Can Sugar Be Helpful in Reducing Anger?Posted on Dec 7th 2010 11:00AM by That's Fit Editors
Those who are trying to lose weight are supposed to lay off the sugar, but are there times the sweet stuff can be good for you?
Reaching for sugary drinks like lemonade may be beneficial to temporarily reduce aggression and anger, according to a study published in Aggressive Behavior.
People who drank a glass of lemonade sweetened with a spoonful of sugar acted less aggressively toward a strangers than those who drank lemonade containing a sugar substitute.
Researchers said glucose, a sugar that is naturally found in the bloodstream that gives the brain energy, could be key to the results.
"Avoiding aggressive impulses takes self control, and self control takes a lot of energy," study author Brad Bushman, professor of communication and psychology at Ohio State University, said in a summary of the findings. "Glucose provides that energy in the brain. Drinking sweetened lemonade helped provide the short-term energy needed to avoid lashing out at others."
Others believe that artificial sweeteners may cause damage to brain cells or inhibit connections between the nerve cells of the brain, including the limbic system, which is involved in emotions.
Even though sugar can cause rapid spikes and drops in blood sugar, leading to mood swings, the effect of substitute sweeteners is even worse.
Bushman and his team have done several previous studies suggesting that people whose bodies have a hard time metabolizing and using glucose show more signs of aggressive behavior and less tendency to be forgiving of others.
Those who fall into in that category -- primarily diabetics, who have trouble processing glucose -- have risen sharply. The number of Americans with diabetes has more than tripled from 5.6 million in 1980 to 18.1 million in 2008, according to the researchers.
"Diabetes may not only harm yourself -- it is bad for society," Bushman said. "The healthy metabolism of glucose may contribute to a more peaceful society by providing people with a higher level of energy for self-control."
In the lemonade study, which Bushman conducted with researchers from The State University of New York, Albany and the University of Kentucky, 62 college students stopped eating and drinking for three hours to stabilize their glucose levels. Researchers told them they were taking part in a taste test and then a reaction exercise against a computerized opponent in which their response times would be recorded.
Half the subjects were given lemonade with sugar; the other half were given lemonade with another kind of sweetener. Participants then waited eight minutes so the glucose could be absorbed before doing the reaction test, which has been used in the past as a way of measuring aggression.
Check out AOL Health to learn more about cooling tempers.