If you are a sweet tooth, there is good news for you. Recent studies have concluded that drinks containing certain amounts of sugar may reduce stress level. This theory does not cover the consumption of aspartame-sweetened drinks as well.
The University of California conducted a study involving 19 female consumers. Their ages varied from 18 to 40. Before and after the study, all of them had to go on a diet and eat as few sugar-based products as possible and no sugary drinks at all. After that, eight of them were given aspartame-sweetened beverages and eleven had to drink sugar-sweetened drinks every day. This trial lasted 12 days. During this period of time, the women had to solve math problems to enhance their stress level before undergoing MRI screenings. Their cortisol level was also tested through saliva samples. Cortisol is a hormone that the body releases in response to stress and is produced by the adrenal glands. After these tests were carried out, it was proved that the participants had different levels of cortisol in their saliva. Those who had drunk sugary beverages before solving the math tests had lower levels of cortisol in their saliva than those who had consumed aspartame-sweetened drinks. Moreover, the MRI scans showed that the eleven participants who had consumed sugar-sweetened refreshments appeared to have more activity in the part of brain that is sensitive to stress and is involved in memory. It is the first scientific evidence showing that the intake of sugar helps people reduce their stress level.
This study shows that certain differences in people’s diet could explain why the reactions to stress are so varied. However, according to scientists, good health depends on a natural reaction to stress. An over- or an under- reaction is usually a symptomatic of a person’s poor mental or physical health, according to an associate adjunct nutrition Professor at the University of California, Kevin D. Laugero, who is also the author of the study. These theories are also supported by a scientist at the Western Human Nutrition Research Center who is a representative of the U.S. Department of Agriculture Research Service.
Nevertheless, sugary beverages have long been criticized as being very harmful to human health. According to a Harvard nutrition report on sweet beverages, they massively contribute to the obesity epidemic. Because sugary drinks do not fill the stomach as much as solid food does, one does not feel the satiety that would result from the huge number of calories ingested with that particular beverage. At the same time, it was shown that people who have a daily intake of sugary drinks tend to have an unbalanced diet. The Endocrine Society states that in the USA, 17% of children and 35% of adults are reported to be obese.
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention say that half of the population drinks sugary beverages every day. Therefore, while this study is useful, it should not be taken as an encouragement for people to consume more sweets than they used to. One should not ignore the effects large quantities of sugar may have on his /her general health.
Image Source: planet-science