Researchers have discovered a potentially disastrous connection between Junk Food and Stress. We know each of those things is unhealthy by itself, but, now, scientists say they work their evil on your body in similar ways. And the effects appear to be especially pronounced in women…
A recent study by Brigham Young University (BYU)researchers shows that stress acts in negative ways on the body in the same way that a really bad diet. Specifically, a high-fat diet. For now, it’s only been proven in mince, but mice are used in medical and scientific studies because they have a lot in common with humans.
The paper, published in Nature Scientific Reports, BYU professor of microbiology and molecular biology Laura Bridgewater 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 had been eating a high-fat diet.
“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 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.
So… What’s the ‘takeaway’?
Assuming that the findings of the study translate directly to humans, we can assume that stress and a high-fat diet are more damaging together than the simple sum of their parts.
Taking that a step farther… We can assume that consoling yourself with comfort food when you’re stressed is a really bad idea.
And that’s good enough for me.
~ Maggie J.