Alcohol and menopause: Is it a bad mix?
So many women we speak to tell us that alcohol hits them much harder as they get older- particularly around the time of perimenopause and menopause. Why is that? And is all alcohol bad for you when you reach menopause?
Why can't we tolerate alcohol as well when we got older?
There are a few physiological reasons why alcohol hits us harder as we age, and more so for women. Firstly, as we age our bodies hold less water which means that the dehydrating effects of alcohol hit the body even harder. The more water in your body, the better your body can dillute alcohol and the less you will feel the effects of drinking.
Secondly, the enzymes in the stomach ( alcohol dehydrogenase -ADH) which break down alcohol can diminish as we get older, which means that our ability to process the alcohol we drink is reduced. This is why hangovers are often much more severe. Women in particular seem to have less of this enzyme which means that we tend to absorb more alcohol into the bloodstream than men, meaning the impact of the alcohol we drink is more noticeable.
Does alcohol trigger hot flashes?
Many women find that drinking also triggers hot flashes, especially red wine. This doesn't seem to happen for everyone, the research is a bit conflicting here but it seems like for some women there is an increased risk of hot flashes and night sweats with drinking. For others, low to moderate amounts of alcohol actually seem to reduce the occurence and severity of hot flashes. This might be due to the stage of menopause or the types of alcohol they are drinking.
Is it all bad news?
No! In fact, there is quite a bit of research that light to moderate alcohol consumption (usually defined as 1 standard drink per day) may help with quite a few symptoms of ageing and menopause in women.
This can include improved bone density, lower risk of type 2 diabetes and dementia and for some, less frequent hot flashes. That said, drinking any amount of alcohol is linked to an increased risk of several cancers in women, including breast cancer.
Swapping some of your alcoholic drinks for non-alcoholic versions can be a great strategy for reducing your drinking to a light to moderate level. Swapping to a great non-alcoholic G&T like Monday Distillery Classic G&T a couple of times a week means you can still spoil yourself without feeling the nasty after effects.
Did you know that beer can be good for menopausal women?
A great study from 2017 has found that the hops and polyphenols in beer relieve common menopausal symptoms for many women. They found that this was likely because beer contains amino acids, carbohydrates, vitamins, minerals, and polyphenols, as well as the benefits of drinking fermented drinks. You can also get these benefits from drinking alcohol free beer, without increasing your alcohol consumption. The Drink Swap stocks a fantastic range of non-alcoholic beers which give you all the benefits and great taste of a beer, minus the booze!