Published on 05/06/2014
Stress hormone receptors in tastes buds are the scientific link causing us to eat sugary foods to make us feel better, researchers claim.
Stressed people may reach for chocolate
When stressed, people can often reach for sugary food to alleviate their mood in an attempt to feel better. This study investigated the scientific causes behind this.
The study was carried out by a team from the Monell Chemical Senses Center Philadelphia led by Dr Rockwell Parker. The findings were published in the journal Neuroscience Letters.
According to the study, stress can cause an increase of the secretion of hormones called glucocorticoids. These hormones can activate the glucocorticoid receptors in the body’s cells. When these receptors are activated they can influence taste preferences in humans.
Many experts are agreed that stress greatly influences our choice of food and can lead to emotional overeating, especially eating calorific foods high in sugar and fat, in a bid to overcome negative feelings.
The study investigated the glucocorticoid receptor levels in mice and found that stressed mice had a 77% higher level than non-stressed mice. The researchers say this could influences our sweet taste perception thus altering our intake of sugary foods.
Dr Parker said: "Taste provides one of our initial evaluations of potential foods. If this sense can be directly affected by stress-related hormonal changes, our food interaction will likewise be altered.
"Sweet taste may be particularly affected by stress. Our results may provide a molecular mechanism to help explain why some people eat more sugary foods when they are experiencing intense stress."
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