Stressed-out woman

PROVO, Utah — Stress may contribute to poor health just as much as a poor diet, a new study finds.

Researchers at Brigham Young University (BYU) and Shanghai Jiao Tong University in China conducted an experiment with a substantial number of eight-week-old mice, half of which were put on a high-fat diet.

Upset woman dealing with stressSixteen weeks after the start of their diet regimen, all of the mice that were part of the study were exposed to conditions that brought about mild stress.

Subsequently, the researchers examined microbial DNA found within fecal pellets from the mice, hoping to determine how different populations within the study reacted to their varying conditions.

Interestingly, the excrement of male mice subjected to a high-fat diet showed that these rodents exhibited greater levels of anxiety, along with decreased activity due to stress. More surprisingly, female mice that were only put under stressful conditions exhibited a shift in the composition of their gut microbiota comparable to that of mice on a high-fat diet.

This finding, in particular, could hint at a serious health issue for many distressed women.

“In society, women tend to have higher rates of depression and anxiety, which are linked to stress,” explains lead researcher Laura Bridgewater in a news release. “This study suggests that a possible source of the gender discrepancy may be the different ways gut microbiota responds to stress in males versus females.”

Indeed, studies have shown that twice as many women experience depression as men, which could further compound an already existing gap in mental health.

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

The full study was published last month in the journal Nature Scientific Reports.

About Daniel Steingold

Our Editorial Process

StudyFinds publishes digestible, agenda-free, transparent research summaries that are intended to inform the reader as well as stir civil, educated debate. We do not agree nor disagree with any of the studies we post, rather, we encourage our readers to debate the veracity of the findings themselves. All articles published on StudyFinds are vetted by our editors prior to publication and include links back to the source or corresponding journal article, if possible.

Our Editorial Team

Steve Fink


Chris Melore


Sophia Naughton

Associate Editor


  1. AlCarn says:

    I eat junk food because I’m stressed. I’m so screwed.

    1. Cornczech says:

      Hey…I DRINK, EAT and all because I am stressed…I am TRIPLE screwed……..

      1. classypiano says:

        LOVE your username!

      2. Cornczech says:

        most people don’t get it….thanks!

    2. cowboybob says:

      I take my corn in the bottle on Rocky Top.

  2. JulietteofOhio says:

    And what is their suggestion? There are very few places in rural America that offer a qualified therapist, and the few available tend to be unaffordable. Good jobs are few and far between. The media is toxic and the entire world is explosive. Our culture, itself, is toxic and you simply can’t medicate that many people, although the opiod crisis would indicate that many are trying to self-medicate. Reading this article is stressful. Depression and stress can be killers, but no guidelines are offered to offset this dismal fact. FB is full of flashing GIFs asking you to type “Amen” and forward “If you love God and know he loves you. and He will take care of you if you just trust him. Expect a miracle!” These same people are also buying lottery tickets at the local gas station, so you know they’re desperate. A bad marriage can be ended, although not without stress, and it’s even harder to leave a bad job. We’re a much weaker country than we were during the Great Depression and the two World Wars. The U.S. may not make it through this particular life crisis. Stressful enough?

  3. Cora857 says:

    Changing my diet to more organic foods, getting rid of sugar and not turning on my tv in the morning worked exceptionally on me. Long lines no longer bothered me, traffic was always smooth even if it wasn’t, I have developed selective hearing where I only listen to things and people I want to. Nothing bothers me anymore.

  4. Alphonsus Jr. ✠ Dᴇᴜs ᴠᴜʟᴛ says:

    Newsflash: we’re not mice.

  5. Bob USAF(ret) says:

    Watching liberals clowns lie on TV is unhealthy also.

  6. Gary Nicholls says:

    The MSG in most junk/processed food will stimulate the amygdala, which is the organ that responds to fear and stress. Adrenalin release is just one of many effects, not good for the heart at all. So when they say stress can kill, they also mean MSG can kill. It nearly killed me.

  7. Bs M says:

    Just another load of crap from big pharma. All these “experts” would have you believe that ‘life’ is dangerous to your health, and causes ‘death’. Just drug everybody up, and all is well in corporate America.

  8. Higgs Boson says:

    The first problem with the story is the false assertion that a high fat diet is bad for you. The number one enemy to your health is sugar and starch.

  9. borntobePolitical says:

    I’ve heard that stress is a chemical reaction verses a mental disease.

    It appears that there is a difference between men and women.