Why Does Food Taste Better When You’re Drunk?

Look, I don’t have to be drunk to eat an
entire five-dollar pizza by myself. But it does help! Hey there inebriated epicureans, Jules here
for DNews! If you’re an alcohol-drinking adult, then
there’s a good chance you’ve found yourself shoving greasy, unpalatable food in your mouth
at 2:30 in the AM for reasons that don’t seem too clear the next morning. It’s more than an anecdotal tale; people
tend to eat a lot more food when they’re drunk. A review article of multiple studies on the
effects of alcohol on appetite, published in the journal Current Opinion in Clinical
Nutrition and Metabolic Care, found that quote, “moderate alcohol consumption… leads to
a short-term increase in food intake”. Now, what’s puzzling is that alcohol is
really calorically dense. A gram of pure alcohol contains more calories
than a gram of carbohydrates, or protein, and almost as many as in a gram of fat. Of course, you wouldn’t want to drink pure
alcohol, but even a typical beer has two-thirds as many calories as a small order of McDonald’s
french fries.! It doesn’t make sense for your body to down
multiple beers, multiple orders of “liquid fries,” and then literally, want more fries! Well, as it turns out, it may have less to
do with caloric content, and more to do… with your brain. In a study published in 2017 in Nature Communications,
scientists found that mice ate considerably more after they were injected with alcohol
for three straight days — what they called an “alcohol weekend”. Then, they exposed slices of mouse brains
to alcohol and found that certain neurons fired more often. These particular neurons released a peptide
— a small chain of amino acids — called AgRP. AgRP tells your brain that you are hungry. So, alcohol makes you want to eat regardless
of whether you’re packed full of calories already. Basically, your brain is telling you, “Hey,
I’m STARVING”, even if you totally aren’t. What’s even crazier? You might not even feel full after you satisfy
those cravings. A 2001 study of 7 men and 7 women in the journal
Clinical Endocrinology, found that alcohol consumption lowered production of a hormone
called leptin. Leptin is the reason you feel full and satisfied
after a meal. Without it, you never quite hit that sweet
full feeling that you’re going for. The study posited that alcohol could directly
suppress this hormone. But that is just one part of a complicated
equation. It turns out that when you’re drunk, you
also tend to eat food that you might not normally find appetizing. That’s why you might down eleven street
tacos full of questionable meats. The reason for this is believed to involve
your opiate system. See, one of the reasons alcohol reduces pain,
makes you feel good, and is addictive, is that it has a strong effect on your opiate
system, which is directly involved in pain, reward, and addiction. In particular, alcohol increases the presence
of endogenous opioids. Now, these opioids are believed to be related
to how your brain processes food, and in particular its texture, taste, and overall palatability. A study in the European Journal of Neuroscience
found that in rats, these opioids increase the desire eat more sugary foods. So, if you normally avoid street tacos, you
may not be so averse when you’re drunk. So in the end, being drunk means that you
feel hungrier, don’t end up feeling full, and eat grosser food. And that’s just one small part of the whole
“drunk” experience. Alcohol has a complex relationship with the
body, and many people certainly feel those effects the next day in the form of a hangover. Ironically, eating BEFORE you get drunk is
a good way to avoid a hangover, so… just try not to eat or drink too much. Your body will thank you. So now that you’re hungover, what do you
do!? You can find out some cures science has cooked
up in this episode right here. And do have any more questions about drinking? Well, I’ve got plenty of experience. Answering questions. Let us know down below in the comments and
don’t forget to like and subscribe for more DNews everyday of the week.

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