Tuesday, October 4

How low blood sugar can make you a bad person

It’s past noon at the office, you’re in a foul mood. You feel dizzy, you can’t focus on work and you want to go to the chocolate machine. Then the phone rings for the third time in a minute, you pick up angrily and yell into the receiver “Yes, tell me!”, leaving the person on the other end frightened.

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It is likely that you have suffered an episode of reactive hypoglycemia, or more colloquially a low blood sugar, which has temporarily turned you into a basilisk. In English we speak of being “hangry”, a play on words between hungry (hungry) and angry (wrathful).

The connection between blood sugar levels and mood has long been known, though it’s becoming apparent that the levels themselves matter less than the fluctuations. Having a bad temper and even suffering from anxiety and depression may be related, at least in part, to these ups and downs. In turn, these spikes and crashes in blood sugar depend on what we eat, and how well our body is at balancing levels.

Every time we eat a carbohydrate food (starch or sugar), it is quickly digested in our intestines and passes into the blood as glucose, a fuel that all cells in the body can use. However, too much glucose in the blood is dangerous. A well-known hormone called insulin is responsible for removing glucose from the blood and storing it in the cells, especially in the muscles and in the liver.

But sometimes, when someone eats a large amount of sugar all at once, the insulin does its job too well and goes into overdrive, causing glucose levels to plummet below normal within an hour. This has been observed to occur with sugar much more than with starch. The brain doesn’t get enough nourishment, and the result is confusion, dizziness, irritation, headaches, cravings for sweets, and yelling at the phone. This is the reactive hypoglycemia.

High peaks and deep valleys of glucose

Not everyone experiences reactive hypoglycemia the same way. People with prediabetes or obesity, that is, with insulin resistance, have steepest peaks and valleys and they are more likely to suffer from these sugar crashes. This is logical because your body no longer regulates glucose levels well.

Dizziness and irritability due to low glucose levels are understandable, but do we become different people, or rather, worse people? To answer these questions, the decisions of the judges in charge of granting parole to offenders were studied. As the day went on, they granted fewer and fewer permits until it was almost zero, but after lunch, the number of liberties granted rose to 65%.

This is explained because glucose levels, especially when they are low, affect something called emotional self-regulation. It is the ability of our brain to control its impulses and emotions. Suffering low blood sugar can, at least in part, explain aggressive, impulsive, or poorly thought out behaviors.

Sugar, anxiety food

In the long run, this glucose imbalance can affect our mental health. In the Whitehall II studio With British officials for three decades and thousands of people, it was found that people who consumed more sugar in the form of soft drinks had a higher risk of depression and anxiety.

Excessive consumption of sugar also decreases neuroplasticity, that is, the brain’s ability to adapt to changes in the environment. This in turn triggers addictive behaviors (applicable to drugs, sweets, Instagram or Netflix, among other things), an increase in stress, fear, anxiety and, again, depression, since all these symptoms share circuits in our brain.

On the contrary, people who eat unprocessed foods, with less sugar in their diet, suffer less risk of mental illness. Our body is, after all, like any other system, be it the weather or the stock market: ups and downs are a sign that something is not right.

* Darío Pescador is editor and director of the quo magazine and author of the book your best self Posted by Oberon.

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