[PHNUTR-L] Got sugar? Glucose affects our ability to resist
fivestar at nutritionucanlivewith.com
Tue Dec 4 09:36:17 PST 2007
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Public release date: 3-Dec-2007
Contact: Catherine West
cwest at psychologicalscience.org
Association for Psychological Science
Got sugar? Glucose affects our ability to resist temptation
New research from a lab at Florida State University reveals that
self-control takes fuel — literally. When we exercise it, resisting
temptations to misbehave, our fuel tank is depleted, making subsequent
efforts at self-control more difficult.
Florida State psychologist Roy F. Baumeister and his colleagues Kathleen
D. Vohs, University of Minnesota, and Dianne M. Tice, Florida State,
showed this with an experiment using the Stroop task, a famous way of
testing strength of self-control. Participants in this task are shown
color words that are printed in different-colored ink (like the word red
printed in blue font), and are told to name the color of the ink, not
the word. Baumeister found that when participants perform multiple
self-control tasks like the Stroop test in a row, they do worse over
time. Thus, the ability to control ourselves wanes as it is exercised.
Moreover, Baumeister and colleagues found that the fuel that powers this
ability turns out to be one of the same things that fuels our muscles:
sugar, in the form of glucose.
The researchers measured the blood glucose levels of participants before
either engaging in another self-control task or a task that did not
involve self-control. They found that the group performing the
self-control task suffered depletion in glucose afterward. Furthermore,
in another experiment, two groups performed the Stroop task two times
each, drinking one of two sweetened beverages in between. The control
group drank lemonade with Splenda, a sugar-free sweetener; the test
group got lemonade sweetened with real sugar. The sugar group performed
better than the Splenda group on their second Stroop test, presumably
because their blood sugar had been replenished.
The results as reported in the December issue of Current Directions in
Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological
Science, suggest the possibility of psychological interventions for
helping people achieve greater self-control. For one thing, like
muscles, self-control may be able to be strengthened through exercise.
Results so far are inconsistent, Baumeister says, and some regimens work
better than others, but he envisions that greater understanding of the
biological and psychological underpinnings of our ability to control
ourselves will have important real-world application for people in the
self-control business, such as coaches, therapists, teachers, and parents.
Author Contact: Roy Baumeister baumeister at psy.fsu.edu
Current Directions in Psychological Science publishes concise reviews on
the latest advances in theory and research spanning all of scientific
psychology and its applications. For a copy of the article “The Strength
Model of Self-Control” and access to other Current Directions in
Psychological Science research findings, please contact Catherine West
at (202) 783-2077 or cwest at psychologicalscience.org.
Kathrynne Holden, MS, RD < fivestar at nutritionucanlivewith.com >
"Ask the Parkinson Dietitian" http://www.parkinson.org/
"Eat well, stay well with Parkinson's disease"
"Parkinson's disease: Guidelines for Medical Nutrition Therapy"
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