Sweet drinks suppress stress response, causing habit-forming consumption

By Rebecca Burton • Published: July 28th, 2015
Category: Health in a Heartbeat

Ever had that afternoon craving for a sweet, bubbly soda? A study published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism found that sweetened drinks suppress cortisol, a hormone that causes stress responses in the brain.

The researchers say these stress-suppressing effects could be habit-forming and could enhance the ill effects from drinking sugary soda, namely obesity.

Interestingly, diet drinks sweetened with aspartame did not cause the same stress-relieving response.

According to the Endocrinology Society, about 35 percent of adults and 17 percent of children in the U.S. are obese, and sugary drinks are partly to blame. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that half of the U.S. population consumes sugary drinks daily.

Instead of heading straight to the vending machine, doctors suggest trying natural methods to curb your mid-afternoon slump and sugar cravings.

Getting a good night’s sleep is key. Losing just one hour of sleep per night can result in slower mental functioning.

Eating a healthy breakfast can also beat those cravings and save you from binge eating at lunch. But when you’re packing your lunch for the day, be sure to include protein. Sugar cravings kick in after lunch and eating a high-protein meal with complex carbs such as fruits, veggies and whole grains will help keep you energized longer.

Still feeling the craving? Walk and talk it out. Taking a brisk walk can increase blood flow and energy levels. The researchers also suggest ditching email messages for dialogue, as the art of conversation can also help you stay alert.

If you can’t walk around, try exercising at your desk. Experts at the University of California say a brief moment of stretching can ease tension.