McAlester News-Capital, McAlester, OK

Features

April 18, 2014

Low blood-sugar levels make for grousing spouses

Serious discussions between spouses shouldn't take place on an empty stomach, a study suggests.

Husbands and wives reported being most unhappy with their spouses when their blood-sugar levels were lowest, usually at night, according to research released this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Missing a meal, dieting or just being hungry may be the reason, researchers said.

Sugar, or glucose, is used by the brain as fuel to help regulate self-control. Without the fuel, it is more difficult for people to control emotions like anger and aggression, researchers said. The findings are among the first to show how low sugar levels in the body may play a part in marital arguments, confrontations and even domestic violence, said Brad Bushman, the lead study author.

"Self-control comes in part from the fuel we give our brains. This is one of the few physiological aspects we can control," said Bushman, a professor of communication and psychology at Ohio State University in Columbus, in a telephone interview. "People who are hungry are often very cranky."

Researchers in the study included 107 married couples who for 21 days had to test their blood-sugar levels before breakfast in the morning and before bed in evening. They were also given voodoo dolls representing their spouses and told to insert as many as 51 pins daily depending on how angry they were with their partner. The researchers were testing aggressive impulses.

Those with the lowest nighttime blood-sugar levels inserted the most pins, while those with the highest glucose levels inserted the least, the study found. Women tended to stick more pins into their husband voodoo doll, but the finding wasn't significant. The authors only found the association for nighttime blood glucose levels as the amount of sugar in the body drops throughout the day, Bushman said.

After 21 days, the couples went into a laboratory where they were told they would compete with their spouse to see who could press a button the fastest to test aggressive behavior. The winners could blast their spouse with a loud noise through headphones. The spouses in reality were playing against a computer, not each other.

The researchers found that those with the lowest average nighttime blood-sugar levels sent louder and longer noises to their spouse no matter how good their relationship was or whether they were male or female.

"If couples have a sensitive topic to discuss, it would be really smart to do it over dinner or better yet after dinner," Bushman said. "They should definitely not do it on an empty stomach."

Low blood sugar can trigger hormones that activate the body's "fight or flight" system and cause people to become more aggressive, anxious and irritable, said Timothy Graham, who wasn't an author of the study.

For families with someone who has diabetes, where swings between highs and lows can occur more often, he suggests counseling. For others, regular, small meals throughout the day may help keep blood sugar levels consistent and help prevent dips that can cause aggression.

"Probably more regular and healthy meals could improve the dynamics of a relationship," Graham, an assistant professor of medicine at the University of Utah in Salt Lake City, said in a telephone interview.

 

1
Text Only | Photo Reprints
Features
Seasonal Content
AP Video
Renewed Violence Taking Toll on Gaza Residents 2 Americans Detained in North Korea Seek Help US Employers Add 209K Jobs, Rate 6.2 Pct House GOP Optimistic About New Border Bill Gaza Truce Unravels; Israel, Hamas Trade Blame Raw: Tunisia Closes Borders With Libya Four Rescued From Crashed Plane Couple Channel Grief Into Soldiers' Retreat WWI Aviation Still Alive at Aerodrome in NY Raw: Rescuers at Taiwan Explosion Scene Raw: Woman Who Faced Death Over Faith in N.H. Clinton Before 9-11: Could Have Killed Bin Laden Netanyahu Vows to Destroy Hamas Tunnels Obama Slams Republicans Over Lawsuit House Leaders Trade Blame for Inaction
NDN Video
Under Armour Launches Biggest Women's Campaign with Inspiring Ad NYPD chokehold death of Eric Garner was homicide: medical examiner Christina Aguilera Pulls a Demi Moore! Man with no arms throws first pitch Chapter Two: Composing for a film in retirement Is Justin Bieber Dating a Model? Guardians of the Galaxy (Trailer) 'Sharknado 2:' Hottest Memes Surfing The Net Snoop Dogg Narrating Animal Footage Is Perfect Raw: Obama Gets Hug From Special Olympian Recapping a Blockbuster MLB Trade Deadline Tigers Acquire David Price - @TheBuzzeronFOX Russell Brand Slams Sean Hannity Over Gaza Conflict Segment Woman's Dive Goes Terribly Wrong Brian Williams Reports on Daughter Allison Williams' 'Peter Pan' Casting News Did Jimmy Fallon Look Up Heidi Klum's Dress? What Drama? Miranda Kerr Poses Topless Plane crashes in San Diego Costco parking lot Justin Bieber Takes To Instagram To Diss Orlando Bloom You Won't Believe the Celeb Cameos in "Sharknado 2"
Parade
Magazine

Click HERE to read all your Parade favorites including Hollywood Wire, Celebrity interviews and photo galleries, Food recipes and cooking tips, Games and lots more.