25 Jan How Alcohol Affects Your Body
In modern business, it has become customary to be involved in social drinking. AS much as you may enjoy it or utterly hate it, the simple fact is that in order to network, we have to be at least exposed to a fair bit of social drinking and alcohol consumption in general.
It doesn’t matter how hard you are sticking to your diet or not, being surrounded by your clients, mentors, and colleagues that are consuming relatively large quantities of alcohol can be tempting. Especially when you come t find out that it is looked down upon in many cultures to not partake in the social drinking correlated with business.
The purpose of this blog was to help you understand how alcohol affects you from a standpoint of metabolism and of course, recovery. At the end of the day, it’s not always terrible to consume a bit of alcohol. By and large, it’s not the healthiest thing to do, but there are ways to avoid the huge potholes in your healthy diet track when going out for a drink or two.
First, it’s important to know how alcohol is made. Most of the time, it is fermented. Whether it is grains or some sorts of fruits. The fermentation process creates sugar alcohols which of course have to be metabolized somewhat by the body and can still have a caloric impact – Usually about 7 calories per gram. Purer alcohols are distilled after fermentation which means that many of the impurities are removed, that’s why I recommend drinking a pure form of vodka whenever possible. It has the least impact in terms of alcohol related byproducts in the body.
But what happens when you drink alcohol that can make you have a hangover or feel less productive?
It starts in the mouth. Enzymes in your mouth immediately begin breaking down alcohol into a highly toxic chemical called Acetaldehyde. This chemical is quit honestly poison to the body, and it is not the poison that makes you enjoy the feeling of being buzzed, that is actually a neurological effect caused by the ethanol itself. The acetaldehyde is purely a by product that the body has to clean up… and it is some seriously nasty stuff.
The liver works hard to clean up the acetaldehyde but it can only work so fast as stores of something called glutathione attack the acetaldehyde and do a pretty good job of neutralizing it. The problem is that this dramatically taxes the liver and leaves the body in a state of toxicity because it is busy dealing with the toxin at hand, acetaldehyde. This is one of the reasons why you can feel so toxic the day after a hangover.
As for the headaches that are usually caused after a night of drinking that often has to do with the inhibition of something called vasopressin, which regulates how much you urinate. If vasopressin is suppressed, then your kidneys send water directly to be excreted rather than absorbing back into the body where it’s often needed. This leads to a dehydration effect which can increase your blood pressure and give you that pounding headache first thing in the morning.
So with all this said, how can you rightfully approach your night of drinking with colleagues without slowing down your performance the next day? The answer lies mostly in your choice of alcohol. The purer the alcohol and the more distillation that it has gone through means that there are less components that will convert to acetaldehyde but also likely contain less congeners which your body also has to work hard to metabolize. This means drinks like vodka and gin are going to be your safest bet. In fact, I even made a little one-page guide that will help you determine exactly what kinds of alcohols you should opt for here.
Also, stick to type of alcoholic beverage. The more kinds of alcohol that you introduce, the more your body has to kick into overdrive to reevaluate what is going on. Imagine working on a big proposal and then finding out that you’re no longer designing a proposal for one company, but for two companies, with two totally separate values. You’d have to redo the entire thing! Your body works the same way. Keep it to one kind of drink, and make it a Vodka or Gin, preferably with some water.
P.S. I made a video on this topic too if you want to take a look.