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A single meal containing high saturated fat can cause your focus to dwindle, study finds

May 25, 2020 | 08:00

New research finds that one meal containing high in saturated fat can hinder our ability to focus- not great news for people whose diets have gone south while they're working at home during the COVID-19 pandemic.

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Fatty foods are what many consider as comfort food. From pizza to fries, many people just can't get enough of these favorites. Especially during this time of the pandemic when many are cooped in their homes and unable to go outdoors, it's easy to simply lounge in front of the television with a tray full of appealing, yet fatty food.

Unfortunately, a new study finds that not only does it affect weight, but it also affects one's ability to focus. The study made a comparison of how 51 women fared on a test of their attention after consuming either a meal high in saturated fat or the same meal prepared in sunflower oil, which is high in unsaturated fat.

The results of the study revealed that the participants' performance on the test was worse after eating the high-saturated-fat meal compared to eating a healthier meal, indicating a link between fatty food and the brain.

Researchers were shocked when they found out how a single meal could affect one's focus. They then make out the importance of having better food choices and better meal plans not only for nutrition but overall health and well being as well.

According to Annelise Madison, the lead author of the study and a graduate student in clinical psychology at The Ohio State University, many previous studies that focused on the causative effect of diet was observed over some time, while theirs just concentrated on a single meal, yet yielded a significant finding.

She also noted that while the meal made with sunflower oil was low in saturated fat, it still contained a lot of dietary fat. Because both meals offered to the participants were high in fat content and potentially problematic, Madison said that the high-saturated-fat meal's effect on cognition could be even more significant if it were compared to a meal with lower fat content.

The study was published on May 12 in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

a single meal containing high saturated fat cancause your focus to dwindle study finds

What is Leaky Gut?

Researchers also studied whether a condition called leaked gut had anything to do with the concentration. Having a leaky gut allows intestinal bacteria and toxins to make an entrance into the bloodstream.

a single meal containing high saturated fat cancause your focus to dwindle study finds

An unhealthy gut lining may have cracks or holes, which allows partially digested food, toxins, and bugs to enter the tissues beneath it. In turn, this could trigger inflammation and changes in the normal bacteria found in the gut. This could lead to problems within the digestive tract and beyond the other bodily systems.

According to Harvard Health Publishing, the modern lifestyle is likely to be the primary driver of gut inflammation. There is growing evidence that the standard American diet, which is low in fiber and high in sugar and saturated fats, may commence this process. Heavy alcohol consumption and stress also seem to contribute to the disruption of the gut flora's balance.

The findings of the study also revealed that participants with leakier guts did worse on the attention assessment, regardless of which meal they had eaten.

What Types of Food Contain High Saturated Fat?

According to Heart UK, foods that contain high saturated fat include full-fat dairy products such as cream, milk, yogurt, and cheese.

Additionally, processed meat, such as sausages, burgers, bacon, and kebabs and meat high in fat such as lamb chops, also belong to the category.

Delicious desserts like pastries, pies, milk and white chocolate, toffee, cakes, puddings, and biscuits also contain high concentrations of saturated fat.

a single meal containing high saturated fat cancause your focus to dwindle study finds

The high-fat meal used in the study contained eggs, biscuits, gravy, and turkey sausage containing 60 grams of fat. They were either prepared using a palmitic acid-based oil high in saturated fat or the lower-saturated-fat sunflower oil. Both meals amounted to 930 calories and were designed to resemble the contents of various fast-food meals like a McDonald's Big Mac and medium fries.

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