It happens all the time. You have a bad day at work, or an argument with a friend or significant other. So, what do you do? You go straight for the chocolate, ice cream, or whatever your sweet of choice is. But have you ever asked yourself why?
The way in which sweets can relieve stress is impressive — not many things in this world offer such a fast relief to stress. Even scientific research shows that sweets can serve as an incredible help.
So, how does it all work? Let’s look at some of the science behind sweets and their effects on stress.
Studies That Show The Role of Sugar in Stress Relief
For one study, researchers gathered a group of 19 women for 12 days. One of the groups had eight women consume drinks that the organization had sweetened with aspartame. The other group had 11 women consume a similar beverage containing 25% of regular sugar.
Before conducting the study, the scientists measured cortisol levels in the womens’ saliva, performed some arithmetic tests, and performed functional MRI scans. They repeated the tests immediately following the study.
The results showed that there were no significant differences in the results of the groups before the study. But, right after the study, the results showed that cortisol levels were much lower in the group that drank the sugary beverages. The cortisol levels were higher for those who consumed aspartame.
The study results also showed a significant increase in brain activity, especially in the parts that control fear and stress, for the group that consumed sugar. For the aspartame group, these areas had a significant decrease in activity.
Another study at Cincinnati University showed that eating or drinking sweets significantly decreases the production of glucocorticoid, a stress hormone linked to increased risk of obesity and reduction in the body’s immune response.
We can conclude from these studies that sweet snacks made from natural sugar, like our products, have stress-relief benefits. Artificial sweeteners are no substitute. Sugar is excellent self-medication for both physical and psychological stress, particularly compared to artificial sweeteners.
Carbohydrates, Sugar and How It All Works
Our brains account for only 2% of our body weight, but it consumes half of our daily carbohydrate requirements. Glucose is the most important fuel. The brain needs 12% more energy for acute stress, causing people to reach for sweet snacks.
Carbohydrates give the body the fastest source of energy. Cognitive tests have shown that subjects who were stressed did poorly before eating. After consuming food, however, their performance retained its normal levels.
Hunger creates the activation of an entire network of brain regions. The ventromedial hypothalamus (VMH) and the lateral hypothalamus are at the centre of this network. These two areas inside the upper brain stem help regulate metabolism, feeding, and digestion.
The upstream gatekeeper is the nucleus arcuatus (ARH) in the hypothalamus. If it finds that the brain lacks glucose, the gatekeeper blocks information from the rest of the body. This causes us to reach for carbohydrates as soon as the brain decides it needs energy, even if the remainder of the body has plenty of it.
A Study on Carbohydrates
The Scientific American performed a study to understand the relationship between carbohydrates and the brain. Forty participants were examined over two sessions. For one group, the organisation asked the participants to give a 10-minute speech to a group of strangers. In the other session, they did not need to give a speech. When each session ended, the organisation measured the concentrations of the stress hormones adrenaline and cortisol in the participants’ blood. The organisation also provided them with a food buffet for an hour.
When the participants gave a speech before the buffet, they were more stressed and consumed an extra 34 grams of carbohydrates than when they did not give a speech.
Should You Eat More Sugar to Relieve Stress?
Sweets are a great stress reliever and are delicious to snack on. Like most things, however, moderation is key. Consuming high-quality sweets made with natural sugar is good for stress and the soul. But this doesn’t mean you should overindulge in consumption of sugar. When incorporated into your diet in moderation, it can be a well-balanced tool for keeping your stress in check.
Some people often crave sweets in the afternoon at work because they are more stressed at work. If they don’t eat anything, the body may use glucose from the body intended for fat and muscle cell use. This will cause the brain to secrete more stress hormones. This will not only make them more unhappy, but it’ll increase the risk of stroke, heart attack, and depression.
To meet the brain’s needs, a person can either eat more of everything, like the participants did or make it easy on the body and consume more sweets. Some people’s brains can’t get their energy from the body’s reserves, even with plenty of fat deposits. The fundamental cause of this is chronic stress. To keep brains from getting undersupplied, people like this must always eat enough healthy sugars and always eat sweets in moderation.
Our Sweets Are Good For the Soul
If you’re looking for high-quality sweets, look no further than us at Sweet Factory. We deliver sweet treats right to your door, and our sweets are always backed by quality.
We even offer halal, vegan, and vegetarian treats, so no matter what diet you follow, there will be the perfect sweet for you (and your body!).
Check out our whole list of sweets here — we’re sure to have something to satisfy any sweet tooth!