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Can Gargling With Sugar Water Boost Your Self-Control?

Weird science alert: Low blood glucose levels can weaken your willpower, but a new study says you may not need to actually eat sugar to strengthen your resolve.

If you struggle to resist temptations—like going for that second piece of cake or blowing off work to play basketball—research has shown that low blood sugar could be to blame. (That's why eating regular meals throughout the day is crucial to weight loss.) But could gargling with a sugary beverage trick your mind and body into staying on task?

Maybe, according to new research published in Psychological Science. Scientists used to think that getting glucose into your body was key to refreshing your energy—and self-control—stores. However, in the new study, participants who simply rinsed their mouth with sugar-sweetened lemonade had better self-control on a laboratory test than those who gargled with Splenda-sweetened lemonade. What's at work here?

The researchers think glucose in a drink can trigger taste buds on the tongue, which then signal the motivation centers of the brain—basically telling the body to pay attention. This reaction, in turn, helps you turn off whatever automatic response you’re facing (i.e see cake,eat cake). 

So will glucose mouth wash help you in the real world? It’s hard to tell. The laboratory test was only 3-5 minutes long, which is much different than long-term feats of willpower, like losing weight or quitting smoking. But if you keep your blood sugar levels in check by eating regularly, a quick swish of lemonade when you’re facing down the dessert buffet can’t hurt, right?

As long as you remember to brush your teeth afterwards, of course.

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