Alcohol has been around since the dawn of civilization. In fact, many theories point to the advent of agriculture as not a way to feed, but a way to ferment and be merry. In the Epic of Gilgamesh, a primitive man is transformed into an absolute gentleman upon imbibe-ment of ancient beer, putting organized drinking (including regulations) at around 3000 BC. Noah of the Bible was no sloucher himself. The first thing he ostensibly did after climbing off his boat was to build a handsome vineyard. Nowadays, alcohol is an almost essential part of social interactions, events, business trades, celebrations and gifts.
However, everyone who has taken a sip knows it’s not all sparkles and rainbows. The green death that befalls many of us the following day can be rather debilitating. For those putting down the party plans, it’s easy for the drinks to keep flowing upon its culmination and the night to end in more of a blur than anticipated and an Uber ride home. So how do we possibly stave off paying the iron price come dawn?
First, we should look at what exactly causes your body to act in such an abhorrent fashion. Come at me, science! Unfortunately, the topic is still rather debated by medical professionals. What we do know is that alcohol is a diuretic, as in it causes your kidneys to purge more often and your runs to the toilet more frequent, which in turn causes dehydration. Additionally, metabolizing alcohol creates a chemical called acetaldehyde, a nasty substance that turns to acetic acid, which decreases function of your two favorite bodily filters.
Symptoms are not only caused by thirst and cellular damage. Alcohol is an addictive substance that causes withdrawal signs in Bacchanalian brothers who don’t want to stop the party. Shakes, anxiety and mood disorders are more associated with not having alcohol in your system rather than the opposite. For those in deep, hair of the dog (or slipping in a morning glass, for those who are unfamiliar) might not seem like the worst idea – given it is in no way better for your physical health. After all, a Bloody Mary certainly tastes like breakfast. But in this state, it is best to seek professional help.
What is termed as alcohol addiction is probably more common than you think. According to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, 40% of all alcohol drinkers report binge drinking as part of their habits in a given month. Newer findings point out that Americans generally underreport their trips to the bar, with probably about 30 million adults binge drinking at least once week. That’s more than the population of every state, excluding California.
If you feel like you have a serious problem, drughelpline.org offers resources where people can seek help. We always advise drinking responsibility. It’s the classy thing to do.
Darker liquids are worse than clear ones
While you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, you should definitely judge a drink by its color. Darker spirits, such as whiskey, rum or red wine, will have you feeling the beat of the tambourine far more than clear liquids, such as vodka. Sorry, bourbon lovers, we drink at our peril. This is due to a high concentration of something called congeners that get metabolized into formaldehyde. And while the substance is great for preserving dead frogs in a jar, it is a highly toxic substance to have floating around your veins.
Snacking on protein
One of the worst things you can do is drink on an empty stomach. Party planners should do their guests a favor and spread food options around the room every time people are throwing back the champagne. And while any food will do the trick, protein-rich munchables are highly suggested as they take a relatively long time to digest. Nuts, meat and cheese keep your stomach busy, which in turn keeps your pyloric valve closed longer, stopping flow from your stomach into your intestine where most of the alcohol is absorbed. Eating both slows down the process and dilutes the booze, keeping you from being red-eyed and bushy-tongued come morning.
For those looking to avoid paying the high cost of low living, it might do to put down the beer and the bubbly. While beer may have less alcohol content than some of its cousins, carbonation causes your body to open that pyloric valve faster, pushing your undiluted swill straight to your blood. Higher blood content levels at specific times lead to higher severity of tomorrow’s wrath of the grapes. Stick to drinking alcohol on the rocks with a quick chase of water. You look classier anyway.
Water, water, water
For those of you who wake up clutching your head and whispering horrible nothings to an (possibly) empty room, you may want to reach for some water. Ethanol, the key party ingredient in alcohol, dries out your brain. That’s right, your brain. By suppressing a hormone called arginine vasopressin, which regulates water levels in your body, water is shed from your corpus while on the drink causing your brain to actually decrease in size. Surprise! Shrinkage after a night dancing with the fairies happens in more than just one place.
Escape from divine punishment
Is there not a way to just get rid of it all together? The answer has been, for quite some time, not really. The number of painful things that alcohol does to your system are far too vast and complicated to engineer a pill that sweeps them all away. Mitigating numbers of glasses, making smarter choices, limiting your weekly schedule and staying hydrated are the best ways to avoid waking up to the technicolor yawn. Remember, an aspirin doesn’t hurt. See you at the party.
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