Social Stress Leads to Changes in Gut Bacteria, Even If You’re a Hamster: Study

Social Stress Leads to Changes in Gut Bacteria, Even If You’re a Hamster: Study

Feeling like you can’t keep up? It could be your colon playing games with your status.

You might feel like stress definitely effects your emotional well-being but leaves your body untouched. If you’re anything like a Syrian hamster however, scientists will disagree with you.

According to experts, hamsters are perfect creatures to look at when it comes to studying the effects of social stress on the body, as they very quickly create dominance hierarchies when they’re placed together.

Playing on this, researchers from Georgia State University put a bunch of hammies together for a period of time. They then studied them to follow up.

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It was found that when hamsters were exposed to a single social stress, this caused a change in their gut microbiota, similar to what you might find following exposure to other, much more severe physical stressors. And the problem got bigger as interaction increased.

“Because ‘losers’ show much more stress hormone release than do ‘winners,’ we initially hypothesized that the microbial changes would be more pronounced in animals that lost than in animals that won,” said Dr. Kim Huhman, a professor of neuroscience at Georgia State.

“Interestingly, we found that social stress, regardless of who won, led to similar overall changes in the microbiota,” she added.

In fact, researchers also found that the presence of certain gut bacteria before the social interactions began seemed to predict who would win or lose, once things got started.

So, maybe that salad is doing more for you than simply clearing out your colon! I know, gross. I couldn’t help it, it’s Wednesday… but it might make you the life of the party.  At least if you’re in a cage.

Photo credits: fantom_rd/

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