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Sugar is Sweet—and so is Our Mood

Apr 29, 2015 02:00PM ● By Cate Reynolds
Drinking sugar-sweetened beverages can suppress the hormone cortisol (the so-called “stress hormone” released by the adrenal gland), as well as stress responses in the brain. In other words, sugary drinks make us feel better. But, interestingly, it has to be real sugar to experience the effect—diet beverages sweetened with aspartame do not have the same effect, according to a new study published in the Endocrine Society’s Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism.

“This is the first evidence that high sugar—but not aspartame—consumption may relieve stress in humans,” said one of the study’s authors, Kevin D. Laugero, Ph.D., of the University of California, Davis, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Research Service.

According to the Society’s Endocrine Facts & Figures report, about 35 percent of adults and nearly 17 percent of children nationwide are obese. Sugary drinks are clearly part of that equation, and now another piece in the why-we-crave-comfort-foods puzzle…not to mention why comfort foods are never things like broccoli, spinach, and lentils.

--Sarah Hagerty
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