Most of us know we’re cranky and irritable when we haven’t eaten for a while, but we may not realize it has a detrimental impact on our love life. According to research published earlier this year in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, the lower a person’s blood sugar, the more likely he or she is to take it out on a partner. Okay, it’s not exactly rocket science and certainly most of us could have guessed it, but all the same it’s an interesting study, particularly when the voodoo dolls come out…seriously.
The scientists measured blood sugar levels in 107 married couples over three weeks. To measure each person’s aggressive impulses, participants were given voodoo dolls to represent their spouse. Participants stuck the voodoo doll representative of their spouse with 0 to 51 pins depending on how angry they were. To measure aggression, study participants blasted their spouse with loud noise through headphones. The participants with the lowest glucose levels stuck more pins into the voodoo dolls and blasted their spouse with longer and louder noise blasts. Did I mention it was an interesting study?
How Does Low Blood Sugar Cause Such Ghastly Behavior?
So you may be wondering how blood sugar causes such ghastly behavior. It works like this: You don’t eat for 4 or more hours. Your blood sugar levels come crashing down. Your brain cells need energy and don’t have a backup system so it’s the frontline organ that feels the first effects. You experience brain fog. Your adrenal glands—two triangular-shaped glands that sit atop the kidneys and help you cope with stress—pump out adrenaline which causes your heart rate to speed up (an ancient mechanism to help you hunt for food!). As your body is flooded with more stress hormones you experience anxiety, headaches, and even shakiness. Your brain diverts energy from elsewhere in the body in an effort to get back on track. You experience anger, aggression and mood swings. And, then your spouse walks in… I think you can guess where this is going.
Unusual Study with Serious Implications
While the study is definitely one of the oddest I’ve ever come across (just the voodoo dolls alone make it shockingly weird), it has some sobering implications. Too much anger or aggression can seriously damage a relationship.* This study clearly demonstrates that the simple act of eating more frequently, eating more fiber at meals, or snacking can cut the blood sugar rollercoaster off before it gets out of hand, and may even reduce the likelihood of aggression and violence against a partner.
*Domestic abuse is a serious issue. No amount of physical violence against a partner is acceptable; if you are experiencing domestic violence, you can call 1−800−799−7233 for help.
High Fiber Foods and Snacks
Fiber helps stabilize blood sugar levels, preventing wild spikes and drops. Some of the best high fiber foods include: beans (navy beans have 19 grams of fiber per cup and kidney beans have 16 grams, but any beans will do); nuts (a one-ounce serving of Brazil or pine nuts has 12 grams of fiber); and chia seeds (2 Tablespoons of ground chia seeds added to a smoothie provides 10 grams of fiber).
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