One of my first pieces of advice for people looking to reduce stress in their life is to avoid low blood sugar. That usually means not skipping meals and being sure to eat enough calories and non-starchy carbohydrates (such as fruit) throughout the day. We need to remember that not having enough available glucose (for the brain) will not only induce a stress state (fight or flight response), it will tend to exaggerate the stress response regardless of the trigger. Imagine my delight when I came across a study done by Ohio State University which showed that lower levels of blood sugar were directly correlated to anger levels in married adults (Lashing out at your spouse? Check your blood sugar, Science Daily, April 14, 2014). A most interesting quote from one of the researchers:
"Even those who reported they had good relationships with their spouses were more likely to express anger if their blood glucose levels were lower."
I have to wonder, how many marital arguments are caused by or at least made worse by low blood sugar? How many cases of road rage are caused or made worse by low blood sugar?
What happens when blood sugar drops? The main stress hormone, cortisol, is released from the adrenal glands, as it is after any stressor (stress inducer). Cortisol helps the body maintain homeostasis by facilitating an increase in blood sugar, but there is a cost. High cortisol levels suppress immune function, suppress thyroid function, cause muscle tissue break down, suppress digestive function, and cause weight gain, so you don't want to do things that cause a constant secretion of cortisol. Avoiding drops in blood sugar is a good place to start.