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Alcohol Flips Brain Into Hungry Mode

New research shows that alcohol turns on the hunger switch in your brain, causing you to feel hungry, and thus eat more than you would if you hadn’t been drinking, according to BBC.com. While the research was done on mice, scientists believe the results can be bridged to humans.

Alcohol’s effect on your brain doesn’t end with hunger. Alcohol slows the functioning of the limbic system of your brain, which controls emotions such as anxiety and fear. The functioning of your prefrontal cortex, a brain region associated with reasoning and judgment, also slows when you drink alcohol and, at high doses, it may cause the neurons in your brain that control your heart rate and breathing to slow to the point that your breathing stops completely, leading to death.

Alcohol-related deaths reached a 35-year high in 2014, when more than 30,700 Americans died from such causes as alcohol poisonings and cirrhosis. This amounted to about 9.6 deaths from alcohol-induced causes per 100,000 people in 2014 — a 37 percent increase since 2002. These numbers do not include deaths from alcohol-related homicides, drunk driving or other accidents.

If you’re a chronic drinker, try exercise as a tool to help you fight cravings and get healthy at the same time. In addition to helping protect your brain, exercising regularly can mitigate alcohol’s adverse effects can greatly reduce your risk of becoming dependent. By replacing drinking with exercise, you may find that the rewarding feeling you get from exercise provides you with a suitable alternative to the rewarding feeling you previously got from alcohol.
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