What alcohol is doing to your body
Women's unique vulnerability to alcohol and tips for minimizing its impact, including mocktail recipes.
Listen to our roundup here:
4:25 min listen - check out the audio version here.
Why women need to be extra careful about alcohol
Myth or fact: Women are more susceptible than men to alcohol’s repercussions.
There are several (scientific) reasons for this. First and foremost, we can thank physiological differences in our chemistry and body structure. In comparison to men, women’s bodies contain proportionately less water and more fat. Reason being? Most likely, for childbearing! At any rate, because water dilutes alcohol and fat retains it, women’s organs are exposed to higher concentrations of alcohol—for longer periods of time.
Secondly, women have less alcohol dehydrogenase. Dehy—what? Dehydrogenase. This is an enzyme that breaks down alcohol before it reaches the bloodstream. Dose for dose, women’s blood alcohol levels will almost always be higher than men’s. As a result, one drink for a woman is roughly equivalent to two drinks for a man.
Fascinating, right? If you’re going to enjoy a cocktail, here are some tips to minimize the impact.
- It’s true what they say: have a glass of water between drinks! This gives your liver time to metabolize the alcohol. Spacing out your drinks is key.
- It’s also true what they say: don’t drink on an empty stomach. Drinking without eating will only increase the rate at which alcohol is metabolized in your body. If possible, focus on healthy fats—olives, nuts, avocado, etc.—to keep blood sugar stable.
- Consider a N-acetyl cysteine (NAC) supplement (always work with a doctor before supplementing). It’s a useful nutrient for liver support. NAC increases your body’s ability to produce glutathione, an antioxidant that can reduce hangovers. Take your dosage about 30 minutes before your first drink.
- Take a B-complex supplement. Like NAC, you’ll want to take your B-complex before consuming alcohol. Vitamins B1, B6, and B12 help boost your body’s metabolism and replace the B vitamins lost during drinking.
- The following morning, skip the coffee. Instead, reach for a glass of water mixed with coconut water, lemon juice, and a few pinches of Himalayan salt. The potassium and vitamin C will help replenish electrolytes and aid in rehydration.
- When it comes to eating breakfast, aim for blood sugar balance. Alcohol can lower your blood glucose levels overnight, so prioritize a nourishing breakfast of complex carbs, protein, healthy fats, and fiber (hello, Beeya seeds!).
Podcast: What alcohol does to your body, brain, and health
Listen to Dr. Andrew Huberman discuss all-things alcohol: its effects on the brain and body, the science behind hangovers, and more. From inflammation and stress—to cancer risk and hormone imbalance—drinking causes a downward chain of reactions. In pursuit of your mental and physical goals, consider the power of minimal alcohol consumption.
Stay social with a mocktail
Sometimes we want to be social without dealing with the repercussions of a hangover. In this situation, we love a mocktail. It can be as simple as club soda with a dash of pomegranate juice and lime, or even a fancy sangria mocktail. Check out our favorite recipe here.
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