You probably don’t need a study to tell you that you get irritable if you go too long without eating, but you may not realize the effect that it can have on your love life.
According to an Ohio State University study published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America this past spring, the lower your blood sugar, the more likely you are to take it out on your partner.
Making things even more interesting, the research involved the use of voodoo dolls.
Study participants included 107 married couples who began by completing a survey about their relationship, asking each spouse how much they agreed with statements such as, “I feel satisfied with our relationship.”
Each person was then given a voodoo doll that they were told represented their spouse, along with 51 pins, in order to measure their level of anger in a unique way. At the end of the day, for 21 consecutive days, the participants were advised to insert anywhere from 0 to 51 pins into the doll, according to how angry they were with their spouse – without their spouse present – and to note the number of pins they stuck into the doll.
Each person also used a blood glucose meter to measure glucose levels before eating breakfast and every night before bed during the 21-day period.
Not too surprisingly, it seems the lower their blood glucose levels in the evening, the more pins they stuck into the doll. The association was reportedly present even after taking into account their relationship satisfaction. Regardless, Brad Bushman, lead author of the study and professor of communication and psychology at Ohio State University, noted, “When they had lower blood glucose, they felt angrier and took it out on the dolls representing their spouse.”
In order to measure aggression, they took the study a bit further. After the initial 21 days had been completed, participants blasted their spouse with loud noise through headphones. Those with the lowest glucose levels stuck more pins into the voodoo dolls and blasted their spouse with longer and louder noise blasts.
The researchers noted that the reason low blood sugar makes people more prone to anger and aggression, is that glucose is fuel for the brain. Glucose, at least in part, fuels the energy needed for self-control.
Bushman remarked, “Even though the brain is only 2 percent of our body weight, it consumes about 20 percent of our calories. It is a very demanding organ when it comes to energy.”
For example, if you don’t eat for four or more hours, your blood sugar levels will crash. As the brain cells need energy, and don’t have a backup system, it’s the first to feel the effects, starting with brain fog. The adrenal glands also pump out adrenaline which causes the heart rate to speed up, and as the body is flooded with more stress hormones, it results in that shaky feeling, as well as headaches and anxiety. You can experience anger, aggression and mood swings – which may then be taken out on the unfortunate spouse who happens to be there.
To prevent this unpleasant situation from ruining your love life, by keeping your emotions in check and blood sugar levels stable, keep these tips in mind:
Don’t reach for sugar-filled products. Keeping blood sugar levels stable doesn’t mean feeding your body with sugar. While sugar can fuel the brain, sugar and ingredients like high fructose syrup, cane juice and sucrose, initially make you feel better, but then lead to a crash not longer after consuming them.
Don’t skip meals. If you wait too long between meals, as explained above, it creates a drop in blood sugar, which can even be dangerous in some cases. Don’t go for more than 4 to 5 hours between meals.
Keep healthy snacks readily at hand. High fiber foods can help to prevent dramatic spikes and drops, such as raw, organic almonds or pine nuts. Ground chia seeds are also a good choice and can be added to just about any type of smoothie.
Don’t let low blood sugar turn you into a person that you, and your spouse, may barely recognize. Keeping blood sugar levels stable is a good way to help you have a happy love life!
-The Alternative Daily