According to new research findings from the Monell Center, the interaction of stress and taste systems could explain stress-related consumption of sugary foods.
The findings, published online ahead of print in the journal Neuroscience Letters, revealed that sweet taste perception and intake, which are known to be altered by stress, may be specifically affected via secretion of Glucocorticoid (GC) hormones and subsequent activation of GC receptors in taste cells. However, GC receptors were not found in cells thought to be responsible for detecting salty and sour taste. One explanation, the study found, is that stress may influence salt taste processing in the brain.
Further, taste receptors in the gut and pancreas might also be influenced by stress, potentially impacting metabolism of sugars and other nutrients and affecting appetite, the study found. Future studies will continue to explore how stress hormones act to affect the taste system.