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article imageSugar-sweetened drinks may reduce stress levels, study suggests

By Sravanth Verma     Apr 17, 2015 in Health
New research from the University of California has concluded sugar-sweetened beverages may help reduce stress in people.
The study noted beverages like soda, or juice with added sugar, reduces stress responses in the brain. However, diet drinks sweetened with aspartame, an artificial sweetener, do not have the same effect.
The study worked with 19 female participants for a 12-day period. Eleven received sugar-sweetened beverages with breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Eight received aspartame-sweetened drinks. For 3.5 days before and after the study, participants were put on low-sugar diets. They also went through MRI screenings before and after the study period, after performing mathematics evaluation tests to gauge the brain’s response to stress. Levels of cortisol, the hormone released by the adrenal glands as a response to stress, were measured in saliva samples.
The study concluded participants who received sugar-sweetened drinks had lower levels of cortisol after the math test. These participants also showed greater activity in the brain region associated with memory, which is sensitive to stress. "The results suggest differences in dietary habits may explain why some people underreact to stressful situations and others overreact," Laugero said. "Although it may be tempting to suppress feelings of stress, a normal reaction to stress is important to good health. Research has linked over- and under-reactivity in neural and endocrine stress systems to poor mental and physical health."
Prior studies have listed various means such as chanting, classical music, tea, dark chocolate, yoga and meditation as being beneficial for stress relief, and reducing cortisol levels. But this study is the first to provide evidence that sugar-sweetened drinks have a positive influence on stress, which is not the case with aspartme-sweetened soft drinks, according to Kevin D. Laugero, Western Human Nutrition Research Center scientist with the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Agricultural (USDA) Research Service and associate adjunct nutrition professor at the University of California, Davis.
The authors however were quick to caution that sugar-sweetened beverages are linked to obesity, and should therefore consumed with caution. "The concern is psychological or emotional stress could trigger the habitual over-consumption of sugar and amplify sugar's detrimental health effects, including obesity,” said Laugero .
The study titled "Excessive Sugar Consumption May Be a Difficult Habit to Break: A View From the Brain and Body" was published in The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism in April. -sweetened drinks do not, a study from suggests.
More about Stress, Soft drinks, The Endocrine Society
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