The morning after the night before can leave one feeling a bit, a lot worse for wear. As humans, a mega-dose of aspirin and a little peace and quiet, can aid the recovery process.
But what if you’re a fruit bat that accidently took a few bites too many of an overripe fig ?
No aspirin and no off button
Alcohol intoxication is a potential health hazard for fruit eating bats, since trace amounts of alcohol are found in ripe fruit and ripe fruit is the main item on their menu. A little too much alcohol following a fruity feast, can easily happen. Just like humans, too much alcohol can leave a bat feeling woozy.
The high blood levels of alcohol make getting home risky business – both predators and obstacles pose risks. And when you arrive back at the cave, sleeping it off can be problematic.
Bats don’t have access to aspirin and silencing a thousand shrieking neighbours is not an option. The continuous sonic waves of buzzing, are likely to drive the drunk fruit bat, batty.
The bat hangover cure
So what does the intoxicated bat do ?
It gets the munchies and reaches for another of mother nature’s hangover cures, a spoonful of sugar – specifically the fruit sugar, fructose.
This is the finding of a team of researchers from Ben-Gurion University. The team discovered that intoxicated bats preferentially reach into the fructose sugar bowl.
Glucose doesn’t do the trick. The ability to take the kick out of alcohol is a fructose effect. Fructose is the sugar found in fruits and honey.
Fructose is THE MOLECULE
The liver regards fructose as “dangerous”, so when both alcohol and fructose occur in the liver simultaneously, the liver shifts some of its resources towards the breakdown of fructose. Doing two things at the same time is never easy, something always “suffers” when you multi task.
In this case, the alcohol breakdown slows down, which means the formation of acetylaldehyde is reduced. It is the acetylaldehyde which is responsible for making you feel really awful following a drinking spree, so the slow down in its formation, leads to a marginal improvement in how you feel.
A spoonful of honey calms the babalas
Honey on toast is a traditional hangover “cure”. As with many “old wives tales” there is a little bit of science behind this one.
So next time you find yourself trying to manage a hangover – do what the bats do, take in a little fruit sugar.Bats get the munchies too! press release from Society for Experimental Society appearing on EurekAlert.
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