Sunday, April 20, 2014

Food Intake May Affect Anger In Relationships

We know that the food we eat affects our health and energy levels, but could it also affect our relationships? A new study published this week suggests that low levels of glucose in the blood may increase anger and aggression between spouses.

Teams at Ohio State University, Columbus, the University of Kentucky and the University of North Carolina recruited 107 married couples and equipped them with blood glucose meters, voodoo dolls, and 51 pins to record their glucose and anger levels over time.

Science magazine reports that for 21 days, the couples used the meters to measure their glucose levels each morning before breakfast and each evening before bed. They also assessed how angry they were at their spouse at the end of each day, by recording how many of the 51 pins they stuck into their voodoo dolls just before bed. Additionally, after 21 days, their aggression levels were tested in the lab.

Live Science details the lab activities. 'In the second part of the experiment, the participants competed against their spouses, and the spouse who pressed a button faster once a square turned red on the computer screen won. Each time they won, participants were able to subject their spouses to noises through headphones.' These unpleasant noises included fingernails scratching a chalkboard, ambulance sirens and dentist drills.

The study found that at home and in the lab, spouses with lower evening glucose levels showed more anger and aggression toward their partners. In fact, as Live Science reports, the people in the study with the lowest glucose levels stuck more than twice as many pins in the voodoo doll as the people with the highest glucose levels.

Why is this? The study summary, published online in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), notes, 'Self-control of aggressive impulses requires energy, and much of this energy is provided by glucose derived from the food we eat'.

However, the findings aren't necessarily a huge shock to many in the scientific community. Previous research had identified this link between low glucose levels and poor self-control. Science magazine quotes psychologist David Benton of Swansea University in the UK who notes that the finding are 'not particularly surprising.' He adds, 'Taking a single measure of dynamic response, at different times in different people, will tell us little'.

Surprising or not, study author Brad Bushman summed up his research with some basic marital advice for Live Science readers. 'If you're going to talk about a potentially heated topic, make sure you're not hungry before you have that discussion, because hungry people are often angry people.'

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For more information, please visit:
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS)

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