Stress can be harmful in a lot of ways.
The thing that was interesting about this study, is that it specifically tied
stress to changes in the gut microbiota. When female mice on a normal, healthy diet were
exposed to stress, their gut microbiota changed to look like they’ve been eating
a high-fat diet, and that didn’t happen in the male mice, only the female mice.
Harmful kinds of bacteria, living in the gut, contributes to metabolic syndrome.
This is a syndrome that involves obesity, type 2 diabetes, heart disease. In society,
women tend to have higher rates of depression and anxiety. This study has
made me wonder if it has to do with differences in the gut microbiota. The
study was done in mice, but it has important messages, I think, that apply to
us as humans. Stress can hurt us. It can have physical changes–it can change our
gut bacteria in a way that is as if we were eating a very unhealthy diet, so,
stress needs to be one of those things that we think about when we’re trying to
keep ourselves healthy.