How Early-Life Stress Could Increase Risk Of Anxiety And Depression Later In Life

The trillions of organisms living in your digestive track can literally change the way your brain works.

Scientists continue to find more and more evidence of the significant influence gut bacteria has on mental health. Studies have linked gut bacteria imbalances to a host of health issues, including depression, anxiety, autism and Alzheimer’s disease, and research has also suggested that a healthy microbiome can contribute to a healthy brain and good mood.

These issues can be activated at a very young age. New research suggests that a stressful childhood might set you up for gut dysfunction and mental health issues down the road.

In a study on mice, which was published this week in the journal Nature Communications, researchers from McMaster University in Canada showed that early-life stress can lead to imbalances in the gut microbiome and contribute to the development of anxiety and depression.

“Early life stress changes the composition and metabolic activity of bacteria in the gut,” the study’s lead author, Dr. Premysl Bercik, a professor of gastroenterology at the university’s medical school, told The Huffington Post in an email. “We postulate that this change is due to altered gut function induced by stress.”

The stress-bacteria connection

For the study, the researchers subjected infant mice to stress by separating them from their mothers when they were between 3 and 21 days old.

After being subjected to maternal separation, the mice had abnormally high levels of the stress hormone corticosterone and displayed anxiety and depression-like behavior. The mice also showed imbalances in gut bacteria, which the researchers attributed to the release of acetylcholine, a neurotransmitter involved in the stress response that communicates between the body and the brain.

Then, the researchers repeated the experiment in —> Read More

Photographer Steve Winter’s 5 Wildest Big Cat Encounters

As World Lion Day approaches, the world mourns the death of #CecilTheLion in Zimbabwe, and people (including Arnold Schwarzenegger) show their support for these majestic animals through National Geographic’s #5forBigCats campaign, big cat photographer Steve Winter is spreading the word about big cats on tour in Australia with National Geographic Live.

He’s kicking off in Melbourne on July 31. Then he’s off to Auckland, Wellington, Sydney, Singapore, and, on World Lion Day (Auguest 10), Perth.

With #5forBigCats in mind, here are five of Steve Winter’s wildest big cat encounters!

1. Robot vs. Tiger?

Winter tried out a new gizmo to get an in-your-face view of tigers … but what did the tigers think?

2. Waiting for the Right Moment as a Photographer

How Winter captured his “favorite” photo—after 24 days of waiting for the right moment.

3. A Big Cat on the Loose in Los Angeles?

Winter is used to working in tough terrain. But what about working in an urban jungle, like downtown Los Angeles?

4. Meeting Smasher

Meet Smasher, an Indian tiger who does not like having his photo taken.

5. His First Wild Encounter

Steve Winter didn’t take a picture of an animal until he was 34 years old!

See Steve Winter Live on Stage

High five. Give $5. Save big cats.

#5forBigCats

—> Read More

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