Stress as bad as junk food for gut health in women

Hand picking up pizza slice
Junk food isn't the only cause of bad gut health according to a new study.

High stress levels could do just as much harm to women’s gut health as junk food, a new study by American researchers has found.

Researchers from the Brigham Young University in Utah published their results in the journal Scientific Reports and said the effects of stress on the gut were similar to those of a high-fat diet for females.

The team analysed the effects of stress on mice and said female mice experienced changes in their gut health due to stress, even while eating a healthy diet, while male mice were not affected.

Read more: Why your gut health is so important

Study co-author Laura Bridgewater, of the Department of Microbiology and Molecular Biology at Brigham Young University told Medical News Today the findings were preliminary, but that she believed they may also apply to humans.

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“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,” she said.

“We sometimes think of stress as a purely psychological phenomenon, but it causes distinct physical changes.

“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 vs. females.”

Read more: How to avoid toxic stress in your everyday life

Recent studies have found that our gut health plays a large role in our overall health and our ability to ward off disease later in life.

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Fermented foods, such as natural plain yoghurt and kimchi, are particularly good for gut health and help promote healthy bacteria to promote our immune system.

Read more: The best snacks for anyone who’s a stress eater

Are you a bit of a stress-head? Do you think much about your gut health?