Long-term stress is worse for women

And why it can be just as harmful as a bad diet

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In new study in Scientific Reports, mice of both sexes were exposed to recurring stress. However, researchers found that only the females showed more negative changes to their gut microbiota, which mimicked that of mice who had eaten unhealthy high-fat diets.
"Although the study was performed on mice, it is reasonable to suspect that stress might also impact the gut microbiota differently in women than in men,” says lead study author Laura C. Bridgewater, Ph.D., a microbiology professor at Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah. “We’re probably all familiar with the way temporary severe stress can cause stomach distress, but I think we should be even more concerned about the possibility that prolonged strain might produce lasting harmful changes in the composition of microorganisms in the gut. Such changes could affect our metabolic health and predispose us to conditions like obesity, type 2 diabetes, and heart disease.”
If you're feeling overwhelmed, go for a run or take a yoga class. "Exercise has been shown to reduce the feelings of anxiety," says Bridgewater. You can also train your brain to react to stressors in a more productive manner through mindfulness, meditation, and breathing practices.