previous day's stress did not change the likelihood of inflammation in women with an unhealthy breakfast with a lot of saturated fat. At this point, the system already seems saturated with the unhealthy breakfast. As soon as our diet has raised the likelihood of inflammation to such unhealthy levels, the effect of a stressful day no longer seems to increase that value, says Dr. Kiecolt glasses.
Avoid stress and eat healthy foods as often as possible
The results of the study should not now lead people to give up their healthy diet because their lives are far too stressful anyway, warns Dr. Kiecolt glasses. It is important to recognize that our diet and lifestyle can have a strong impact on each other. So we have to make the best decisions to better manage our stress and still choose healthy meals whenever possible, adds Dr. Kiecolt glasses added. (as)