If you’ve ever cracked open a cold one, took a giant sip of that delicious golden elixir, and thought to yourself, “Goddamn. Beer makes me really happy,” you were absolutely right. Beer does make you happy, and it’s not just the alcohol telling you that.
According to a team of German scientists (who else?), beer actually lifts your mood and makes you feel all warm and fuzzy on the inside, because it stimulates the reward center of your brain and causes it to release a nice rush of the feel-good hormone dopamine.
The study, published in journal Scientific Reports, found that beer contains a component called hordenine, which acts specifically on the dopamine D2 receptor, which is what makes us feel super happy.
And to illustrate just how dopamine works, imagine this scenario: Your favorite food in the whole world is cheesecake, and for the first time in two months, you take a bite of cheesecake. Can you imagine how good it tastes at that moment? It almost makes your eyes roll back into your head, it’s that good.
That, my friends, is dopamine. It’s what makes you feel good when you eat your favorite food, or have sex with someone really hot for the first time.
“It came as a bit of surprise that a substance in beer activates the dopamine D2 receptor, especially as we were not specifically looking at stimulant foodstuffs,” says Dr. Monika Pischetsrieder, of the Friedrich-Alexander-Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg.
The D2 receptor is also the very same one that makes it hard to stop after one drink, or stop eating after just one or two Oreos. Scientists call this I-can’t-stop-because-it-feels-too-good feeling ‘hedonic hunger,’ or the desire to eat for the sake of pleasure instead of eating to satisfy a biological need.
Back to the study: The researchers looked at which substances found in foods activate the D2 receptor, and found that hordenine, which, again, is found in beer, activates the receptor the most.
In fact, it was discovered that hordenine can actually activate the receptor in such a way that it could make you feel even better than dopamine itself does. Beer is better than our own biological reward system! Who knew?
Plus, a different study found that beer may actually be better at relieving pain than Tylenol, which is incredible. Beer is amazing. Thank you, beer Gods.
Well, I guess beer must be the answer to all of our problems. Feeling down? Have a beer! Mild headache? Screw painkillers, just crack open a brewski, and you'll be all better in no time.