As getting ‘shift faced’ is still a primary goal of many during the Xmas period, I thought it’d be fun continue the theme of alcohol consumption on daily life and performances…

This time, we explore ‘the hangover’.

As we all know, the hangover is a self inflicted misery to life that commences once blood alcohol concentration returns to zero.

We may think that the hangover is only negative to us, but actually has a huge socioeconomic impact – For example, in 2010 the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimated a yearly loss of 179 billion US$ related to reduced productivity in the work place.

From an athlete’s perspective, the hangover increases anxiety and impacts risk-taking, decision making and impulse control…all of which are essential in high pressure sporting situations.

In addition to this, hangovers impair psychomotor skills, short and long‐term memory, reaction time, intellectual capacity and divided attention….plus, they make you a miserable asshole (hello!).

Hangovers typically start when alcohol is consumed above 1g/kg/bw (i.e. 80g of alcohol for an 80kg person – approx 8 standard drinks).

As alcohol is recognized as a toxin, a large inflammatory response is seen the following day which is mediated via the immune system. Of which, our gut plays a major role…

Alcohol has been shown to influence our gut microbiome by increasing pro-inflammatory bacteria and decreasing anti-inflammatory bacteria. This has also been shown to cause ‘leaky gut’ where the intestinal wall loses its integrity which further increases pro-inflammatory cyctokines in the blood.

Interestingly, a disruption to our circadian rhythm due to ‘the sesh’ can also cause imbalances in our gut microbiome and leakiness of our gut. Therefore, ensuring sleep is re-synchronized will aids with hangover recovery.

Further to this, alcohol then impacts our gut-brain axis and alter neurotransmitters (serotonin and dopamine pathways), whilst increasing diuretic hormones and causing dehydration.

As we know, many people are somewhat immune to hangovers, which is most likely due to the speed of which they can metabolise alcohol (nature vs nurture?).

Either way, alcohol is pretty bad…As we’ve seen before, it doesn’t negatively consequence muscle growth, hydration or glycogen unless you binge drink.

However, alcohols impact on health and social go far beyond rates of recovery and replenishment, where the negatives of a hangover appear to stem from your gut.

In terms of a hangover cure and negating the negatives..perhaps it starts with gut health? OR…just don’t drink like a dick?

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