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Low blood sugar linked to intimate partner violence
Posted in Anger, Mental Health, Relationships - 0 Comments

intimate partner violence

As children, we have been told to stay away from sugar. Donuts, candy, cookies and other sweets can make us gain weight, develop cavities and increase our risk for diabetes. The average American consumes 156 pounds of added sugar per year. Sugar is not just in typical junk food, but is also hiding in other foods such as ketchup, peanut butter, fruit and any type of carbohydrate, including bread and crackers, as carbohydrates break down into sugar.

Today, many people are trying to cut down on sugar in their diets. Too much sugar is dangerous, but too little sugar, known as hypoglycemia, is also dangerous. Our bodies need sugar (glucose) for energy to survive. Without enough sugar, we become drowsy and our bodies eventually can shut down and go into a hypoglycemic coma. Interestingly, a recent study has been released that compares the amount of sugar consumed in married couples and the correlation with domestic violence among these couples.

Intimate partner violence occurs around the world. In some developing countries it is, unfortunately, acceptable, but in most Western countries this behavior is not tolerated although it still occurs. There is a fine line between love and hate, and often that line becomes crossed when two partners become obsessed with each other to the point of acting out with violence.

Hunger can lead to anger

A study released in 2014 compared the glucose levels in couples, and results showed that individuals with lower glucose levels reacted with more violence then those with normal or high glucose levels.

“For 21 days, glucose levels were measured in 107 married couples. To measure aggressive impulses, each evening participants stuck between 0 and 51 pins into a voodoo doll that represented their spouse, depending how angry they were with their spouse. To measure aggression, participants competed against their spouse on a 25-trial task in which the winner blasted the loser with loud noise through headphones. As expected, the lower the level of glucose in the blood, the greater number of pins participants stuck into the voodoo doll, and the higher intensity and longer duration of noise participants set for their spouse,” according to the study.

One possible theory that describes this correlation is based on the slang term “hangry” (hungry + angry). It is known that many people become cranky when they do not eat and are hungry. This is most likely due to the fact that low blood sugar leads to low energy. With low energy, it is more difficult to concentrate and easier to feel on edge.

Self-control requires energy

Another proposed theory is that self-control is required to maintain anger and control impulses. This self-control is wired in the brain, and the brain requires energy in the form of glucose. In fact, the brain is an essential organ in the body that requires approximately 20 percent of our total calories consumed. When the body is depleted of glucose, other organs, specifically muscle and bone, break down their components so glucose can be released in the rest of the body. In the absence of glucose, it is more difficult to maintain self-control because the body is depleted of energy. As a result, anger and impulse behavior can control the mind and body, and cause aggressive behavior among couples.

Just as there is a very fine line between love and hate, there is also a fine line between too much sugar and not enough sugar. It is important to consume enough foods with sugar to maintain a good balance of energy. Healthy foods high in sugar are fruits and any type of carbohydrate such as bread, pasta and rice. It is not necessary to add sugar to your daily snacks or binge on unhealthy types of sugary snacks, such as cookies, cakes and other sweets, to maintain glucose homeostasis.

The Sovereign Health Group is a leading treatment group with locations across the United States that serves people with addiction, mental health diseases and co-occurring disorders. Our location in Chandler, Arizona provides aide specifically for women dealing with these problems and offers additional assistance with trauma. For information about our events and webinars, call our 24/7 helpline.

About the author

Kristen Fuller, M.D., is a senior staff writer at the Sovereign Health Group and enjoys writing about evidence-based topics in the cutting-edge world of medicine. She is a physician and author, who also teaches, practices medicine in the urgent care setting and contributes to medicine board education. She is also an outdoor and dog enthusiast. For more information and other inquiries about this article, contact the author at

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