The hunger phenomenon: Researchers find an explanation for the hunger pangs

The hunger phenomenon: Researchers find an explanation for the hunger pangs

Hunger puts you in a bad mood. why is that? Now researchers are finally finding an explanation for why some people are “starving.”

“Hangry” is a combination of the English terms “hungry” and “angry” and is often used as an excuse if you haven’t eaten for a long time and are therefore very irritable about your surroundings. British and Austrian researchers say the condition is now no excuse. They got to the bottom of the phenomenon outside of laboratory conditions for the first time, and so there is a logical explanation for the pending case.

64 adults reported feeling hungry for 28 days

A research team from Britain’s Anglia Ruskin University and Karl Landsteiner University of Health Sciences in Austria recruited 64 adult men and women for their study. Participants were now asked to report their feelings and hunger five times a day on a smartphone app. Since they can do this at work or at home, data collection can be done relatively correctly in everyday life. The study results were recently published in the journal PLOS ONE.1

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Hunger makes you angry and irritable – but also happy

After evaluating the data, it became more than clear: Hunger causes severe mood swings. Three emotions prevailed in the subjects: anger, irritability, and joy. “By following people in their daily lives, we found that hunger is associated with anger, irritability and pleasure,” the university said in a statement.2 The latter is less surprising than you might think, because the prospect of eating your favorite meal or visiting a restaurant can definitely put you in a good mood. However, according to the researchers, negative emotions remained prevalent.

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What is the interpretation of researchers about the state of hunger?

“There is a physiological explanation for why some people get angry, that is, go hungry, when they are hungry,” Professor Kristen Lee told the Cleveland Clinic.3 “If you haven’t eaten in a while, your blood sugar levels drop.” This triggers a series of hormones, including cortisol (the stress hormone) and adrenaline (the fight or flight hormone). This release can provoke aggression in some people. This also explains why hungry children do worse at school or why staff become less productive if they do not eat.

Also interesting: From endorphins to somatropins – how hormones affect our bodies

What can we learn from it

The small study is important to the participating researchers because the findings can help mitigate negative emotions. By realizing that we are angry because we are hungry, the condition loses its momentum. Lead author Viren Swami concludes that “increasing awareness of hunger may reduce the likelihood that hunger will lead to negative emotions.” So there is a medical explanation for hunger. However, this condition is not harmful to health. Understanding the mechanism behind this is the best way to manage hunger-induced irritability.


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