You only need one spoon of beer to become happy
We all knew drinking makes us feel ‘happy’, but just the taste of it? A study conducted by neurologists at the University of Indiana, reveals that sipping a spoon of beer is enough to trigger the release of the happy hormone dopamine in the brain.
The researchers got 49 men to take small sips of beer every 15 minutes, while their brains were scanned for dopamine. The men, averaging 25 years in age, showed a rise in their dopamine levels on having only a spoonful of beer. The most striking aspect of the finding, researchers say, is how the taste of beer alone, without its intoxicating effect, can elicit a dopamine response. While the scientists have tested only beer, the study prompts us to take a look at how alcohol reacts with our bodies, and whether different alcohols work differently in our systems.
Over time, every alcohol has earned its dubious reputation. Gin is accused of making us mean, vodka is blamed for reckless behaviour, tequila is associated with rowdiness and rum is said to mellow us down. These general perceptions, if you ask scientists, are totally unfounded. Studies have established that almost all alcohol is essentially ethyl alcohol, and such perceptions of experiencing ‘different highs’ from different alcohols are mostly psychological; driven by mood, memories, surroundings and other factors.
One reason why different alcohols react differently in your body is the percentage of alcohol your choice of drink has. While beer has around four per cent ABV (Alcohol By Volume), whiskey, rum, gin and vodka are usually ten times stronger, hovering at around 40 per cent ABV. It’s a no-brainer then that if two people were to have the same amounts of whiskey and beer, the dude chugging whiskey would get knocked out faster.
Apart from the speed at which you down your drink, what also matters is how you drink it. Since alcohol is a simple molecule that’s rapidly absorbed into the bloodstream, vodka shots or tequila shots will shoot up your blood alcohol level faster, getting you high in no time.
Once alcohol leaves your mouth, it takes only three minutes for it to reach your brain. While 20 per cent of it is instantly absorbed into the bloodstream through the stomach walls, the remaining 80 per cent is processed slowly through the small intestine and into the bloodstream. As a natural mechanism, your body constantly tries to flush out alcohol from the system. The heart pumps the alcohol-heavy blood through the body till it sends the alcohol to the liver, which breaks it down. The liver, in fact, oxidises more than 90 per cent of it into water and carbon dioxide. The rest is excreted through breath, urine and saliva.
Again, since ABV is the critical factor, your system absorbs vodka faster than it would absorb beer.
Fizzy does it
Alcohol enters your blood stream faster when it’s mixed with a cola or an energy drink. This happens mostly because the fizz causes some distention in your stomach, which in turn speeds up the alcohol’s movement from the stomach into the small intestine, where alcohol is taken in more rapidly. The booze, therefore, ends up entering the blood stream faster.
What you mix with your drink also determines its potency because alcohol is a depressant and a sedative, whereas sugary energy drinks and colas are packed with caffeine, making the combination more of a stimulant.
Alcohol irritates the stomach lining more if you have it on an empty stomach. So before knocking back a few drinks, have a glass of milk or a quick meal that contains some fat. Studies say that since fat digests slowly, it protects your stomach and slows the rate at which alcohol rushes into your system. As for dehydration, a simple rule can offset it: one glass of water for every glass of alcohol.