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Can You Eat Stress Away?

Stress has many ways to kill you. It hormonally promotes belly fat and love handles, causes diabetes, and, of course, leads to high blood pressure and heart attacks. So when you're uber-anxious, it may feel relieving to stuff your face with your favorite fatty and sugary comfort foods, but in reality you're feeding the beast and exacerbating the life-threatening effects of stress.

So, sadly, no: Eating crap can't save you. But there may just be a food that can help protect you from the crazy life you lead. Cell-biology researchers at Emory University now think the antioxidant-rich açai berry may just hold the keys to living longer.

One of the more subtly damaging consequences of stress is that it chemically aids the release of molecular free radicals (bad) that wreak havoc on your cells and organs, causing them to age faster. Called oxidative stress (not to be confused with regular life stress), this molecular process can ultimately make you more susceptible to numerous diseases, from cancer to Parkinson's.
In the Emory University medical-school study, fruit flies that were given açai berry actually staved off oxidative stress and in some cases lived three times as long as normal.

The researchers tested several other antioxidant supplements and vitamins, yet only the sweet açai berry showed such significant protecting power.

Clearly, fruit flies aren't humans, and more research needs to be done. But when stress strikes, putting down the pizza and popping a few açai berries won't hurt you, and it may just keep the stress beast at bay.

—Mike Dawson is a magazine writer and editor and a regular contributor to Details.

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