RoseTracker| University of Cincinnati neuroscientists say that whether it’s food or sex, pleasureable activity actually reduces stress by inhibiting anxiety reponses in the brain. Experimenting with rats given access to sugar solutions, including saccharin-based, exhibited reduced-stress effects for at least seven days, suggesting a long-term benefit.
Rats given access to sexually responsibe partners also exhibited reduced heart rate and stress hormone levels, but rats receiving sucrose supplied directly to the stomach didn’t experience the rats’ stress response.
Physiological responses to stress include activation of the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenocortical (HPA) axis, regulated by the brain structure known as the basolateral amygdale (BLA). Rats exposed to pleasurable activities, such as tasty foods and sex, experienced weakened HPA axis responses to stress, the researchers found. Lesions of the BLA prevented stress reduction by sucrose, suggesting that neural activity in the BLA is necessary for the effect. via Science Daily