According to a new study, gargling sugar water can boost a person's self-control.
Researchers found that swishing glucose based drink increased attention and self-control in a test that confuses the brain.
Participants in the study were analyzed on the basis of their abilities to do tests on self-control. The first test involved meticulous crossing out of Es on a page from a statistics book. This test is known to deplete a person's self-control
The other test was Stroop task (based on Stroop Effect) where participants were asked to identify the color flashed on the screen that spell out names of other colors. The task requires a great deal of attention and a high level of self-control to block out the wrong answers.
51 people participated in the tests. Half of them were given lemonade sweetened with sugar to rinse their mouths before the tests while the other half got Splenda-sweetened lemonade.
Study participants who had rinsed their mouths with sugar-sweetened lemonade did better on the Stroop test than people who had rinsed with artificially sweetened lemonade.
Rinsing your mouth with sugar-water will not help you exercise self-control during weight loss or with smoking cessation, researchers said in a press release.
"The glucose seems to be good at getting you to stop an automatic response such as reading the words in the Stroop task and to substitute the second harder one in its place such as saying the color the word is printed in. It can enhance emotive investment and self-relevant goals," said Leonard Martin, professor of psychology from University of Georgia.
Sugar water can help you focus on the task that needs more attention. Previous studies have shown that the first test requires so much energy that by the time people are done with it, they are so exhausted that they simply don't pay attention in the subsequent Stroop test.
"Researchers used to think you had to drink the glucose and get it into your body to give you the energy to (have) self control. After this trial, it seems that glucose stimulates the simple carbohydrate sensors on the tongue. This, in turn, signals the motivational centers of the brain where our self-related goals are represented. These signals tell your body to pay attention," Martin said.
He added that gargling with glucose can help people focus on important goals and also help perform better at the next task.
"In short, we believe self-control goes away because people send away, not because they don't have energy. People turn it off on purpose," Martin added.
The study is published in the journal Psychological Science.