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Why our Bodies React Differently to Different Types of Alcohol
We all have our downfalls when it comes to alcohol. And because we are all created unique, our “poison” may not be the same; you may easily get drunk with tequila, while your friend would get knocked out by vodka. While others claim that they don’t have alcohol downfalls at all, some swear that different alcohols cause varying effects. But what do scientists think about this? Are some alcohols worse for you than others?
Whatever your alcoholic drink may be, it contains the same ingredient: ethanol. Your liver acts to filter the blood from the digestive tract, this includes processing the alcohol-laden blood after drinking a glass of wine and other liquors. Although it is an efficient and effective organ, your liver can only handle so much at a time. Thus, when it becomes overloaded, the excess goes back to the blood stream and travel to every organ in your body, including your brain; this results in intoxication.
Alcohol concentration is a significant factor when it comes to the physical effects of alcohol. The amount of alcohol you sip will determine how difficult it is for the liver to process and absorb it. Thus, other ingredients may be contributing factors as to the effectiveness of your liver, as well as the sensations that you may feel. Additionally, impurities in poorly produced brands of alcohol may enhance its effects. But the most important of these components are “congeners”.
Why we get Hangovers
Congeners are organic molecules produced during the fermentation process and contain small amounts of chemicals, like methanol, as well as other alcohols, esters, tannins, and acetone. Although they are usually found in darker-colored drinks, they influence the taste and aroma of all alcoholic beverages; their levels differ according to the type of alcohol and brand.
Congeners also contribute to the symptoms of hangover: that feeling of grogginess and headache the morning after drinking way too much. Although hangovers can’t kill you, they are a manifestation of poisoning in your blood. As we all know, blood is important in transporting oxygen (not alcohol) to your organs and tissues. Thus, alcoholic beverages that have higher levels of congeners are worse for your hangovers and your health than those with lesser ones.
Different Alcohols, Different Behaviors
A 1997 study shows that “different alcohols affect people differently” in the short term. In the study, psychologists pitted beer against a “blue, peppermint concoction” of exactly equal alcohol concentration. Those who drank the unfamiliar blue mixture performed worse on motor and cognitive tasks and rated themselves as more intoxicated than those who drank beer. According to researchers, the familiar drink arouses familiar cues that we respond to in a conditioned manner.
In conclusion, biology and psychology suggest that different types of alcohols do have some different effects that may be due to the concentration levels of the alcohol, as well as some other ingredients, such as the congeners. Still, the idea of trying the unfamiliar may go to our heads temporarily as much as the alcohol itself.
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