The Science Behind Why Your Body Doesn’t Want You To Drink Certain Types Of Alcohol

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Alcohol is a finicky thing. An agave-based tequila might suit you just fine while a dark brown bourbon makes your skin super red and splotchy. Or maybe a wheat beer goes down nice and smooth but the super-hoppy double IPA immediately makes your stomach do a series of backflips. What gives? Why does your body accept certain types of alcohol without a fuss and pitch a temper tantrum with others? Well, let’s see what science has to say about it.

Grain Alcohols

If you find that a particular bottle leaves your skin covered in a rash and makes it hot to the touch, you could have a minor allergy to the particular grain used in your drink of choice. Whiskey is generally made from fermented grain mash including barley, corn, rye and wheat, and while vodka is most often made from potatoes, some distillers use cereal grains instead. These two liquors are the most likely to inspire an uncomfortable reaction, so if you notice unsavory symptoms as you sip on these kinds of cocktails, consider switching it up. Rum, for instance, is made from sugarcane and sits well with most people.

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Unsplash/Kelsey Chance

Craft Beer

If the never-ending IPA trend causes you major gastrointestinal stress, you’re not alone. IPAs are some of the hoppiest beers on the market, and the bitter acids derived from those hops actually stimulate additional gastric acid production. This reaction from your digestive system can lead to acid reflux, heartburn, indigestion, gas, cramping and more. Luckily, brews that go lighter on the hops like stouts and wheat beers (so long as you don’t have a dietary issue with wheat, too) will be much kinder to your sensitive stomach.


If you get a nasty hangover from just a single glass of a vino, then you probably have the sulfites to blame. Sulfur dioxide is the main preservative winemakers use to prevent the growth of unwanted yeast and bacteria in their finished products, and many people are super sensitive to these compounds. So if you love your wine, you’re best off buying an organic bottle because they contain only half of the maximum legal limit of sulfur dioxide, dramatically reducing your consumption immediately.

Once you know which types of alcohol affect your body in not-so-fun ways, you’re best off limiting your consumption of them or avoiding them altogether. Because honestly, once you start feeling all sorts of crappy, the cocktail really isn’t worth it.


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