Drinking Alcohol or Sugary Drinks Make Us Thirsty, Here’s Why

In a study published in Cell Metabolism, research indicated the liver hormone FGF21, or fibroblast growth factor 21, to be responsible for the brain’s actions to increase water intake to prevent dehydration.

Researchers from the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center (UT Southwestern) have been studying FGF21 for a long time, with earlier research pointing out the hormone’s ability to act using the brain’s reward pathway to control the need for sugar and alcohol in favor of drinking water.

“We knew that exposure to alcohol or sugar turns on production of FGF21 in the liver. What we now show is that this hormone then travels in the blood to a specific part of the brain, the hypothalamus, to stimulate thirst, thereby preventing dehydration,” explained Dr. Steven Kliewer, a professor at UT Southwestern. “Unexpectedly, FGF21 works through a new pathway that is independent of the classical renin-angiotensin-aldosterone thirst pathway in the kidneys.”

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