I have to admit, I wasn’t fun to live with when anyone got between me and food when I was hungry. How about you? Do you get angry? If so blame your caveman within. He or she is talking to you.
Where does this anger come from? And why doesn’t everyone get like I did?
The Side Effect of My Type of Hunger
Everything you eat – carbohydrates and proteins – are converted through digestion into simple sugars (such as glucose). there is a proviso: IF you are not in ketosis!
These nutrients enter your bloodstream, then they are distributed to your organs and tissues and consumed as fuel.
Obviously, the amount of these nutrients circulating in your bloodstream start to drop if not replenished.
Sufficiently low blood-glucose levels will send a signal to your brain which interprets it as (in caveman terms) a life-threatening situation.
Unlike most organs and tissues in your body which can use a variety of nutrients to keep functioning, your brain is critically dependent on a little glucose to keep on thinking about sabre toothed tigers. If you are in ketosis, it will ‘mainline’ on ketones, converted from fat. But, as I discovered, getting into ketosis means getting off the ‘fast action’ sugars and carbs that supply an excess of glucose.
I found it quite disconcerting. My normal easy going nature became quite agressive, and I had trouble concentrating. The worst aspect of it was that i thought this was normal.
This diagram from Amanda Saltis’ article demonstrates the process.
More ways of seeing if you are like me.
Besides a drop in blood-glucose concentrations, another reason people can become hangry is the glucose counter-regulatory response. Let me explain.
When blood-glucose levels drop to a certain threshold, the brain sends instructions to several organs in your body to synthesise and release hormones. These hormones increase the amount of glucose in your bloodstream.
There are four main glucose counter-regulatory hormones.
(a) Growth hormone from the pituitary gland situated deep in the brain;
(b) Glucagon from the pancreas;
(c) Adrenaline, which is sometimes called epinephrine,
(d) Cortisol, which are both from the adrenal glands.
These last two glucose counter-regulatory hormones are stress hormones. They are are released into your bloodstream in many stressful situations, independent of the physical stress of low blood-glucose levels.
Our ‘fight or flight’response releases Adrenaline. It is one of the major hormones released into our bloodstream in response to a sudden scare, such as when we see, hear or even think something that threatens our safety.
The flood of adrenaline you get during the glucose counter-regulatory response promotes a similar response.
Nature and nurture
Hunger is also linked to anger becasue, believe it or not, both are controlled by the same genes. The product of one such gene is neuropeptide Y. It’s a natural brain chemical released into the brain when you are hungry.
It stimulates voracious feeding behaviours by acting on a variety of receptors in the brain, including one called the Y1 receptor.
Besides acting in the brain to control hunger, neuropeptide Y and the Y1 receptor also regulate anger or aggression. So people with high levels of neuropeptide Y in their cerebrospinal fluid may also show high levels of impulse aggression.
As you can see, there are several pathways that made me you prone to anger when I was hungry. Angry hunger is surely a survival mechanism that has served humans and other animals well.
We have to admit that if hungry organisms (us) stood back and graciously let others eat before us, our species probably wouldn’t be here today.
While many physical factors contribute to angry hunger, psychosocial factors also have a role. Culture influences whether you express verbal aggression directly or indirectly, for instance.
And as we are all different across all of these factors, it’s little wonder there are differences in how angry people seem to get when they’re hungry.
Dealing with hungry anger.
The easiest way to handle hunger-anger would seem to be to eat something before you get too hungry. While you may yearn for quick-fix foods, (foods that keep you in the acid hunger cycle), these foods generally induce large rises in blood-glucose levels that come crashing down fast. Think breads, and sugars, now known to be highly addictive, creating addict-like responses.
￼Ultimately, they may leave you feeling angrier and hungrier. It was only when I went ‘cold turkey’ with carbs and sugars that my hunger-anger ceased, I stopped scanning the table for other people’s leftovers, and getting angry.
In these cases, it can help to remember that, with time, our glucose counter-regulatory response will kick in and our blood-glucose levels will stabilise.
Ketones help keep my hunger under control because my brain can use ketones in place of glucose for fuel. In fact ketones are my natural ancestral brain food! Am I always in ketosis? As long as I limit my addictive carbs and sugars. Yes, I have a ketone tester which tells me immediately whether I am in ketosis or not. I am never half in ketosis, so I am either an addict to hunger-anger, or I am not.
And.. like any addict, I really didn’t understand my addictive state. If you’d like to know more about my diet turnaround, here’s a link to our New Alkaline Diet and Defence Program.
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