Sweet control

By • Published: November 26th, 2008
Category: Health in a Heartbeat

When children act up, parents sometimes blame the outlandish behavior on hunger.

Missed mealtimes even seem to cause unruliness in grown-ups.

But does food have something to do with someone’s ability to stay in control? Or, more specifically, what happens when glucose… the cellular fuel derived from our food… falls in short supply?

All brain function relies on a steady supply of glucose. But researchers from Florida State University reviewed a raft of scientific studies and discovered the effort to maintain self-control depletes relatively large amounts of glucose.

They believe it’s possible that self-control suffers when glucose is low or can’t be effectively transported to the brain.

Add alcohol, which has its own way of impairing judgment, and loss of control becomes even more noticeable. The fact that alcohol slashes glucose levels may even help erode our willpower.

For now, it’s just a theory that self-control requires glucose like a Humvee needs gasoline.

But the idea raises potential issues for people trying to quit smoking, cope with stress, control their emotions or refrain from criminal behavior.

It may even have implications for people with diabetes or diseases that affect how the body converts sugar and other food into energy.

Researchers noted that glucose is by far not the only aspect of self-control, and might not even be a factor at all.

Otherwise, the remedy to societal ills from addiction… to shoplifting… would be as close as the nearest candy machine, which is patently absurd… no matter how sweet it sounds.