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Hunger Leads to More Marital Arguments

Update Date: Apr 14, 2014 04:03 PM EDT

Taking it out on your partner? Step aside and have a cookie.

New research reveals that having lower levels of blood sugar makes husbands and wives more aggressive and argumentative.

The 21-day study assessed the levels of blood glucose in married people. The findings suggest that participants' glucose levels, which were measured each night, predicted how angry they would be with their partner that evening.

The findings revealed that people who tended to have lower levels of glucose were more willing to speak to their partners at a higher volume and with more unpleasant noises.

Researchers said the findings suggest that couples could avoid arguments by eating carbohydrates or sugary foods to increase their blood glucose levels.

"People can relate to this idea that when they get hungry, they get cranky," lead author Brad Bushman, a professor of communication and psychology at The Ohio State University, said in a news release.

"We found that being hangry can affect our behavior in a bad way, even in our most intimate relationships," he said.

The latest study involved 107 married couples. Couples were asked to complete relationship satisfaction questionnaires, which asked each spouse how much they agreed with statements like "I feel satisfied with our relationship." Participants were also given a voodoo doll that "represented" their spouse and 51 needles. At the end of each day, for 21 consecutive days, participants were asked to insert 0 to 51 pins in the doll, depending on how angry they were with their spouse. Researchers noted that participants did this alone, without their spouses being present.

"When they had lower blood glucose, they felt angrier and took it out on the dolls representing their spouse," Bushman said. "Even those who reported they had good relationships with their spouses were more likely to express anger if their blood glucose levels were lower."

People are angrier aggressive when their blood sugar is low because glucose is fuel for the brain. Glucose is needed for people to have enough energy to control and repress their anger and aggressive impulses.

"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," Bushman said. "It's simple advice but it works: Before you have a difficult conversation with your spouse, make sure you're not hungry."

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