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The Science Behind our Hangovers


After a night of drinking, some wonder how their body reacts to alcohol under different circumstances. Some may wake up the next morning feeling great; Others might start the day with a pounding headache and vomiting. We know some of the more common symptoms of hangovers such as nausea, dizziness, dehydration, and vomiting. But what goes on within our system that causes these symptoms to happen? Twenty-four hours a day, our body works to stay healthy and functional. However, consuming alcohol (or other toxic substances) can cause the body to work in overdrive to recover and prevent dangers.



It’s no secret that dehydration is one of the main factors when drinking alcohol. Alcohol prevents the body from releasing the antidiuretic hormone ADH (also called vasopressin). While the body typically releases ADH, sending signals to the kidneys to hold on to water, drinking alcohol can make this process more difficult. ADH suppresses when we drink, causing our kidneys to lose more fluid because we urinate more frequently. This causes dehydration and results in headaches and nausea. Overall, alcohol causes and worsens dehydration symptoms. 


Electrolyte Imbalance 

Electrolytes are essential for healthy living and play a crucial role regarding alcohol. When we urinate, we lose fluids and electrolytes. Magnesium, sodium, potassium, and calcium are a few electrolytes that become depleted during drinking sessions. A way to check our body's electrolyte levels is through a healthcare professional. An electrolyte panel measures the levels of our main electrolytes, and results can show an imbalance caused by too little or too much fluid. For instance, drinking a high amount of alcohol or even certain medications such as antacids and blood pressure medicines can ultimately create an imbalance. 



Other than the occasional glass of red wine, alcohol is typically not labeled as a health product due to its many toxins. When broken down in the body, ADH metabolizes alcohol into acetaldehyde (a highly toxic chemical and carcinogen). The acetaldehyde is then further metabolized into another chemical called acetate. Once the process is completed, the substance is decomposed into water and carbon dioxide. These products are then naturally eliminated by waste. 



Metabolizing and removing toxins from alcohol forces the body to work overtime. The brain plays a vital part in leading the process altogether. The body and brain work simultaneously, using neurotransmitters called gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA). GABA is a naturally occurring amino acid that sends messages throughout the nervous system. Alcohol can harm the production of neurotransmitters, reducing activity in the brain. Consequently, this negatively contributes to short and long-term side effects on one's physical, emotional, and mental well-being. The loss of GABA can affect motor skills, slurred speech, blurred vision, and impaired judgment.


Avoiding Hangovers

Hangover's aren't 100% avoidable, but there are ways to minimize some of the dreadful symptoms and still have a good time. Always eat nutritionally beneficial foods before drinking, including foods with high protein, healthy fats, and vitamins or minerals. An easy and effective way to replenish depleted electrolytes is by adding a rehydration solution, such as Drinklyte. This product allows the body to safely and effectively start the recovery process as soon as possible. The last and most important tip is to drink water. Consistently drinking water before, during, and after drinking alcohol will help with rehydration and hangover symptoms. Rehydrating is crucial for replacing electrolytes, keeping our kidneys functioning properly, and, of course, avoiding those dreadful hangovers.




Author :  Jennifer Dutton, Blog Writer, DrinkLyte Co. "Helping Grow CPG Brands Beyond Their Potential"