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This Is Why Your Hangovers Are Getting Worse As You Get Older
In your twenties you can knock back two martinis, down a glass of champagne, sip someone's beer and drink countless bottles of wine over dinner and not feel hungover the next day. Move into your thirties and the martinis and beer go. Edge towards your forties and you’re swearing off alcohol altogether after a rough night: two glasses of wine. In your fifties, cough medicine makes you hungover. Is it age? And if so, what can you do to defy it? The good news is, it isn’t age. Rather, it is the accumulation of toxins that occurs when we get older making it more challenging to process and eliminate alcohol. The result—the more toxic we are, the more intense the hangover. Consume Less Toxins And Your Body Will Work More Efficiently Putting less toxins in the body is the obvious solution, and that includes alcohol. Put simply, wine is grape juice infused with ethanol (a toxin). For every glass of wine consumed, ethanol makes a hundred passes around the body before it is eliminated. A healthy liver gets rid of one drink per hour; imbibe more than that and you’ll get drunk and risk a hangover.
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What Color Is Your Liver? According to Dr. Eric Braverman, MD, author of A Younger You, a healthy liver is shiny and red, while an alcoholic or fatty liver looks bruised and like rotting foie gras. Braverman asserts that almost all people who consume two drinks a night have a fatty liver. A fatty liver elevates triglyceride levels, impairs glucose regulation and makes it more challenging to clear toxins from the body. If you consistently wake up at 3am, when the liver is most active, you may have a fatty liver or certainly, an over-loaded and over-worked liver. Having alcohol-free days and using nutritional support will help rejuvenate the liver. Boozing At Brunch Vs. Dinner The enzyme responsible for breaking down ethanol is alcohol dehydrogenase. Alcohol dehydrogenase spikes in the evening but is lower at lunchtime. That’s why a glass of rosé at lunch makes you drunker than an evening glass of wine. Genetics also determine how much alcohol dehydrogenase you produce. People of an Asian descent often have less of this enzyme, making them more vulnerable to being drunk faster and more susceptible to a hangover.
Food sensitivities may also contribute to a hangover. If you find yourself feeling worse after beer or champagne, then you may have a Brewer’s yeast sensitivity. Sensitivities are actually acquired, not genetic—so with age, sensitivities increase. The more you expose yourself to a food, the more likely you are to develop a sensitivity to it. A gluten sensitivity, for instance, would make scotch, whisky and vodka-based drinks your kryptonite (most vodkas in the US are grain-based, not gluten-free). I have a gluten sensitivity but love an Old Fashioned: if I spend the night with whiskey, I know I’m not getting out of bed before noon the following day. Additives and sulfites in wine will also impede the liver’s ability to clear and process toxins. French wines have less additives than Italian, Spanish and American wines. These days, I principally stick to a good French wine.
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If you are going to drink, limit the amount of other work the liver has to do! Read more articles by Dana James. Experts, Concerns, and Treatments Mentioned In This Feature: Experts In Our Directory— Dana James, NYC/LA-based Food Coach Concerns— Diet Dull Skin