I’ve heard this question literally hundreds of times. I’ve even asked it myself.
There are many variations, such as “I seem to get drunk on less,” or “In the morning I can’t remember the night before.” Rest assured that if you’ve had anything like these experiences, you are not alone.
So why does it happen, and more important, what can we do about it?
The science behind this phenomenon is all too simple: as we age (yes, sadly it’s all about aging) our systems, our organs, and every cell in our body start to slow down. According to nutritionist Tina Nunziato CHNC of Dr. Liz Cruz Partners in Digestive Health, our organs don’t process things as quickly or as completely as they used to. Our liver, for example, may not fully metabolize all the alcohol in the wine we consumed last night. The next day, we may feel slightly fuzzy-headed, nauseous, or headache-y.
To compound the problem, our gut and colon don’t eliminate all the toxins the way they used to, so over time we experience a build-up of toxicity throughout our body. It’s no wonder that we “Can’t drink like we used to.”
The picture, however, needn’t be so bleak. We can change our habits so that we can imbibe and enjoy.
We need to understand, first, that ill effects will increase with the amount of alcohol ingested, and all wines are not created equal when it comes to alcohol content. Red wines from warm climate regions, such as Australia and many parts of California, may have an alcohol content as high as 15.5 percent by volume (think Shiraz, Zinfandel, Petite Sirah, and many Red Blends). A cool climate white or red, on the other hand, such as one from northern France or northern Italy, might weigh in at only 12.5 or 13 percent (such as Sancerre or Chianti). Your body feels the difference, and you may find that simply switching to lower alcohol wines will resolve your issues.
Hydration is also a significant part of the solution. Drinking lots of water alongside your wine dilutes the alcohol, so make sure there’s a glass of water beside your glass of wine, and that you drink both throughout the evening.
Book-ending your wine consumption with lots of water will also help your system perform better. Drink one or two eight-ounce glasses before you start drinking wine, and do the same before bed and first thing in the morning.
Finally, “go European.” Many visitors to Europe say they can drink wine all day and never feel drunk, and that’s partly due to the generally lower alcohol content of European wines. But more important, in Europe they use wine as a meal-time beverage, not a cocktail. If you have a glass in one hand, you should have a fork in the other. When you enjoy wine alongside food, whether it’s a light appetizer of almonds and cheese, or
a full-blown five-course meal, your body will process the alcohol much more efficiently.
It’s as simple as that. You can still enjoy the pleasure of a glass of wine (or two), as long as you adjust and adapt to your new, more mature reality. I know I will. Cheers!