A new study just revealed (to no one’s surprise I might add) that stress is a major contributor to one’s health, just as much as junk food is; you know, junk food, also known as a poor (people’s) diet.
According to a team of researchers at Brigham Young University (UK) and Shanghai Jiao Tong University (China) who put the stress-junk food theory to the test (on mice actually), the lesson to be taken home is this: a high fat (if you’re a human reading this, check out this piece on good fat vs bad fat) dietary intake (the bad kind of fat that is) in mice leads to increased levels of anxiety, and decreased activity similar to…you’ve already guessed it: stress exposure. Yes, mice get stressed too, or at least that’s what researchers claim.
The story goes something like this: the experiment involved a large number of 8 week old mice, of which half were put on a high-fat regimen. Fast forward 16 weeks in the high-fat diet and all the mice exposed to conditions which simulated a mildly stressful environment (the other half) were displaying similar symptoms as the mice fed a high fat diet.
During the experiment, the scientists tried to determine how different mice populations within the study reacted to their environment by examined fecal pellets from the subjects searching for microbial DNA. And here the high fat diet comes into play: mice fed with junk food for extended periods of time (16 weeks in a mouse’s life is like 16-20 years for a human) showed the rodents experiencing a greater level of anxiety and decreased activity, which is a pretty similar reaction to stress exposure. The same (female) mice put under stressful conditions displayed a similar shift in their fecal matter microbial DNA as mice fed a high fat diet. Here’s what a leading scientist, Laura Bridgewater respectively, explained in a news release:
“In society, women tend to have higher rates of depression and anxiety, which are linked to stress. This study suggests that a possible source of the gender discrepancy may be the different ways gut microbiota responds to stress in males versus females.”
“We sometimes think of stress as a purely psychological phenomenon, but it causes distinct physical changes,”