Types of Alcohol and How They Affect the Body Differently
Ever have a friend tell you they don’t drink wine because it gives them headaches? Or maybe they don’t drink whiskey, because it makes them angry? Or, maybe after a bit of rum, you have your own theories on various types of alcohol and how they affect the body differently. Or you might think “you guys already told us alcohol is basically alcohol regardless of the type, so of course this is all just in peoples’ heads”! Well, it turns out it’s a bit more complex than that.
It’s true that alcohol is just alcohol; in fact, every standard drink (what you’d get at a bar) has the exact same amount of alcohol in it. A shot, a beer, a glass of wine...they’re all the same, alcohol wise. Of course, as we’ve already discussed, there’s also congeners in different types of alcohol. Might those make a difference? Well, let’s put it this way. We don’t have any evidence that they do make a difference. We also don’t have any evidence that they don’t.
There is one clear difference among different types of alcohol however: what we drink them with and how we drink them. Mixed drinks frequently include sugar, which will perk you up and give you a bit of energy (and a crash later). A shot may have an identical amount of alcohol as a beer or a glass of wine, but shots...well, they don’t take too long to drink. And that means your BAC is going to go up much quicker, which will have an impact on your body.
In fact, differences in BAC may explain a lot of the perceived differences among various types of alcohol and our body’s reaction. We drink different types of alcohol at different rates, varying not just based on what we’re drinking, but who we’re with and where we’re drinking. If you drink wine at home but have a tendency to drink certain kinds of liquor with friends...well, you might be more apt to feel a slight buzz in your head after a single glass of wine than you are after your fourth tequila in an hour.
At the end of the day, there probably are some differences among different types of alcohol and how they affect the body. While alcohol is alcohol, what we drink with it, how fast we drink it, and other differences can make a very real distinction in how we experience a glass of wine versus a cocktail. And, at the end of the day, our bodies are all weird and different in their own ways. So, if you believe white wine gives you headaches and tequila makes you giggle...well, it’s entirely possible you’re just weird that way.
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