[HEALTH]Have a drink, but do it ‘cool’The drinking season is upon us, when we’re barraged with various year-end parties featuring high school alumni, college alumni, co-workers and every other social group known to man and woman. The streets are festooned with stumbling drunks. Everything looks beautiful until the beer googles come off, and then you wake up and realize you gave all your money to the taxi driver whose back seat you vomited over.
This year might be different: the liquor company Diageo Korea, the JoongAng Ilbo and Citizen’s Coalition for Safety, a non-government organization, are holding a “Cool Drinker” campaign to encourage people to have fun drinking, but to drink responsibly, and definitely not to drive drunk.
So how can we drink “cool?”
In order to drink the right amount, calculate your limit not by bottles but by the actual amount of alcohol consumed.
Regular soju, beer or whiskey can be reckoned by glasses. The typical 50-milliliter soju glass will contain 8 grams of alcohol, a 250-milliliter glass of beer will have 8.8 grams, and a 30-milliliter shot of whiskey, 9.5 grams.
“If you want to stay ‘cool,’ a man should drink less than 16 grams of alcohol (two shots of soju) and a woman should drink less than 8 grams of alcohol (one shot of soju),” said Lee Moo-hyeong, the head of Dasarang Central Hospital, which treats patients suffering from alcoholism.
People drink more slowly when socializing because conversation and dining interrupts the drinker; without something to talk about or focus on, people drink more and drink faster. Conversation also facilitates breathing, which expells alcohol ― about 10 percent of what you drink goes back out your mouth in your breath. Those who drink alone not only become intoxicated faster, but are more likely to form a drinking habit.
The same amount of alcohol can generate different reactions in different drinkers. Some people lack an enzyme that metabolizes acetaldehyde, a component in alcohol, and get red in the face after a single drink. It may look funny, but it’s advantageous: their body is telling them to stop drinking. Those with the enzyme have to learn on their own when to stop.
“One who doesn’t get drunk easily needs to stop drinking at the point when they feel good,” said Cho Hee-gyeong, a doctor of Family Medicine at Konkuk University Hospital.
And what about the day after, when everything is somehow too loud and all that drinking dried out your mouth?
“In order to recover from a hangover next day, it’s better to eat soup with a plain broth, rather than spicy broth that stimulates the stomach,” said Choi Ho-soon, a doctor of the Internal Medicine at Hanyang University Hospital.
Bean sprouts, dried pollack, clam, Chinese cabbage and spinach soups are good for recovering from hangovers. Warm milk and coffee also help, as well as fruits like persimmons, which have an abundance of tannin, a chemical compound which helps to counteract hangovers and is often found in wine.
Alcohol slows one’s reactions, raises the body temperature and saps endurance. Having a heavy workout within 24 hours of drinking can actually be very dangerous.
“While exercising, lactic acid, the substance that arouses fatigue, will accumulate in the muscles, and alcohol accelerates the production of lactic acid. The possibility of falling into a fit of convulsions is high if one exercises the day after drinking alcohol,” said Kim Kyung-soo, a doctor of Family Medicine at Kangnam St. Mary’s Hospital.
Alcohol also reduces the ability to produce sugar, the source of energy. That’s why one feels weaker and one’s endurance declines.
by Park Tae-kyun
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