According to Dr. Richard Nahas, hangovers are unpleasant. Despite knowing the consequences of “one too many” alcoholic drinks, people still do it and ruin the next day with a hangover. Let’s figure out how a hangover affects your body and how you may avoid it.
- Your liver can’t keep up – Your liver does a lot of heavy lifting when you drink alcohol. Your liver creates an enzyme, dehydrogenase (ADH). This enzyme converts alcohol to a toxic substance, acetaldehyde. After that, aldehyde dehydrogenase (ALDH), another enzyme converts acetaldehyde into acetate, a non-toxic substance.
When you drink alcohol at a slow pace, your liver can do this two-step conversion pretty quickly and makes your body discharge the acetate in the form of urine or sweat. However, when you have alcoholic beverages with a high percentage of alcohol or chug down beer bottles too quickly, your liver can’t keep up. The toxic acetaldehyde builds up in your body and causes the symptoms of a hangover.
- Alcohol inflammation and withdrawal – Research shows that drinking too much may trigger a drastic response from your immune system and release chemicals called cytokines in your body. Increased levels of cytokines affect your memory and ability to concentrate on your surroundings. It also worsens headaches, nausea, tiredness, chills and other symptoms of a hangover.
The flood of cytokines is an inflammatory response that’s similar to what your body does during an infection. It is directly linked to your gut microbiome. Excess alcohol may spike the number of pro-inflammatory bacteria in your gut and stimulate them to release all kinds of toxins. Excess alcohol can also lower the number of good bacteria in the gut.
Researchers and experts also believe that certain symptoms of a hangover, including anxiety, sweating, increased heart rate and chills are the effects of alcohol withdrawal. It’s your nervous system trying to re-adjust to the sudden fall of blood alcohol in your body.
- Avoiding a hangover – The best way to avoid hangovers is to avoid fizzy alcoholic drinks like champagne and alcoholic drinks like brandy, whiskey, bourbon, or red wine with high concentrations of alcohol. If you need to have them for social obligation, you can sip on a glass very slowly throughout the event.
Even if you’re drinking a few bottles or cans of beer, don’t drink them too quickly. Allow your liver to function properly and steadily flush out toxic substances from your body while keeping your blood alcohol level low. Don’t drink on an empty stomach either. Eat something before and while drinking alcohol. That way the rate of alcohol absorption into the bloodstream slows down.
Dr. Richard Nahas suggests that you try to practice a bit more self-control at parties and social gatherings so that you don’t ruin the next day for yourself. Don’t drink on an empty stomach. Even if you do, make sure to slow down instead of chugging bottles or downing multiple shots of vodka within a short time.