Why your mood changes when you're hungry
Have you noticed how your mood changes when you’re hungry? Life can get quite busy and at times you may skip a meal or eat much later than expected. When this happens, you experience a drop in your glucose levels, a condition known as hypoglycaemia. New research has found a link between being hungry, which causes a change in glucose levels, and the drop in your mood.
This avoidance behaviour is a sign of stress and anxiety. The rats were avoiding the chamber because they didn't want to experience the stressful experience of hypoglycaemia again.
Researchers from the University of Guelph conducted a study on rats and revealed that the sudden drop in glucose levels from hunger can impact your mood. The rats were either food-deprived or pre-fed. The rats were injected with a glucose metabolism blocker, causing them to experience hypoglycaemia, and were then placed in a specific chamber. On a separate occasion, the rats were injected with water and placed in another chamber. When given a choice of which chamber to enter, they actively avoided the chamber where they experienced hypoglycaemia. This avoidance behaviour is a sign of stress and anxiety. The rats were avoiding the chamber because they didn’t want to experience the stress again.
The researchers tested blood levels of the rats after experiencing hypoglycaemia and found more corticosterone — an indicator of physiological stress. The rats also appeared more sluggish when given the glucose metabolism blocker. But when the animals were given antidepressant medication, the researchers observed that the sluggish behaviour disappeared even though their muscles were still not getting any glucose. The results suggest that the rats experienced stress and depressed moods when they were hypoglycemic.
The results of this study have major implications for understanding and treating depression and anxiety when hunger and nutrition are contributing factors. In this case, eating habits can be included in the treatment plan.
The researchers conclude that while skipping a meal can change your mood temporarily, a more long-term habit of skipping meals can become detrimental to your emotional health.
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