While fatty food may provide a temporary sense of satisfaction, a recent study found that just one meal containing high saturated fat could substantially impair concentration. The findings were released in the peer-reviewed American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.
According to researchers at Ohio State University, the findings were achieved by comparing cognitive test results of 51 female adult participants after consuming either a meal of high saturated fat, or low saturated fat but with sunflower oil.
The participants took part in a baseline assessment measuring sustained attention and concentration using a computer-based performance test.
The tests were administered after consuming a serving of biscuits, turkey sausage, eggs, and gravy, all of which contained 60 grams of fat and were chosen due to its similarity to meals offered at fast-food restaurants.
About five hours after consumption, the performance test was issued again, measuring sustained concentration. Based on the results, the participants who consumed a meal high in saturated fat were 11 percent less likely to ‘detect target stimuli in the attention assessment.’
Increased levels of endotoxemia also caused poor performance in the assessments.
The reason for the loss of sustained concentration after consumption could be because of an increase in inflammation in the body and possibly in the brain, researchers theorized in past studies.
Essentially, fatty acids could be interacting with the brain, leading to decreased concentration.
“Most prior work looking at the causative effect of the diet has looked over a period of time. And this was just one meal – it’s pretty remarkable that we saw a difference,” said Annelise Madison, the study’s lead author, in a news release.
“Because both meals were high-fat and potentially problematic, the high-saturated-fat meal’s cognitive effect could be even greater if it were compared to a lower-fat meal,” Madison added.
The study comes at a time in which many workers endured a substantial duration working from home in the wake of the SARS-CoV-2 outbreak.