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Alcohol Intolerance

Has it ever happened to you that you are few sips down the glass of alcohol and you sense that annoying feeling of being hungover setting in earlier than it usually should? Even though hangover is quite common after alcohol consumption, it differs significantly from alcohol intolerance. The latter is characterized by the sudden onset of unpleasant and discomforting reactions such as nausea, vomiting, sinus congestion, shortly after consuming even one alcoholic drink.

Dear alcohol lovers, take heart, this reality check is certainly not the Nature toying around with its whimsical ways! Alcohol intolerance is as real as it sounds, moreover, it can happen to anyone. Thus, without leaving you with the guesswork, let’s brace up and dig deeper to learn further about what alcohol intolerance implies.

Understanding Alcohol Intolerance and What Causes It?

Are you wondering why would your body fight against alcohol? Here’s why…

You can blame it on your genes, quite literally! Intolerance to alcohol is a genetic condition in which the body becomes incapable of breaking down toxins in alcohol effectively. To explain it further, the alcohol we so gladly consume contains ethanol which gets metabolized by the liver to a chemical named acetaldehyde (a known carcinogen). Alcohol dehydrogenase (ADH) and Aldehyde dehydrogenase (ALDH) are the primary two liver enzymes responsible for flushing out toxins from the body. When the liver ineffectively becomes unable to break down the ethanol, it leads to unpleasant reactions.

As per the various studies conducted, it is known that alcohol intolerance is more prevalent as genetic Asian predisposition. The gene anomaly dates back to 10,000 years ago which was developed in Southern China and according to a study more than 36% of East Asians, which includes Japanese, Koreans and Chinese suffer from this characteristic condition.

In some cases, intolerance to alcohol and allergic reactions get triggered by the presence of certain ingredients found in alcoholic beverages, such as wheat, rye, barley, chemicals, sulfites (preservatives and antioxidants), histamine (due to processes such as fermentation and brewing), etc. Although excessive histamine levels in the body cause allergy-like symptoms, it isn’t an allergy but an intolerance to histamine found in fermented or brewed alcoholic beverages. The sensitivity to sulfites leads to allergy-like reactions and may also trigger an asthmatic attack.

What Are The Symptoms?

– Flushed face or redness of face

– Hives (Warm and red itchy bumps on the skin)

– Sinus congestion (Stuffy or a runny nose)

– Headaches

– Stomach pain, nausea, and vomiting

– Low blood pressure

– Diarrhea

– Difficulty in breathing

– Heart palpitations

Is It Different from Alcohol Allergy?

Let’s clarify in no specific terms that being allergic to alcohol and being intolerant to alcohol are two different things. Alcohol intolerance may cause prompt, irritant and obnoxious reactions once you’re guilty of sipping even small amounts of that drink. In contrast to intolerance to alcohol, alcohol allergy is quite uncommon. The symptoms of the two often overlap, however, in alcohol allergy symptoms get aggravated and often accompanied by acute aches and pains.

A sudden onset of symptoms may be due to newly developed intolerance to alcohol. If the symptoms persist or get aggravated, it is advisable to consult a medical practitioner. If left untreated, some allergic reactions have the potential to turn fatal.

Risk Factors and Complications

– Genetic Asian predisposition

– Allergic rhinitis or asthma

– Allergy to certain food ingredients found in alcoholic beverages (Grapes, wheat, rye, barley, hops,
yeast, etc.)

-Hodgkin’s lymphoma (In rare and severe cases)

Besides the above-mentioned risk factors, complications to alcohol intolerance may include migraines and in rare cases, it leads to severe allergic reactions which may turn potentially life-threatening and require urgent medical help.The troublesome reactions of alcohol intolerance can be avoided by abstaining from consuming alcohol altogether. Alternatively, labels on alcoholic beverages should be carefully read to find about any such additives which one may be allergic to. And needless to say, that in case of aggravated symptoms, one must seek immediate medical assistance. Alcohol is not your enemy unless you make it to be by abusing it. Drinking responsibly endorses drinking in moderation. However, caution must be observed in case of certain medical conditions in which avoiding alcohol is advisable.

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Benefits Of Moderate Drinking

As much as consumption of alcohol in excess is harmful, drinking in moderation is strangely beneficial too. Sounds too good to be true, doesn’t it? Well believe it, because moderate drinking does offer some benefits for your health.

To begin with let us refresh our memory about drinking in moderation. Alcohol consumption in moderation falls within the prescribed limits of guidelines which are not more than 2 units per day for women and not more than 3 units per day for men.
It also specifies that per week consumption of should not exceed of maximum 7 drinks for women and 14 drinks for men. It also restricts one to not be in a ‘drunken state’.

Now, what could be the possible health benefits of alcohol, one might wonder. Well, read on-

Moderate consumption of alcohol is good for the heart, suggest the studies.

– It raises HDL (high density lipoproteins) levels or the good cholesterol, so to say. HDL is responsible to carry cholesterol from body tissues to liver which rids off the bile content. Thus, an increased HDL level lowers the risk of coronary artery disease.

– It assists in keeping the bad cholesterol or LDL (low density lipoproteins) in check. Increased levels of LDL are responsible for an increased risk of heart disease.

– It prevents the blockage or blood clotting thus reducing the risk of heart attack and ischemic strokes. Ischemic strokes occur due to narrowing of arteries which carry blood to brain.

– New studies have shown that moderate consumption of alcohol could actually be helpful by reducing the risk of diabetes. It is noted that drinking wine was most beneficial in this regard as it improves the blood sugar levels.

Think of the famous ‘French paradox’, which is an observation that despite of high saturated fats dietary consumption, the rate of cardiovascular disease remains very low in France.
There has been much ado surrounding the paradox and many researches have been conducted to find the causal link between the two. Some researchers have suggested that the lower risk of cardiovascular disease is linked to higher consumption of red wine in France. The medics however remain wary of promoting alcohol consumption taking into consideration the malefic effects of excessive consumption.

The bottom line, besides the dark side of alcohol which adversely affects the health, alcohol benefits us-
– By reducing the risk of heart diseases
– Reducing the risk of ischemic stroke; and
– Reducing the risk of diabetes.

As the debate goes on about the possible beneficial and malefic effects of alcohol, one must remember not to be encouraged to ‘start’ drinking if you currently do not consume alcohol. Also, if taken in moderate doses alcohol is good for heart and circulatory system. However, it must be kept in mind that any excess is obviously bad for health both in the short and the long run which is why caution must be observed.

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This Brand New Year Find Alternatives To Lead An Alcohol-Free Life- Get High On Life Instead!

As the New Year brings with it new energies, it’s time to get rid of limiting old baggage which stops you from living your life fully.  Be it unhealthy relationships, old-unhealthy habits, any kind of dependencies which also include dependency on alcohol, it’s time to shun them all and fall in love with life for it’s an altogether different kind of high.

Remember the ghosts of the year past- all the resolutions which you couldn’t keep, material-immaterial plans which couldn’t fructify, the heartbreaks, stress and happiness. And all those times when you found mirth or solace in a glass of alcohol? Well it’s time to change that, this year! We bring you a chirpy list of alternatives to lead an alcohol-free life which are sure to bring a different kind of ‘happiness’ in life.


Spending time in nature is very therapeutic and your mind-body-soul are all going to rejoice in unison!  Besides making you feel a certain sense of wonderment being in nature, hiking has excellent health benefits too. It lowers the risk of heart disease, regulates blood pressure and blood sugar levels, it enhances core strength and helps in toning up the body. Let those vodka shots be and trod the path less taken. Chirping birds, rustling leaves – unfold the beautiful mysteries of nature and trailblaze your way to an improved and better health at the same time.

Go On A Solo Trip

As Rumi said, “Travel brings love and power back into your life”, and so it is!

Travelling not only refreshes your mind and body, it also rejuvenates your soul. Travelling alone brings a distinct sense of empowerment in life. Going on a solo trip offers a different ‘high’ altogether, it is even more empowering wherein you find hidden reserves of strength within. This year dare yourself to go on a walking trip in your city ‘all by yourself’ or explore the world, but of course bearing in mind all safety aspects of it. The idea is to find strength in yourself and get addicted to life instead of alcohol.

Learn A New Language

“Speak a new language so that the world will be a new world”. Well no mysteries here, it’s yet another beautiful quote by Rumi, of course applied in a slightly different context.

Learn something new- a new language, learn about a new culture. Improving on your linguistic skills is an interesting alternative that you might want to try to keep your mind and hands off that addictive beer bottle. Plus, learning a new language might come in handy when you travel to lands afar! Learning about a new culture or language broadens your intellectual horizon, it is also a great way to exercise your brain so go ahead and tantalize your mind a little!

Learn A New Style Of Cooking

Speaking of learning a new language, how about learning a different style of cooking? Go the French way or Italian or whichever way you please! Cooking is fun, it saves money and home cooked food is any day a healthier option to choose. Many people find cooking to be a great stress buster too. Learning a new style of cooking is obviously expansive as you also get to know about the history and culture that influences a particular dish.

Pick up Photography

They say that ‘a picture is worth a thousand words’, quite true and why not! It’s always good to look at life differently and have a new perspective, right? So let that refreshed perspective be through a lens! Some of us were ‘addicted’ to photography while growing up and whatever caught our fancy we’d always want to click that, we’d capture those moments for ever- fresh blooms, the beautiful skies, the falling rain, just about anything which arose that feeling of bliss and nostalgia all at the same time! Remember how happy it made you feel THEN and realize how the memory makes you happy NOW, doesn’t it? Well maybe it’s time to let that nostalgia inspire you to pick up that passion or ‘hobby’ once again.  Even if you haven’t been a keen observer of moments and life-around in general, you can always try something new and different to get that ‘kick’ in life.

And speaking of kick, reminds us to mention…

Learn Kick boxing

Especially you, ladies! Without delving deeper into the glum reality of increasing crime rates against women, it is important to know how to protect yourself. From safety point of view why not learn new skills of self-defense technique? Learn kickboxing, as much as it is important to be free in mind, body and soul it is also important to know how to protect yourself. Besides that, can you imagine the kind of high that adrenaline rush and increased endorphin levels would induce ‘minus’ any hangovers! We bet that it is going to be far better than the one which alcohol would give you. To all menfolk out there, don’t feel left out, kickboxing is a great form of exercise and you can learn it too!

 On a parting note…Now that we’ve listed out some of the alternatives, wouldn’t you agree that life without alcohol can be as exciting and even more so? This year make a pact with yourself to find an alcohol-free ‘high’ in life. Promise yourself to rely, not on alcohol but on ‘yourself’. Whatever may be your choice, do remember to detox, refresh and rejuvenate your mind, body and soul!

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