Stress may be as unhealthy as junk food: Study

Written by October 20, 2017 12:43

New Delhi: Stress could be just as unhealthy as eating a really bad diet, according to researchers from the Brigham Young University, Utah.

Researchers have found that stress may be just as harmful to your body as a really bad diet.

“We sometimes think of stress as a purely psychological phenomenon, but it causes distinct physical changes,” said Laura Bridgewater, Professor at Brigham Young University in Utah, US.

The study, published in the journal Nature Scientific Reports, found that when female mice were exposed to stress, their gut microbiota — the microorganisms vital to digestive and metabolic health — changed to look like the mice that had been eating a high-fat diet.

Bridgewater and her collaborators at Shanghai Jiao Tong University in China took a large group of eight-week-old mice and exposed half of the males and half of the females to a high-fat diet.

After 16 weeks, all of the mice were exposed to mild stress over the course of 18 days.

The researchers found fascinating differences between genders: Male mice on the high-fat diet exhibited more anxiety than females on the high-fat diet, and high-fat males also showed decreased activity in response to stress.

However, it was only in female mice that stress caused the gut microbiota composition to shift as if the animals were on a high-fat diet.

While the study was carried out on animals, not humans, researchers believe there are could be significant implications for humans.