When being stressed, many people start to binge-eating to find comfort and temporary relief. However, a study conducted by researchers at the Garvan Institute of Medical Research in Sydney, Australia, has shed light on the connection between being stressed and over-eating. The study focused on the brain’s “hunger stopper” mechanism, which appears to be shut down when experiencing stress, making it difficult for the brain to signal when to stop eating.
The researchers specifically examined the lateral habenula, a brain region found in both rats and humans, using rats as subjects for the study. Rats that had undergone chronic stress were observed to continue eating for pleasure without feeling satiated. Analysis revealed that these stressed rats consumed twice as much sweet food as non-stressed rats, even when the sweets were calorie-free. This suggests that a preference for sugary foods persists in stressed rats, regardless of their calorie content.
To further validate their findings, the researchers used optogenetic light to reactivate the lateral habenula and control neural activity. Interestingly, when the lateral habenula was reactivated, the stressed rats immediately stopped overeating. Lead study author Chi Kin Ip emphasized that eating can serve as a stress management solution, akin to a form of self-defense, as eating behavior is crucial for survival across species.
Nevertheless, it is important to recognize that overeating in response to stress is not a healthy coping mechanism. The consequences can lead to negative health outcomes, including obesity and related health issues. In fact, being overweight can further contribute to stress levels, creating a cycle of unhealthy behaviors. Just as excessive alcohol consumption can lead to problems, overeating in response to stress should be avoided to maintain overall well-being.
Source : CNNIndonesia