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Dr. Perricone Discusses

Alcohol and Your Skin


People generally think that alcohol is bad for the skin,due to the fact that it tends to dehydrate the body. They assume that if they drink plenty of water, they will be just fine. Unfortunately, this is not the case. In reality, alcohol creates inflammation throughout the body, including the skin. The effects far outlast dehydration. Dullness, enlarged pores, discoloration, sagging, and lack of resilience can all result.

I should mention, however, that I do not have any problem with my patients having an occasional glass of red wine with their meal. As the research supports, red wine can provide some very important antioxidants, known as polyphenols, that do help protect the body. I suggest drinking a glass of wine with your meal, rather than before, to avoid a rapid rise in blood sugar, which (as you probably know by now) causes a burst of inflammation throughout the body.

Alcohol and Your Skin
Excess alcohol also alters blood flow to the skin, giving one an unhealthy appearance for days. This is because alcohol causes small blood vessels in the skin to widen, allowing more blood to flow close to the skin's surface. This produces a flushed skin color and a feeling of warmth which can lead to broken capillaries on the face. As mentioned, alcohol also leads to dehydration, and dry skin is more prone to fine lines than skin that is well-hydrated.

Alcohol and Sleep
Since sleep is so important to rejuvenation of the skin and the entire body, it is essential that we do whatever we can to enhance the sleep experience. A few alcoholic beverages in the evening may initially make us drowsy, but very soon the alcohol precipitates a burst of norepinephrine in the system, a hormone that increases as a result of excitement or stress. Hours after taking a drink, a burst of norepinephrine occurs, and causes you to come back to consciousness. This results in a very poor night's sleep—and will leave your skin looking mottled and dull the next day.

Hard Alcohol vs. Wine
Drinking hard liquor as opposed to a glass of wine with dinner causes many problems in the body. Alcohol is detoxified by the liver. The alcohol content of hard liquor is very high. The metabolites of alcohol are molecules called aldehydes. Aldehydes are destructive in that they cause cellular damage to the plasma membrane, as well as various portions of the interior of the cell, resulting in an inflammatory reaction. In summary, red wine in moderation is fine but forget the martini. Finally, the sugars in juice or sodas also have pro-inflammatory effects on the skin; you'll be better off using water or tonic instead.

Tips for Healthier Drinking
  • Make sure that you never drink alcohol on an empty stomach and that you stay well-hydrated by drinking plenty of water.
  • Green foods such as Green Magma contain dried barley grass which can neutralize the toxic effects of the aldehydes. It is the perfect 'detox.'
  • If you're drinking hard liquor, avoid mixing them with sugar-laden juice or sodas, which also have pro-inflammatory effects. Use soda water or tonic instead.
  • Coffee is not an antidote to alcohol. In fact will leave you feeling even worse!

If You've Over-indulged
Should you over-indulge, drinking fresh, pure water and taking the right blend of nutritional supplements can help repair the internal and external damage that greets you the following morning. I recommend:
  • 10 -12 ounce glass of water
  • 1000 milligrams of vitamin C
  • 1200 milligrams of n-acetyl cysteine
  • 100 milligrams of alpha lipoic acid
  • 1000 milligrams glutamine
  • 500 milligrams of pantothenic acid
  • A B-complex capsule


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