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Hanger (Hunger Plus Anger) Explained By Science

Hanger is now a thing – it can be explained in terms of the physiology of the human body. Ever wondered how only some people get “hangry” (angry when hungry), and why does it even happen? Apparently, it has to do with brain and its appetite for sugar.


Food is a basic need; our body is regulated in such a way that it generates certain reactions when faced with a lack thereof. This includes the change in emotional state when hungry. People often get the tendency to give in to short temper when hungry: they become hangry. Why is this so?


After consuming food, it gets digested and absorbed by body cells. The end products of digestion include simple sugars, among which is glucose. After long periods gone without food, the glucose decreases in amount in the blood. The brain is tuned to notice this change once it hits a certain minimum; it is the organ that is extremely dependent upon the nutrient to function properly.

The lack of sugar will affect the brain such that, for instance, one might find it hard to concentrate. Another effect entails difficulty in behaving within socially acceptable norms (babies are probably the best examples of this phenomenon, right?!). That is why some people easily snap at others when hungry.

Now, if the blood glucose level goes beyond a certain threshold, specific hormones are secreted from various organs to increase the amount of glucose in the bloodstream. These hormones include the growth hormone, glucagon, and adrenaline, as well as cortisol. The latter two are known as the stress hormones that are generally released during stressful situations, and they might trigger one to give responses like snapping at someone in anger.

The link between the two – hunger and anger – might also be genetic. The gene regulating both produces a chemical called neuropeptide Y which is released during hunger and anger; it stimulates brain receptors thereby triggering voracious feeding behaviours, and it is found in high concentrations in people showing high levels of impulse aggression. This is how hunger and anger might be connected.

Hanger is also described as a survival mechanism: hunger needs to be satiated for living things to continue living, and thus the latter need triggers to feed themselves to survive in this cruel world.

Next time someone who is hungry snaps at you, throw food at them to calm them down! It’s not completely their fault!


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