Sugary drinks like soda may alleviate stress, according to a new study.
The study, published in The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism, explains how drinking sugar-sweetened beverages work to suppress the hormone cortisol and stress responses in the brain, writes Nature World News.
“This is the first evidence that high sugar – but not aspartame – consumption may relieve stress in humans,” Kevin D. Laugero, one of the researchers, said in a statement.
According to the Society’s Endocrine Facts and Figures Report, about 35 percent of adults and nearly 17 percent of children in the US are clinically obese and sugary drinks are partially to blame, researchers say.
In addition to these figures, about half of the US population consumes sugar-sweetened every day, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Over the duration of the 12-day study, a group of eight and 11 women, aged 18-40, drank aspartame and sugar-sweetened beverages, respectively. Researchers then conducted functional MRI screenings to gauge the brain’s stress response, as well as measuring their levels of cortisol, a stress hormone, from saliva samples.
The researchers found that women who drank sugar-sweetened beverages during the study had showed a lessened cortisol response, compared with those who had consumed aspartame-sweetened beverages.
They also found that women who drank beverages sweetened with sugar exhibited more activity in the hippocampus – a part of the brain that is usually less active when the body is under stress – when compared to the women who drank aspartame-sweetened beverages.
“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.”