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A poor diet is one reason for elevated levels of inflammation in the body; too much stress is another. Now new research shows that even when you’re making healthier dietary choices, high levels of stress can still wreck havoc. Researchers from Ohio State University found that women who had a stressful experience before consuming a meal rich in monounsaturated fat had the same levels of inflammation as those who ate a meal high in saturated fats.
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“This study indicates that a stressful situation can cause immediate inflammation and erase any benefits of making a healthier fat choice,” says study co-author Martha Belury, professor of nutrition at Ohio State University. A stressor (even one as simple as getting a traffic ticket) can prime the subjects’ bodies to elevate an inflammatory reaction. And too much inflammation in the body can lead to a host of health issues, including cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and arthritis. To help keep your levels low, counter stress by regularly choosing a healthy diet, exercising, and using stress-management techniques like mindful meditation and massage.