It’s no secret that our bodies get worse at handling hangovers as we age, but the question on many people’s lips is why.
Research suggests that our hangovers start getting noticeably worse at age 29, but for some, the reasons are not entirely clear.
There are a variety of explanations as to why this happens, so FEMAIL spoke to Australian dietitian Kate Save to find the answers.
‘Hormonal changes occur with age, which can impact metabolism and the body’s ability to metabolise alcohol,’ she told FEMAIL.
It’s no secret that our bodies get worse at handling hangovers as we age, but there are a variety of explanations as to why this happens, so FEMAIL spoke to dietitian Kate Save to find the answers
‘Our reduced insulin response may also impair our overall alcohol metabolism,’ she added.
Kidney function also decreases with age, which might increase the effects felt by a hangover.
‘Alcohol promotes urine production by inhibiting the antidiuretic hormone, vasopressin, which is released by the pituitary gland, while reduced levels of antidiuretic hormone prevents the kidneys from reabsorbing water,’ Kate explained.
‘Our kidneys are responsible for filtering harmful substances from the blood and maintaining a suitable balance of water in the body.’
‘Hormonal changes occur with age, which can impact metabolism and the body’s ability to metabolise alcohol,’ she said
– Drink water before bed
– Take painkillers before bed
– Get plenty of sleep
– Drink Gatorade
– Eat greasy food
– Consume dry toast if you’ve been vomiting
– Replenish your vitamins and minerals
– Have a drink the next day (also known as ‘hair of the dog’)
We all know that an important part of decreasing the chances of having an hangover is by keeping yourself hydrated the night before.
Unfortunately, older adults are more prone to dehydration due to decreased muscle mass.
‘A lower body water percentage impairs our body’s ability to process and eliminate the toxic waste,’ Kate said.
Another factor that may affect our ability to metabolise alcohol is our body composition.
‘As we age, typically our level of body fat increases while muscle mass decreases,’ Kate said.
‘Muscle tissue contains higher concentrations of water, and alcohol absorbed more quickly by water rich tissues.
‘The more body fat an individual has, the longer alcohol will remain in the bloodstream.’
Another factor that may affect our ability to metabolise alcohol is our body composition
Kate explained that it is the liver that is responsible for metabolising alcohol, which is done via the enzyme alcohol dehydrogenase.
‘Alcohol undergoes a two-step process to be metabolised; firstly, the enzyme called alcohol dehydrogenase breaks down alcohol to acetaldehyde, and secondly aldehyde dehydrogenase breaks acetaldehyde to acetate,’ she said.
‘As we age, we typically see a decline in the volume of blood flow in the liver, which may impact our body’s ability to clear alcohol from our system.’
‘As we age, we typically see a decline in the volume of blood flow in the liver, which may impact our body’s ability to clear alcohol from our system,’ Kate said
Another interesting perspective is from Lara Ray, a professor of clinical psychology at the University of California who researches alcoholism.
She believes that one of the issues may be that you’re drinking less as you age, which reduces your tolerance to alcohol.
Someone with the self-image of a partying twenty something but the lifestyle of a responsible 42-year-old may simply have lost the tolerance for a lot of alcohol, she said.
‘Age may be a proxy for regularity of drinking,’ Dr Ray told The New York Times.
‘If you haven’t gone to a party for two to three weeks, it might be less about being 40 and more about your drinking history.’