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Revealed: Here's why beer makes you feel good

The feel-good effect caused by neurotransmitter dopamine stimulates brain's reward centre in the brain where the D2 receptor is located

Press Trust of India  |  Berlin 

Representative image (Photo: Reuters)
Representative image (Photo: Reuters)

Drinking can lift your as it contains an ingredient that stimulates the brain's reward centre and makes people feel good, scientists have found.

Some foods make us feel good, which is why we cannot stop eating when we have had enough.

Scientists call this hedonic hunger - the drive to eat for pleasure rather than to satisfy an actual biological need.

This feel-good effect is caused by the neurotransmitter - tempting foods stimulate the reward centre in the brain where the D2 receptor is located.

Researchers from the Friedrich-Alexander-Universitat Erlangen-Nurnberg (FAU) in investigated whether there are special substances in foods that activate the D2 receptor in the same way as dopamine.

The team used a virtual screening approach - a process that analyses food components in a computer simulation rather than in the laboratory.

The scientists set up a of 13,000 molecules which are present in foods to find those molecules that fit the dopamine D2 receptor.

The system was then used to identify which molecules could interact with the dopamine D2 receptor; these might be present in synthetic substances already known to interact with the receptor, such as medicines for treating Parkinson's and schizophrenia, or which might be candidates for interaction due to the three-dimensional structure of the receptor.

In the end, 17 of the original 13,000 options were selected and these were analysed in the laboratory.

The most promising results were obtained for hordenine, a substance present in malted barley and

"It came as a bit of surprise that a substance in activates the dopamine D2 receptor, especially as we were not specifically looking at stimulant foodstuffs," said Monika Pischetsrieder, professor at FAU.

Just like dopamine, hordenine stimulates the dopamine D2 receptor, however it uses a different signalling pathway.

In contrast with dopamine, hordenine activates the receptor solely through G proteins, potentially leading to a more prolonged effect on the reward centre of the brain.

The team is now investigating whether hordenine levels in beer are sufficient to have a significant effect on the reward centre.

The results indicate that hordenine may well contribute to the mood-boosting effect of beer.

First Published: Thu, September 28 2017. 20:40 IST