Thought I’d write this little post just in time for the holidays.
How alcohol affects your skin and body
First – a few notes on drinking. Warning – surgeon general warning type stuff ahead that will probs harsh your mellow:
- An acceptable level of alcohol consumption is defined as 4 drinks per week (regular sized drinks, not giant margaritas)
- In Ayurveda, alcohol is seen as a “super sugar” in the way it affects the body
- Alcohol is processed through the liver as a toxin
- When alcohol is present in the system, the liver is not able to devote as much energy and efficiency to detoxing the body normally, so there is a higher rate of toxins being recirculated in our blood. This includes estrogen, and can lead to a state of estrogen excess, a very common hormonal balance that causes acne
- Alcohol also affects our skin negatively, dehydrating the skin and encouraging lines to form prematurely, especially between the eyes and in the nasolabial folds
- Red wine (and some white wine) DOES contain antioxidants like resveratrol, but before you go getting all excited about a loophole, studies have shown that too much resveratrol can actually have a negative effect on health. And there’s plenty of this particular antioxidant in foods that don’t contain alcohol, notably blueberries, dark chocolate, peanut butter and red grapes.
- Alcohol demineralizes the body. What does this mean and why should you care? The body does not like to be too acidic. It does best when the blood is very slightly alkaline. The trouble is, foods like meat, refined grains and sugar, as well as black tea, coffee and alcohol, and finally stress, can all cause our body to get very acidic. To neutralize the acidity, the body leeches important minerals from our bones and other parts of our body to neutralize the acid. This includes minerals like zinc, copper, selenium and magnesium – minerals that are VERY important to keeping our skin clear. A body that is too acidic has hormone issues, skin issues, eczema, gut problems, candida overgrowth, inflammation, fatigue and heightened risk of osteoporosis.
But hey, we’re human, and I’ll be the first person to raise my hand and say that there have been plenty weeks in my life where my alcohol consumption was “above acceptable.”
So if you’re going to drink, here’s the ultimate guide for getting it right without upsetting your skin:
The Best Alcoholic Drinks If You Have Acne
- Vodka Soda with Lemon Twist
- Tequila Soda with Lime Twist
- Dry Red Wine (Cabernet, Pinot Noir)
- Dry White Wine Spritzer with soda and lemon
- Bloody Mary (low sodium tomato juice if possible)
- Gluten free low alcohol beer
Here’s the basic gist – choose soda water (NOT actual soda!) over tonic water, since tonic is sweetened. Avoid hidden/added sugar at all costs – this will help prevent a hangover as well. Choose “pure” liquors like plain ol’ vodka, not weird flavored stuff like Kahlua or pomegranate vodka.
Other tips for acne friendly drinking
- Drink the SAME drink all night (um, why make things EVEN harder for your liver? Plus, drinking different drinks exponentially increases your chances of a hangover)
- NO shots (too much alcohol too fast)
- Alternate each alcoholic drink with water (do it!)
- If prone to rosecea and if lots of inflammation in skin, avoid wine (especially red wine, next white wine, next beer. If alcohol aggravates rosecea for you, your best bet is liquor, not wine or beer)
- Avoid sugary drinks and artificial sweeteners – duh (omg, if you’re not digging what wine does to your skin, wait till we talk about sugar!)
- Favor soda water over tonic water (tonic water has sugar)
- Drink Kombucha (If it’s possible to bring your own drink, do so! I like to drink Kombucha in lieu of alcohol and if I’m feeling extra fancy I’ll make my own “Glowing Skin Wine” recipe and drink that.)
- Water your alcohol down – make wine spritzers with soda and cranberry juice or lemon juice. Add ice cubes to your wine – this is nice esp. in the summer. Also, as above – no shots or super alcohol-y drinks like Long Islands or Martinis.
What to do to support your body & liver if you are drinking
Help your liver out by taking a gentle liver support supplement. Reishi is a favorite of mine, Milk thistle is perhaps the most popular, Burdock root can be a great addition for bllod cleansing, and there are plenty of other liver supplements out there. Thorne is a trusted brand.
Since you are inhibiting your body’s ability to detoxify estrogen, consider taking a low dose of DIM, like Estroblock to help this. DIM supplements are made of compounds derived from cruciferous veggies, and help the body detoxify estrogen much more efficiently. I can’t recommend a DIM supplement enough, especially if you are drinking AND on hormonal birth control (which puts your body in a state of estrogen excess). Estroblock is a great brand. Go low dose at first, not extra strength.
The day AFTER you’ve partied, first thing when you wake up, slam an entire glass of water. Non-negotiable. Put lemon in it, or not, I don’t care, just drink the water asap. And keep drinking lots of water that entire day. Even better – consider beet juice or beet kvass, or a blood purifying tea blend with burdock root or dandelion root.
So we’ve established above that our bodies tend to be too acidic what with modern lifestyles. Taking a supplement to remineralize your body might be a good idea, especially if your diet has sort of slid a little south and sideways. Again, Thorne makes some good mineral supplements. If you have questions about which is right for you, a naturopath can help.
There’s plenty of acidic foods, but there’s also plenty of alkaline ones that you can max out on the day or week after a big party. Check out an acid-alkaline food chart that helps you see which foods are best. Some might surprise you! (Like raw honey is actually slightly alkaline!)
Well, moss beauties – party safe, party alcohol free perhaps, but party strong! Celebrate the things that call for it, and when in doubt, rest and give thanks.