Trans Fats and Increased Aggression

By: Michael Lam, MD, MPH; Carrie Lam, MD; Jeremy Lam, MD

picture of trans fats foods such as pizza, burgers, and friesTrans fats are one of the biggest concerns in health circles. They’ve been linked to a variety of health problems and may cause diseases like heart disease and certain types of cancers. However, despite these health concerns, there’s little talk about their effect on your mood and mental health.

A recent study reveals that trans fats are strongly linked to aggression and irritation in adults. This is particularly important for people who suffer from disorders such as Adrenal Fatigue Syndrome (AFS), which can cause serious and disconcerting shifts in mood as well as more long-term mood disorders. If you suffer from inexplicable aggression or irritability, you need to understand more about this link so you can determine if it’s affecting your mood.

What Are Trans Fats?

Trans fats come in two forms. The first is natural and is mostly found in animal products such as milk and meat products. The second type is artificial and is created using a process during which hydrogen is added to vegetable oils to create a solid.

Trans fats can be found in foods like cakes, biscuits, microwave popcorn, margarine, cookies, frozen pizzas, and fried foods. If you look at the food label and it says the food contains ‘partially hydrogenated oils,’ then it contains trans fats. To avoid these dangerous fats, avoid ready-made baked goods, snacks, and fast foods. Also, instead of eating deep-fried foods, try using an air fryer to make healthier and still delicious fried foods at home.

For a long time, this fat was added to many different types of foods. The addition made food taste better and helped it to last longer. However, over the long-term, this proved to be extremely dangerous because trans fats have since been linked to many health problems including the following:

  • Increased bad cholesterol levels (LDL)
  • Decreased good cholesterol levels (HDL)
  • Higher risk of stroke
  • Increased risk of heart disease
  • Higher risk for type II diabetes

The Link Between Trans Fats and Aggression

angry woman who has had too many trans fatsA recent study examined 945 adults who were not taking lipid medications and were not considered to be at high risk of developing cholesterol related diseases. All the subjects were relatively healthy at the beginning of the study. Potentially confounding factors such as age, education, ethnicity, alcohol intake, and gender were accounted for and the data adjusted to compensate for these differences. During the study, the subjects completed a dietary report at the start of the study and were assessed using questionnaires that examined aggression. They also rated their own levels of aggression and irritability.

The researchers found that subjects who ate more trans fats also experienced more aggression and irritability than other subjects. In fact, trans fats intake was a stronger predictor of aggression than other commonly used predictors. These results strongly suggest that there is a significant correlation between trans fats and aggression. Though there isn’t enough evidence to say that aggression is either caused or exacerbated by trans fats, this would seem to be the most obvious answer. This result has important implications for people who suffer from mood problems or disorders that cause these types of problems such as AFS.

What Is AFS?

AFS is a stress-related disorder that can cause many troubling and debilitating symptoms such as depression, anxiety, irritability, brain fog, fatigue, and weight gain. This disorder isn’t commonly accepted by the medical establishment, which means that many people who suffer from these problems think that they’re just stressed and ignore their symptoms. Ignoring these issues can be very dangerous, as people with AFS can find their condition worsening over time if they don’t address the underlying issues.

AFS is caused by chronic stress. Constant stress is extremely destructive and has been linked to many disorders and diseases. Your body has a system that’s designed to react to stress and to protect you from its harmful effects. This is called the NeuroEndoMetabolic (NEM) Stress Response. But this system isn’t designed to deal with ongoing, prolonged bouts of stress, so when this occurs, it can cause a breakdown in the system. This breakdown usually affects the adrenal glands first, which have a pivotal role in the system and cause a variety of problems when they become fatigued. Your adrenal glands release many essential hormones into your system, and when they become overworked, it can cause imbalances in every system and circuit of your body.

How Trans Fats May Affect AFS

AFS is associated with inexplicable negative shifts in mood. Sufferers often find themselves experiencing severe irritability as well as depression and anxiety. These mood problems can be the result of ill health, or they may be caused by the chemical imbalances that often occur with this disorder. Removing trans fats from your diet probably won’t completely alleviate this problem if it’s caused by chemical imbalances, but it may lessen the severity of your aggression and irritability and improve your overall health at the same time.

woman who looks sore from eating too many trans fatsTrans fats are also a known cause of inflammation, which is the body’s natural response to toxins or damage. Inflammation is a natural process that usually goes away once the source of the damage is gone. However, chronic inflammation is another story. It can occur as a result of stress or poor lifestyle choices and can cause a variety of health problems, diseases, and serious health threats. So if you suffer from inflammation as a result of AFS or because of stress, removing trans fats from your diet is one way to reduce the problem and start to heal your body.

Final Thoughts

For a long time, trans fats were an accepted part of many common foods, and it’s only recently that people have come to understand the danger of these fats. By now, most people understand that trans fats are linked to many health risks, but it’s only recently that researchers have begun to explore how mood can be affected as well. For people who suffer from mood problems or struggle with aggression or irritability, this is an extremely important breakthrough. It suggests that these problems may be reduced by avoiding the foods that contain these fats. This insight is just as important for people who suffer from AFS. Adjusting your diet may be an easy and natural way to manage your aggression or irritability.

© Copyright 2019 Michael Lam, M.D. All Rights Reserved.

Dr. Lam’s Key Question

A recent study suggests that trans fats actually increase aggression and irritability in adults. So if you suffer from mood problems due to AFS or other disorders, you might need to look at the food you’re eating for reasons why.

Trans fats