Many individuals eat sweets when they are stressed. Researchers may have figured out why. Sugar lowers cortisol levels, the stress hormone. With lowered cortisol levels, people feel less anxious and tense.
When you drink sugar, it stimulates your brain's pleasure centers like cocaine does. Since we all need a break now and then, when you give in to your cravings, you're just following your body's natural instructions for relaxation. Sugar gives you these feelings because it is extremely effective at lowering cortisol levels.
People who eat a lot of sugar experience lower levels of this stress hormone than those who don't eat much sugar. This means that if you're always feeling stressed out then maybe you should start eating more sugar!
The more sugar you eat, the less stressed out you will feel. This cycle can go on for some people forever - they keep eating sugar to feel better and it actually makes them feel worse. Only when you stop eating sugar will you be able to break this pattern.
People who drink a lot of sweet drinks have higher levels of cortisol than those who don't consume any sugar at all. This shows that even small amounts of added sugar can increase your risk of developing stress-related health problems over time.
When individuals are stressed, they often resort to sugary treats. Sugary diets can impair the body's capacity to respond to stress. Sugar can make you feel less stressed by decreasing the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis in your brain, which regulates your stress response. Stress causes your body to release cortisol. When you eat sugar, it leads to more cortisol being released into your body, which can have negative effects on your immune system, blood pressure, and metabolism.
Stress also causes us to crave sugar. When you're under stress, your body produces more insulin, which leads to increased blood sugar levels. High blood sugar makes you want more sugar -- that's why people who suffer from diabetes experience intense cravings for sweets at times when they should be using their glucose levels as a guide for what they eat.
So, yes, sugar can help you deal with stress. However, too much sugar can also lead to weight gain and other health problems. Excessive amounts of sugar can also cause you to crave more sugar, which then leads to another wave of stress-induced cravings.
It's best to avoid adding sugar to your diet if you want to stay healthy. But if you need sugar to cope with stress, no amount is too much.
Refined sugar is also known to stress your adrenal glands and thyroid (which regulate cortisol, the stress hormone, and aldosterone, which governs your blood pressure). Sugar can also lead to overeating and weight gain. Eating too much sugar can cause insulin resistance, which can lead to diabetes.
Sugar has many names: glucose, sucrose, corn syrup, white sugar, brown sugar, honey. It's in almost every food we eat! Even natural sugars such as fruit juice or milk contain no more sugar than what you'd find in a slice of cake. They're just more concentrated. The amount of sugar in common foods is shown in Table 1.
Table 1: Common sugars in food (%)
Food Source Total Sugars Milk & other dairy products 8-12 Eggs 7-10 Breads and cereals 12-18 Fruit 10-20 Vegetables 4-7 Soup 3-5 Meat and poultry 2-4 Confusion around sugar terms? Glucose is the only type of sugar that our bodies cannot produce so it must come from food. Fructose is found in fruit and honey and is also converted into glucose in our bodies. Galactose is found in milk products and lactose, its digestion product.
How Stress Affects Blood Sugar Levels When you are stressed, your insulin levels decrease and your stress hormone levels rise. This makes it more difficult for your insulin to function properly. If your body is not getting the insulin it needs, you will experience hyperglyceations symptoms or problems related to low blood sugar such as anxiety, depression, mood swings, cognitive difficulties, and more.
Stress prevents your body from releasing insulin, allowing glucose to build up in your blood. If you are stressed for an extended period of time, your sugar levels will continue to rise. Stress can be positive or negative, and its effect on blood sugar is similar whether the stress is physical, such as a fight-or-flight response, or emotional, such as feeling overwhelmed. The more frequent and intense the stress, the higher your blood sugar will become. Stress also affects how well you process food, which will further increase your blood sugar if you are already experiencing high levels due to stress.
If you are being treated for diabetes and are experiencing high levels of stress, it's important to communicate with your doctor about any related health concerns you may have. Your doctor will be able to help you deal with these issues so they don't cause further damage to your health.
If you are healthy and have normal blood sugar levels, stress does not affect you directly. However, if you are already suffering from high blood sugar, stress will raise your levels even further. Therefore, it's important for people who are diabetic to learn ways to cope with stress in order to avoid raising their blood sugar levels too high.
It is possible to learn some stress management techniques that will not only help you reduce stress but also benefit your blood sugar control.
Cortisol delivers glucose to the organism during times of stress by tapping into protein reserves in the liver via gluconeogenesis. This energy might assist a person in fighting or fleeing a stressor. However, chronically raised cortisol continually creates glucose, resulting in elevated blood sugar levels. Stress also affects insulin production and secretion, so having high cortisol levels along with high anxiety levels can lead to diabetes.
Sugar reduction can help you maintain a steady mood and energy levels. Sugar makes your energy levels fluctuate. When you consume anything sweet, your blood sugar levels quickly increase, providing you that boost in mood and alertness, and then quickly decrease once insulin is released into your cells.
Consuming too much sugar can lead to craving for more sugary foods, which can result in consuming more than what is recommended. Addictive substances cause your body to release dopamine, a feel-good hormone. When you eat something with a high content of sugar, such as a cookie, chocolate bar or candy, the dopamine released by your brain is increased. This leads to wanting more of the substance that caused the release of dopamine in the first place! Eating too many sweets also causes glycaemia to rise; glucose is the fuel for cells in your body so if it is not used immediately it will be stored as fat.
Reducing your consumption of sugar can therefore help you stay focused at work, keep up your energy levels when playing sports or engaging in other activities that require concentration, and avoid any possible cravings for more addictive substances.
The best way to reduce your sugar intake is by reducing the amount of added sugars you consume. Avoid products labeled "no sugar added" because these often contain highly processed carbohydrates instead. If you do consume any added sugars, try to limit yourself to less than 10% of your daily intake.