Between a juice that's sweetened by sugar or a soda with aspartame, an artificial sweetener, which one would probably make you feel more relaxed after a full day of work? Science has the answer.
In a study conducted by Kevin D. Laugero, who works in the University of California-Davis as an associate adjunct nutrition professor and the Research Service of U.S. Department of Agriculture as a scientist, real sugar can actually help beat the stress while aspartame, a very popular sugar substitute, doesn't have the same effect.
To come up with these results, he and his team ran a research for almost 2 weeks. They recruited women who ate a diet that's low on sugar for almost 4 days before they ate 3 regular meals, each paired with their assigned beverage, whether it is sugar sweetened or aspartame enriched. They were also not allowed to consume any other sweetened beverage during the course of the experiment. Before the study ended, the participants ate a low-sugar diet again.
The female participants were also compelled to undergo a stress-inducing test like answering math questions. While doing so, their brain responses were tracked using MRI and saliva samples were collected.
Upon analysis, those who drank sugar-sweetened beverages were less stressed based on the low level of cortisol hormones they produced. Cortisol is secreted by the adrenal glands that help increase the heart rate and blood pressure to help the body react more attentively to certain threats like stress. Their brains, on the other hand, were also active while they were solving the math questions.
However, before you start grabbing regular sodas every time you're under stress, remember that this doesn't reduce your risk of obesity. Rather, it only increases it as sugar can potentially lead to a metabolic syndrome, a more sluggish metabolism, insulin resistance, cardiovascular disease, and chronic inflammation.
The research simply suggests that what these beverages contain may help explain how people tend to react differently when under stress.