Your boss wants the report yesterday, your kid is sick, the drain is blocked and your mother-in-law is coming to stay for the weekend. Eish !
You’re having one of those days/weeks/lives – the stress is killing you.
The trouble with the unbearable stress, is you’re always hungry for nice things. You’re craving sweets and chocolates, BUT you can’t afford to give into the sugar gremlin because you HAVE TO WATCH those numbers on the scale.
HINT : If you are a self confessed chocoholic – go for dark chocolate, from a health perspective this is best.
Sugar does dial down the stress
Well, you will be pleased to know, science is able to confirm that your sugar addiction, is more than just a need for a bit of a kick. Eating sugar does bring down the levels of corticosterone, the stress hormone within 40 minutes.
Well it does if you are a stressed out rat. And is seems highly likely that this chemistry also applies to stressed out humans.
Researchers from University of Cincinnati documented the stress numbing powers of sucrose, but they discovered a very interesting catch.
It quite literally only takes a spoonful
This is the good news if your life feels like your life is ONE CONTINUOUS STRESS. You may be able to fix your head stress, without creating body stress, which turns you into a giant lump with half a dozen other medical issues.
The scientist experimented with different sugar fixes for the stressed out rats. Logic suggested the more sugar a stressed out rat gets, the bigger the fix.
But, less is in fact more.
- Rats who were briefly allowed only 4 ml of a 30 % surcrose solution (this is table sugar), saw their stress diminish
- Rats given a mega-dose of sucrose directly into their tummies – didn’t really see their stress hormone levels drop
Suggesting the sugar stress busting effect, has nothing to do with calories – which for the weight conscious , is really GOOD NEWS.
A spoonful of sugar will calm the nerves
So if you’re stressed out and you need a little relief.
Don’t be afraid to pop something small and sweet into your mouth – the very taste of sugar on the tip of your tongue, will make everything a little better, biochemically speaking.
A drop in your stress hormone should take the edge off.
But, be warned it must be a small sweet something i.e. the whole box of chocolates is not acceptable. This is where you will need to use a LOT of willpower, because if you cross the line from small bite, to a plateful…. you’ll be on the sugar rollercoaster.
And rollercoaster rides are by definition very STRESSFUL. It will create some serious sugar cravings….
The sugar rollercoaster
Comfort foods are typically high sugar, even if they are not actually sweet, such as bread and pasta, they cause a postprandial sugar spike.
To deal with the high load of sugar, which is potentially very damaging to the blood vessels, the pancreas knocks out a wopping dose of insulin. Insulin does its job and squirrels all the sugar away inside the cells for later use.
But insulin can be too efficient – causing the sugar level to dip rather low. It is this low, that precipitates the brain’s wobbly, which manifests as a sugar craving and is often accompanied by being in a mood and feeling as flat as a pancake.
The fix for this condition is to reach for a sugar snack. Which of course just begins the wild sugar ride all over again. This rollercoaster ride typically leads to weight gain, which can eventually lead to diabetes etc.
It might be worth popping a sweet, just one NOT A WHOLE BAG, into your brief case for emergencies. Think of it as your first aid kit, which can be deployed if you suffer a particularly severe stress attack.
PS. If your life is one BIG stress – you will need more than a plaster to stop the problem. Unfortunately, dialling down this kind of stress is easier said than done, but you need to try because it can create body chemistry chaos.
PSS. If you really are worried about packing on the pounds, the team discovered artificial sweetners are also able to provide the exact same sweet relief, so you could opt for a “diet” sweet instead of the real deal.HPA axis dampening by limited sucrose intake: reward frequency vs. caloric consumption. Physiol Behav. (2011) 103(1): 104–110. Yvonne M. Ulrich-Lai, Michelle M. Ostrander, and James P. Herman.
Interested in learning more about the chemistry behind STRESS ?
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