A few years ago while enjoying a much needed vacation, I drank a margarita with lunch, a glass of white wine with before-dinner appetizers and a couple of glasses of red wine with dinner. A blinding headache that evening made me realize that I could no longer: (1) mix hard liquor with wine, (2) mix red and white wines and (3) drink alcohol like I did in my much younger years.
And there are good reasons for this. At age 50, biological processes commence that affect our alcohol consumption, such as:
- The body loses muscle mass and gains fat (see my blog “Fit Fat – During Menopause and After”) and carries less water in the bloodstream. This results in a higher blood-alcohol content.
- The stomach and liver don’t produce as much of the alcohol-digesting enzyme called ADH, resulting in a higher blood-alcohol content that’s sustained longer — even if you are not drinking more. And here’s the rub, ladies: women have less ADH than men to begin with!
- Dehydration is a common and sometimes life threatening problem in older people, sober or not. Severe hangovers can cause dehydration.
- The skin’s antioxidant defense system is impaired by excessive use of alcohol. In non-medical jargon, this means wrinkles, wrinkles, wrinkles.
For those women experiencing menopause or who are post-menopausal, heavy drinking may increase the risk of depression, heart disease, obesity, breast and many other cancers, osteoporosis, type 2 diabetes, organ and nerve damage, and may trigger hot flashes.
Drink sensibly. And, remember those wrinkles!