Does stress have the same bodily impact on us as eating junk food? This was the theme of a study conducted by researchers at Brigham Young University and Shanghai Jiao Tong University. They conducted an experiment in which two-month-old mice were put on a high-fat diet and subject to stressors.
When the researchers examined the microbial DNA in the mice’s fecal pellets, it was evident that the male mice were subject to higher anxiety levels and lowered activity levels due to stress. However, female mice reported higher depression and anxiety levels, corresponding to high stress levels.
Among human beings too, more women experience depression and anxiety than men do. However, when both are exposed to eating junk food, they exhibit similar symptoms of stress, which are:
1. Heart Diseases
The precise relationship between stress and heart disease is still unknown. Yet, it is becoming clear that there is a link. A study was conducted on 200,000 European employees who had stressful jobs. These people were also found to be poor in making decisions and, therefore, were 23% likelier to have a heart attack than those with less on-the-job stress.
On the other hand, junk food is seen to be a huge cause of heart diseases like cardiac arrest, atherosclerosis and myocardial infarction. This is because junk food contains huge amounts of cholesterol and low-density lipoproteins on the inner blood vessel linings. This ends up forming plaque. To combat plaque formation, the heart needs to pump up more blood through the arteries. Due to fat in the blood, oxygen levels are also vastly reduced. And yet another alarming factor is that junk food always has excessive amounts of salt and sugar which cause high blood pressure. All these factors lead to high stress levels in people who regularly eat junk food.
Diabetes impacts stress hormones in several ways, but chiefly in these ways:
Stress hormones directly affect glucose levels. In fact, it hampers glucose levels. If you’re under stress and your body responds in the fight or flight manner, your body may not be in a position to process the required glucose if you have diabetes. By not being able to convert glucose into energy, it will deposit itself in the bloodstream and cause your blood sugar levels to increase.
People who regularly eat junk food end up damaging their pancreases, causing insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus (IDDM).
Workplace related stress like shift duty, huge workload, unreasonable targets and conflicts with colleagues or bosses can be some of the reasons that people face before finally suffering from lack of energy and motivation, and fatigue. Anxiety at the possibility of losing one’s job, unemployment or burnout are other reasons for experiencing fatigue due to stress.
On the other hand, junk foods are filled more with harmful cholesterol, fats and carbohydrates, rather than nutrients for the body. Consequently, a regular eater of junk food consumes fewer nutrients, which makes the eater physically weak.
These are just the salient reasons that make stress as harmful to the body as junk food. There are many more, each more harmful to the body than others, so be warned that by eating junk food, you’re going off the rails of good health.