Sugary Drinks Maybe Helpful in Dealing with Stress

   |  Updated: April 17, 2015 16:02 IST

Sugary Drinks Maybe Helpful in Dealing with Stress
Stress is inevitable in our urban lifestyles. What is worse still – the bad habits that we develop because of it such as binge eating, not following a healthy schedule and skipping exercise. And as much as we are told to stay away from sugar, a recent study suggests that a little bit of it may actually help in curbing stress.

Have you realised that most often some of us tend to pick up a soda can from the refrigerator when feeling stressed? This could be because sugary drinks may relieve stress in humans by disrupting the body's normal response to stressful situations.

"Although it may be tempting to suppress feelings of stress, a normal reaction to stress is important to good health," explained one of the study's authors Kevin Laugero from the University of California, Davis.

Drinking sugar-sweetened beverages can suppress the hormone cortisol and stress responses in the brain, but diet beverages sweetened with the artificial sweetener like aspartame do not have the same effect, the findings showed.

"This is the first evidence that high sugar - but not aspartame - consumption may relieve stress in humans. The concern is psychological or emotional stress could trigger the habitual overconsumption of sugar and amplify sugar's detrimental health effects, including obesity," said Laugero.

The overconsumption of sugary drinks such as soda and juice has been linked to the obesity epidemic and several other health risks. The study examined the effects of consuming sugar and aspartame-sweetened beverages on a group of 19 women aged between 18 and 40 years.The researchers assigned eight women to consume aspartame-sweetened beverages, and 11 to drink sugar-sweetened beverages for a 12-day period and assessed their performance in a maths test.

Women who drank sugar-sweetened beverages during the study had a diminished cortisol response to the math test, compared to women who were assigned to consume aspartame-sweetened beverages.

In addition, the women who consumed sugar-sweetened beverages exhibited more activity in the hippocampus - a part of the brain that is involved in memory and is sensitive to stress - than the women who drank aspartame-sweetened beverages.

The study was published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism.

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