My name is Stephen Pennack, I’m a fitness coach and nutritionist. I’ve been invited by the lovely team at Candra to write some articles, centered around nutrition and drinking.
This article is the first of a mini-series delving into everybody’s least favourite part of drinking; the dreaded hangover.
If you have ever wondered why you’ve felt tired when drinking, or how you can slow down the effects of hangovers, then this is for you. But first let us rewind a little to how a hangover occurs in the first place! Of course this starts with consumption of alcohol itself, upon consuming this substance, it enters into our bloodstream via the small intestine. Our bodies then work to remove the alcohol as quickly as possible because it recognises this as a toxic substance.
The amount, strength and how quickly we consume alcohol, size of the person, what we have eaten beforehand, and even our genetics, all affect the concentration of alcohol within our blood and how quickly it gets there.
Our liver takes responsibility in starting the process of converting the alcohol in to something else before it can be removed. It will do this by converting it into another toxin, known as Acetaldehyde, but this takes time! If we consume more alcohol than the body can process, the liver has even more work to do, allowing this acetaldehyde toxin to do more of its nasty work. This toxin will usually lead to the typical hangover symptoms; fatigue, nausea and a headache, amongst others.
This acetaldehyde then needs to be processed further, into acetate, which our bodies can actually use to produce energy. The byproduct of this process ends up being removed as carbon dioxide when we breathe out.
Our hangover symptoms start to materialise when the concentration of alcohol in our blood, (known as Blood Alcohol Concentration or BAC for short) start to fall; this usually begins overnight as you sleep, and thus we awaken the following morning with our hangover!
The severity of the symptoms do appear to be greatest when BAC has fallen close to zero, which is typically 12-14 hours after your first drink.
Interestingly, the atypical ‘Hair of the Dog’ remedy would therefore seem to keep our BAC above zero, thus delaying, but not curing or avoiding the inevitable.
Next up we’ll look at some of the typical hangover symptoms, what exactly causes them and how to avoid them. Keep an eye out for Part 2!
We do not claim to cure, prevent, diagnose, or treat any nutrition-related disease or health condition. Always consult a qualified healthcare professional before changing your diet or medications or exercise routine.
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