It’s the morning after the night before and as your brain hazily comes into focus, so do the not so pleasant flash backs and you start to question whether you should have had that pink gin cocktail, after the glass of wine and ....... oh dear you remember you had three tequila shots as well!
It’s at this point most of us start to scold ourselves, telling ourselves we shouldn’t have mixed so many drinks and if we had stuck to one kind we would have been just fine – but would we?
Previous research from the 1970s indicates that drinks containing certain ‘congeners’, increase the likeliness of a hangover. Produced during the manufacturing process, congeners are compounds and some drinks like whiskey contain more than vodka. New research testing this theory today have found that congeners have little impact on hangovers or levels of intoxication.
Your body when healthy, only has the ability to eliminate one standard alcoholic drink (10 grams of alcohol) from its system per hour. If your drinking rate per hour is higher than this, the likeliness of you feeling sick the next day will increase. When your body metabolises alcohol, it converts it back to acetaldehyde which is similar to the toxic poison formaldehyde.
One third of the alcohol that passes our lips, seeps into the blood stream via the stomach lining. The rest finds its way through the walls of the small intestine. As the alcohol hits our bloodstream, the brains cerebral cortex that processes our thoughts will start to be impacted. This can lead to: lowered inhibitions, less clear judgment and the reduced feeling of pain due to the brain not processing information as well.
Memory and emotions can also start to be distorted, with the dreaded loss of memory and exaggerated emotional state. Those lost hours you may have experienced during a big night out, are said to be from the brains inability to create new memories during heavy alcohol consumption. And finally, the cerebellum (the movement and coordination centre), becomes affected causing swayed, uncoordinated movement.
Once you’ve consumed alcohol, there’s nothing you can do to speed up metabolism or reverse the effects. Contrary to the belief that mixing drinks is the main cause of a hangover, current research has shown that the main symptoms of a hangover are: dehydration, the toxic effects of the alcohol reacting with our body and the changes of the levels of hormones such as cortisol and aldosterone. Alongside this, some evidence has been shown that the immune system can sometimes be disrupted, which could be the reason we experience a headache, nausea and tiredness.
So if you’re a big believer in ‘’beer before wine and you’ll be fine’’ and ‘’wine before beer and you’ll feel queer’’, the existing evidence says mixing drinks is NOT the cause of hangovers. Experts believe it’s the amount of alcohol you consume and how long you have between each drink that will determine whether you get a hangover regardless of whether you continually change your alcoholic beverage.