New Discovery: Social Stress Affects Gut Flora and All That Comes with It

Researchers from the Georgia State University have recently proven something that people believed in for millennia. The latest study uncovers the connection between gut bacteria and feelings. It also indicates that the phenomenon known as the ‘gut feeling’ truly exists as that connection goes both ways. However, the most important fact uncovered by this study is the potent negative effect that social stress has on gut bacteria. The consequences of this are far-reaching as they affect one’s weight, mental health, and  immunity.

Social Stress and Gut Bacteria: Two-Way  Link

The devastating effects of stress on human health have been studied repeatedly. Researchers are still trying to find out the extent of the damage it causes. This new study brings that answer one step  closer.

During it, the team from Georgia State University focused on the effects of social stress in particular. The result was a solid proof of the alteration in gut bacteria appearing as a result of this specific stress factor. It’s not a surprise that repeated exposure to the stressor exacerbates the  damage.

The most important discovery of this study was that even one experience of social stress can change the microflora in the gut. This means that there isn’t a social issue so small that it won’t do some damage to the  body.

The reverse link that goes from gut bacteria to the brain is less understood. However, this study added another piece to the puzzle. There are actually quite a few studies that focus on the effects of gut bacteria on mental health. This review published in Clinics and Practice covers the most notable ones. All these works come to the same conclusion. While the exact mechanism of this action remains undetermined, fluctuations in gut health can either treat or cause psychological issues, like depression and  anxiety.

What Does the New Study Mean for Weight Loss and Health?

As The New York Times reported not so long ago, gut bacteria are currently studied to determine how to use them as an aid for weight loss. In fact, probiotic supplements have already proven an efficient addition to many fat burning programs. The new study shows that this is an achievable goal as gut bacteria can be ‘programmed’ to send out the right signals to the  brain.

However, it’s important to understand that despite the connection between gut bacteria and weight loss, these microorganisms aren’t a miracle body-reshaping solution. Effective weight management is achieved through diet, regular exercise, and supplements. So far, the most efficient products are believed to be the ones that cause appetite  suppression.

It’s important to understand that eating a well-balanced diet rich in essential nutrients and fiber, as well as leading a healthy lifestyle, can help restore gut health. This process occurs naturally and shouldn’t be disrupted by anything except some infection or taking antibiotics, which literally annihilate gut  microflora.

The connection between the bacteria and general health is even more profound as 80% of the human immune system is located in the gut. Therefore, any imbalance occurring there makes a body more  vulnerable.

The latest study on the effects of stress highlights another dimension of this problem. Weakened immunity makes one more susceptible to damage, including that which comes from stress. This results in a vicious cycle that can only be broken by a major lifestyle change and a long vacation. In some cases, counseling might be necessary to escape the weight of strained social  interactions.

Social Stress and Gut Bacteria: Conclusion

The most important thing to take from the latest study is that gut health is an important factor that affects one’s wellbeing significantly. In order to stay healthy, lose weight, and even help manage some psychological issues, a person should have their gut populated with ‘good’ bacteria. Avoiding social, stress and any other stress for that matter, is as important for gut health as avoiding  antibiotics.

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