Food and Sex: Tried and True Ways to Reduce Anxiety

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It’s no secret that eating something tasty and having sex are pleasurable, anxiety-reducing activities. But researchers studying stress responses in rats found that sex and food could reduce anxiety even over the long term, for up to 7 days. 

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The study, conducted at the University of Cincinnati’s Laboratory of Stress Neurobiology, found that rats fed sugar water showed lower heart rates and levels of stress hormone than rats that didn’t get the sugar water; they also behaved more socially with other rats. Likewise, rats given “sexually responsive partners” also showed reduced hormonal reactions to external stress. AOL Health reported:

“That totally makes sense,” said AOL’s mental health expert, Dr. Danial Carlat. “Certainly in my clinical work, when patients are feeling either anxiety or depression, it’s very helpful to get them to focus on something pleasurable in their lives.”

Carlat said he often asks his depressed or anxious patients to make a list of things that give them pleasure, whether it’s eating ice cream, watching a TV show or movie they like, taking a walk, taking a bath or shopping. He then has them engage in one of those activities regularly.

“These findings give us a clearer understanding of the motivation for consuming ‘comfort food’ during times of stress,” lead researcher Yvonne Ulrich-Lai said in a statement. “But it’s important to note that even small amounts of pleasurable foods can reduce the effects of stress.” (More on Can an iPhone App Save Your Marriage?)

Read more at AOL Health.

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