A new study conducted by Brigham Young University (BYU) scientists determined that stress may have similar effects to the consumption of junk food. Namely, the research team analyzed the microbiota of mice as they were being exposed either to stress, or fed with junk food.
Stress and Junk Food, Both Just as Bad for the Body and Health
Laura Bridgewater, a microbiology and molecular biology professor at BYU led this latest research. Together with her colleagues, she took a large of both female and male 8 weeks old mice and divided them into two groups.
One of the female and male mice groups were fed a high-fat diet for 16 weeks. After this, all of the rodents, including the control group, were exposed to mild levels of stress for 18 days.
As part of their study, the research team was especially interested to see the microbiota of the mice, and the differences, if any, after the tests. To do so, they extracted microbial DNA both before and after the stress-test and compared the results. Also, the team measured the mice’s anxiety levels.
They were able to do so by registering where and how much the rodents traveled in an open field.
According to a statement from the team, the results revealed “fascinating differences” between genders. For example, male mice that had been fed a high-fat diet presented higher anxiety levels than female ones with the same dietary regime.
Also, research revealed that stress can lead to changes in the mice’s microbiota that resemble its activity when on a high-fat diet. However, this was only noted to happen in female mice.
“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,” states the study lead.
The researchers point out that even though this test was conducted on animals, it nonetheless has “significant” implications on how people respond as well.
Detailed study findings are available in a paper in the journal Scientific Reports.
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