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“Research supports not making a decision on an empty stomach,” explains Dr. Naidoo. “Ghrelin is a hormone made in the GI tract that affects the brain. It is released when the stomach is empty. In a healthy person, once you eat, the action of this hormone stops.” So far, research on how the presence of ghrelin affects your ability to be rational has mostly been conducted on animals, or extremely small sample sizes of humans. Dr. Naidoo says the results are still worth noting, however.
Most recently a small study with 50 subjects, conducted by Benjamin Vincent, DPhil, from the University of Dundee’s Department of Psychology, found that hunger threw a wrench in participants’ decision-making processes. “Hunger made them impatient and more likely to settle for a small reward that arrives sooner than a larger reward promised at a later date,” says Dr. Naidoo. “Simply said, what the research appears to show us is that we seem to make poorer more reckless choices when we are hungry.
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