Banish the nagging guilt you feel as you sip your post-work pint. You’re not undoing all the hard work you’ve put into the gym, and life is going to get no worse after a tipple or two. In fact, scientists in Germany have found the best justification for Oktoberfest we’ve ever heard – beer really does make you happier.
A study conducted in the Friedrich-Alexander-Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg (or FAU, if you’ve already had a couple) tested 13,000 different food components to find out which effectively stimulated the brain’s reward centre. Hordeline, the chemical found in malted barley, topped the list.
Even though beer is a depressant and not a stimulant, the presence of hordeline activates the dopamine D2 receptor in the brain. When activated, this releases a batch of feel-good hormones into the body, encouraging happiness in the same way as chocolate or sex.
Inducing happiness with food and drink is a good thing – in moderation. The dopamine release drives what scientists call