Effects of Alcohol on the Skin

Did you know that drinking alcohol is prematurely ageing you? Significantly reducing or better yet completely giving up drinking could dramatically transform your skin (cheers to that!). This is what alcohol does to your skin (1)  increases cellular dehydration (2) increases inflammatory processes and (3) reduces the absorption of many vital nutrients including vitamins, minerals, protein and fats, that are essential to maintaining skin health.

  1. Dehydration

Alcohol is a diuretic, meaning it draws water out of cells and is excreted in the urine. It's important to drink a glass of water for every standard drink. This will help replace fluids lost, maintain cellular hydration and avoid a hang over (bonus!).

  1. Inflammation

Alcohol is absolutely a driver of inflammation. The inflammatory effect of alcohol can be especially obvious in people suffering from psoriasis, acne rosacea and eczema. In people with psoriasis, alcohol additionally stimulates the keratinocytes (an epidermal skin cell) to over proliferate worsening the appearance of psoriatic plaques.

Alcohol is also a vasodilator, meaning it dilates the veins. Ingestion of alcohol can leave the skin appearing red and flushed. Long term flushing can lead to permanent capillary damage and sustained redness. Permanent capillary damage is common in chronic alcoholics but can also be seen in people with rosacea or sensitive skin. A histamine reaction can also cause redness and flushing, which I have spoken about before in Vida Glow's rosacea blog here

  1. Depletes Nutrients

Nutritionally, alcohol reduces the absorption of nutrients by decreasing pancreatic secretions, damaging the intestinal lining, as well as increasing the depletion and excretion of many nutrients during metabolism and detoxification of alcohol.

Here's a brief snapshot of how alcohol effects your nutritional status and therefore your skin health. 

 

Nutrient

Alcohol's Effect

Why it's important for skin

Protein

Reduces digestion of proteins to amino acids, impaired absorption of amino acids by small intestine and liver, impaired synthesis of proteins from amino acids (rebuilding structures).

To maintain cells structure and health of skin

Zinc

Zinc is essential co-factor for the production of enzymes that detoxify alcohol (alcohol dehydrogenase's) to less toxic forms.

To maintain the health of the skin and as well as a cofactor for proteins. Zinc deficiency symptoms can include slow wound healing, dry or rough skin and hair loss. 

B vitamins especially vitamin B3 and B9 (folate)

Vitamin B3 or Niacin is a precursor for NAD and NADH which a required for the conversion of alcohol to its less toxic form in the body.

Niacin (B3) is needed for carbohydrate (glucose) and protein metabolism. It also appears to suppress inflammation. 

 

Folate (B9) is especially important for all rapidly dividing cells in the body (skin, intestinal lining and during pregnancy).

Fats and fat soluble vitamins A, D E and K

Inhibits the absorption of fats and fat soluble vitamins in the digestive system.

 

Vitamin D cannot be converted to active form in the liver in the presence of alcohol.

Vitamin A is essential to maintain the mucous membranes of the skin and digestive system.

 

Vitamin D deficiency is commonly seen in people with psoriasis and atopic skin conditions.

 

Fats are essentials for maintaining the skins barrier function (protecting against infection), as a component of the intercellular matrix, cell membranes and sebum.

 

 How to safely drink alcohol and reduce adverse effects on your skin and health

  1. Drink a glass of water for every standard drink to maintain hydration
  2. Know what a standard drink is (100ml most wine, 275ml full strength beer, 425ml low strength beer or 30ml nip of 40% alcohol spirit) and aim to not drink more than 2 standard drinks a day.
  3. Limit drink to 2-3 nights per week and ensure you have 2 consecutive days off to allow your body to repair and replenish.
  4. Eat a meal before starting to drink alcohol
  5. Avoid situations where you are likely to binge drink

 

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