Do you often find yourself indulging in sweet things when you’re stressed?

According to this study by researchers from the Monell Chemical Senses Center, mice (and apparently humans too), secrete excess amounts of glucocorticoids (GCs) that activate GC receptors in cells. They found GC receptors in tongue cells, which are responsible for identifying sweet, savoury and bitter tastes. The highest concentrations were found in taste cells that are particularly sensitive to sweet and savoury tastes, which may be the reason for your sweet indulgence when stressed. In comparing non-stressed and stressed mice, they found that the latter had 77% higher concentrations of GC receptors in taste cells.

This means that stress could alter perceptions of sweet taste and consuming sweet goods, affecting appetite and metabolism of sugars and other nutrients through the activation of GC receptors in the gut and pancreas. These taste receptors are not only in the mouth but also various other parts of the body.