I've definitely had my fair share of alcohol-induced fun since I turned 21, but as I get older, I can't help but notice how my relationship with drinking has been changing as I make my way through my 20s. With real-world responsibilities and the whole adulting thing in general, I can't exactly function properly with a hangover these days -- and I know I'm not the only one feeling these changes.
And that's the thing: I'm feeling these changes, but apparently, my age may not even have much to do with it.
Elite Daily spoke with Jennifer Major, registered dietician and Noom digital health coach. According to her, there's actually not much of a difference between the effects of alcohol on the body between 21 and, say, 25 years old.
There is, however, something to be said about an individual's tolerance level as they age.
As someone who's just shy of 26 years old, I've definitely noticed a change in how well my body can handle liquor now compared to when I first turned 21.
For example, after going out for a drink the other night (and I mean that literally -- I had one drink over the course of the entire evening), I woke up the following morning with a heavy stomach, a foggy brain, and an intensely strong craving for a bagel.
As it turns out, the way your body feels after a night of drinking can depend on a whole slew of factors that may not even have anything to do with your age.
Major tells Elite Daily,
The metabolic causes of hangovers are poorly studied and understood, but most believe it's a combination of alcohol metabolism byproducts (acetate or acetaldehyde) and dehydration. The biggest factors that go into alcohol metabolism involve sex, age, food in the stomach, body composition (fat, muscle, body water) and medications.
And she's absolutely right. For example, women are more vulnerable to the effects of alcohol than men, such that one drink for a woman is likely to have twice the effect of one for a man.
The amount of alcohol your body can handle can depend on how old you are, but it can also depend on whether or not you ate a sufficient amount of food before drinking, or even more uncontrollable factors like your genetic makeup, says Major.
But your age does play a slightly more significant role in how rough your hangover will feel.
Robert Pandina, a professor and former director of the Rutgers Center of Alcohol Studies told U.S. News,
Tolerance for alcohol can decline over time, possibly due to changes in body composition. As you age, the proportion of fat to muscle tends to increase, even if your weight remains stable.
Translation: Time is of the essence, and the older you get, the less alcohol your system can tolerate.
Either way, it's really all about balance.
When it comes down to it, age plays a smaller role than you think in terms of how your body reacts to alcohol. The older you get, the more susceptive you are to its symptoms.
The key is to know your limit and stop there (or deal with a brutal hangover on the reg -- I won't judge your life).