If you're anything like me, you can experience a hangover without even drinking enough alcohol to get drunk. Nope, it's not in your head and it's not fair - in fact, it's a real MTHFR. How does alcohol affect someone with the MTHFR mutation and is there any room for it in the life of such a person?
There are lots of jokes floating around online that make fun of the difference between a night of drinking in your early 20s vs. late 20s and beyond. These images usually include some sort of juxtaposition between a college-aged student popping an Advil and going for a jog to shake off a mild hangover, next to a post-college adult paying for too much drinking by suffering in bed for 3 days and nights, perhaps to never recover. If you have the MTHFR mutation (especially homozygous), you may have never experienced that mystical hangover-immune period of youth - I certainly didn't. I always noticed that I experienced hangovers much more easily and with way more intensity than my peers. After a short time of experimenting with alcohol as a student, I lost interest partly because it made me way too sick. This phenomenon was always a mysterious thing to me, until I later found out that it was all due to my genetics.
Did you know that alcohol actually inhibits methylation? With your methylation and detox processes already being sometimes severely inhibited due to your genes, adding alcohol to the mix can be disastrous. A hangover is caused by the body not being able to complete the Krebs cycle efficiently. Further impaired methylation makes the Krebs cycle even tougher to complete - resulting in one beast of a hangover. And then, of course, there's the astronomical sugar content. I find that my tolerance for alcohol fluctuates with my overall state of health (the lower my toxic load, and thus better my methylation, the more I can handle a few drinks without repercussions). However, these days, alcohol doesn't make an appearance in my life much, save for the occasional drink at a restaurant or wedding.
I'm happy with a, for the most part, alcohol-free lifestyle. But what about you? While I'm not suggesting that everyone should go alcohol-free, I strongly recommend not making it a part of your daily life. Sure, there are some nutritional benefits in red wine, for example, but we don't have the genetic makeup to properly enjoy those benefits - especially when you can get those same benefits from red grapes or a polyphenol supplement. If you can't part with your evening ritual, I suggest limiting intake to one glass per day. However, treating yourself on special occasions is ideal.
Do you experience hangovers more easily and with more intensity than the average person? Do you drink alcohol regularly? Tell us about it!