Yeah, that tagline has stuck ever since I saw the White Castle ad with Alona Alegre astride a white horse galloping on a beach. Despite the tacky nostalgic memory, those two words have become easy to ditch, especially when I’m on vacation and the hot sun beckons me to start 4PM Happy Hour with two-for-one mojitos.
On some vacation weekend, when you’re on an island with a party scene (Hello, Boracay?) your defenses come down with alcohol. So this post is a friendly reminder to be vigilant about your alcohol intake. I am old enough to be someone’s mom, so allow me this brief lecture on what happens when you tipple that tequila or guzzle that gin.
Researchers have discovered that alcohol, once consumed and in the blood stream, travels to the brain and releases the neurotransmitter dopamine. Dopamine is responsible for feelings of pleasure, which explains why, once you’ve taken one drink and get that warm, fuzzy feeling, you want another one to keep that emotion going.
So you go have that vodka cranberry your friend is offering you. Then another. And another vodka variation. “After just a few drinks, you might as well have scrubbed your stomach lining with Scotch Brite,” says Bridget Doherty in an article in Women’s Health last December called “Booze Clues.” “Alcohol breaks down your tummy’s protective layer of mucus, leaving the walls exposed to strong digestive acid,” she adds. The remedy: Avoid acidic, fruity concoctions (Goodbye, Screwdriver! So long, Malibu Pineapple!). Choose a light beer (Yeah!) or liquor mixed with water or club soda instead.
Here’s what else happens when you take the “Still Standing at 15” challenge or somesuch drinking game: the alcohol wreaks havoc on the part of the brain that controls your balance and movement. The brain and your legs don’t communicate and that’s why your friends have to load you like a sack of potatoes on their shoulders.
Alcohol also kills or weakens the brain cells in the frontal lobe, say medical experts. The frontal lobe is responsible for decision-making and judgment. That’s why your good intentions to wake up and enjoy the sunshine with a brisk walk along the beach at 6:30AM the next day fly out the window once you guzzle more than one beer below-zero. The brain cells also affected by alcohol are the hippocampus, where your memories are stored, and the amygdala, where emotions are processed. Hmmm. Now you know why you can’t remember how you got to your bed the day after, or why you put on that devil-may-care attitude when you zoned in on that hottie at the bar.
And the trips to the loo that are as frequent as Pacquiao’s TV endorsements? That’s because alcohol acts a diuretic, encouraging the body to lose more water than it should. And that in turn leads to dehydration.
Let’s not forget what your liver goes through. Your liver is the organ that breaks down alcohol for easier digestion. Knock back more than one cocktail in one sitting and your liver just can’t handle it. I love Doherty’s graphic analogy of overworked liver on alcohol: the “fat guy at a 5-K—slow and sluggish.” Since the liver can’t cope, there’s a build-up of toxic chemical byproduct—acetaldehyde. This chemical compound is said to be the reason for that blasted hangover the next day.
When that almighty hangover that makes you swear you will never ever drink again happens, what can you do? Drink lots of water. Have some toast or fruit the next day. Eat food or consume drinks with sugar (Gatorade) to replenish the sugar stores the alcohol depleted from your liver.
(Photo source: sxc.hu)