- We all are aware of how junk foods are unhealthy
- Stress can be harmful in a lot of ways
- We sometimes think of stress as a purely psychological phenomenon
"Stress can be harmful in a lot of ways, but this research is novel in that it ties stress to female-specific changes in the gut microbiota," Bridgewater said. "We sometimes think of stress as a purely psychological phenomenon, but it causes distinct physical changes." The researchers at the Shanghai Jiao Tong University in China took a large group of 8 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 animals were exposed to mild stress over the course of 18 days.
Researchers then extracted microbial DNA from the faecal pellets before and after the stress to test how gut microbiota was affected. They also measured anxiety based on how much and where the mice travelled in an open field arena.
The results revealed fascinating differences between the genders; that is males 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. "In society, women tend to have higher rates of depression and anxiety, which are linked to stress" said Bridgewater, who also serves as Associate Dean of the BYU College of Life Sciences. "This study suggests that a possible source of the gender discrepancy may be the different ways gut microbiota responds to stress in males vs. females."
While the study was only carried out on animals, researchers believe that there could be significant implications for humans.
With Inputs from IANS