From the New York Times, a small study suggests sugar may lower cortisol levels. Cortisol is an important indicator of health. Cortisol needs to be neither too high, nor too low, and must also cycle according to time of day. If any of that is thrown off, we don't feel our best, and if it's way off, we feel terrible.
When we are under stress, our adrenal glands secrete cortisol, and cortisol levels in the blood rise. In this small study, researchers found that people put under stress had lower rises in cortisol if they were drinking sugary drinks. This may suggest a physiological reason why so many of us reach for sugar when we are under stress.
This doesn't mean sugar is a good treatment for stress! Overconsumption of sugar is tied to a host of chronic ailments, such as obesity, type two diabetes, and in sensitive people can cause mood swings and other undesirable effects. I am glad, though, to have a glimpse into the physiology driving that well-known reach for the sugar. Other options for lowering cortisol? Acupuncture, of course, mild to moderate exercise like walking or yoga, meditation, and some medicinals like ginseng.