Eat Less, Reduce Stress
Oxidative stress is bad. If we do not produce or consume an adequate amount of biological intermediaries (antioxidants) to reduce the damage caused by reactive oxygen compounds (free radicals) we will be increasingly susceptible to metabolic abnormalities and the host of conditions that may result. Exacerbating the issue, the consistent energy surplus (calories in > calories out) to which our society has grown so fond is a major contributor to increasing oxidative load (not to mention the prevalence of obesity) and decreasing our body’s ability to manufacture detoxifying agents. Unfortunate as it is, this shouldn’t come as a huge surprise as the association between oxidative stress and metabolic syndrome has been well established.
For more information on metabolic syndrome, here is a recent post of mine where I try and develop a working definition of metabolic syndrome that is more easily understood by the average individual (me).
Viable Stress Reduction
But, the established association between oxidative stress and metabolic syndrome has been just that, an association. Until now. A new study published by PLoS One confirms this association by measuring obesity-induced oxidative stress and quantifying the impact of weight loss in stress reduction.
And, drum roll, please…………Individuals who observed a reasonable 25% reduction in calorie consumption experience rapid decreases in oxidative stress and were able to achieve levels within the normal range exhibited by non-obese individuals. Yay!
Observing a calorie-restrictive diet measured as 75% of the energy required by resting and active expenditure and composed of approximately 60% carbohydrates, 25% fat and 15% protein over a 4-week period while controlling for externalities that may obscure the outcome (smoking, pregnancy, supplementation, exercise) resulted in a significant decrease in the concentration of F2-isoprostane, a potent marker for biological inflammation. All that in one sentence! I’m honestly a little proud of myself.
Setbacks and Limitations
However, it is worth nothing that although energy intake was lower in the diet group and weight and body fat did decrease, the differences between the diet and control group were not statistically significant. This is unfortunate because decreases in weight and body fat, what I believe is the primary motivation for observing a calorie restrictive diet, could be viewed as insignificant and may discourage individuals from adopting such a diet.
Further, the study acknowledges that the observed reduction in oxidative stress could be the result of changes in the macronutrient content of the foods consumed. However I believe that the majority of individuals who attempt such a diet will also be more mindful of the foods they consume and thus receive similar benefit.
Finally, although the observable benefit of this study was greatly reduced by the short intervention period (30 days), other studies have demonstrated even greater benefits of a long-term calorically restrictive diet that include a reduction in fasting glucose and insulin, which is often associated with a reduced risk for developing type 2 diabetes.
Fact of the Matter
Establishing a diet that observes a moderate, sustainable reduction in calorie consumption will lesson obesity induced oxidative damage and will effectively reduce fluctuations in energy surplus and the detriment of normal metabolic activity associated with digestion.