Marriage Food: New Study Examines The Impact Of Fatty Food On Marital Stress

Cooking and eating with your spouse can help strengthen your marriage, but does it matter what you eat?

Researchers at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center are looking to find out through a recently launched study that examines how foods high in saturated fat can impact married couples' stress levels.

In the study, married couples will attend two day-long research sessions together at Ohio State's Clinical Research Center. During each visit, blood samples will be taken and the couples will share a meal.

At one visit, the food will be high in saturated fat, while the other meal will be low in saturated fat. Couples will then be asked to discuss a stressful subject in their marriage, such as money or in-laws. After the interview, more blood will be taken to determine if the stressful discussions influenced how the body processed the fat in the food.

Lead researcher Janice Kiecolt-Glaser said in a press release Tuesday that food may indeed affect how we act. "What you're eating may actually interact with your behavior, to make things worse in terms of your physiological response," said Kiecolt-Glaser. "In previous studies, when discussions got a little more heated we saw bigger changes in stress hormones and larger changes in immune response. In this study, we theorize that after the high saturated fat meal, a negative discussion might increase physiological responses more steeply." The study is expected to wrap up in 2014.

Fatty foods may affect couples in other ways, too. In March, researchers from Dartmouth Medical School found that saturated fat was associated with lower fertility in men. In a study of 99 men at fertility clinics, the ones who ate the most saturated fat had 35 percent fewer sperm than men eating the least fatty foods.

Have you noticed the affects of food on your marriage? Tell us about it in the comments.