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Fancy an alcoholic drink?

Posted on: 21st May 2018

Then read on to see what Dr Pradnya has to say about the effects on alcohol on the skin.

Alcohol is something that many of us enjoy but our love for drinking can hinder our quest for youthful looking skin . Is it possible to get a balance on the two?

Alcohol can affect the skin in many ways and have a great impact on skin aging.

Oxidation

It is a well known fact the stress can play a huge impact on skin ageing.  Oxidative stress is a type of stress that is linked to alcohol consumption and alcohol promotes the generation of ageing free radicals and can interfere with the body’s natural defence mechanisms against them. The breakdown of the alcohol in the liver can lead to more free radicals being produced .Alcohol also reduces the level of antioxidants known to counteract free radical damage, this in turn allows the cells to age faster.

Whilst we think that sun exposure and pollution affects free radicals, it is also important to bear in mind how diet and lifestyle can also impact on the systemic free radical load which increases skin ageing.

Inflammation

Alcohol metabolism directly leads to increased inflammation in the body. This in turn causes certain enzymes to breakdown protein structures including collagen and elastin which contribute to skin ageing.

Nutrition depletion

Alcohol can impair nutrient absorption,metabolism and utilisation and when consumed in excess leads to nutritional deficiencies eg Vitamin B. It has also been associated with declines in Vitamin A levels too which is essential for healthy skin cell turnover.

Regular alcohol consumption also decreases Vitamin C which is one the building blocks for collagen synthesis which is essential for skin health and ageing.

Sugar

In addition to the alcohol itself, many drinks also contain considerable amounts of sugar. Dietary glucose ( ie sugar) intake can affect how the body ages via a process called glycation. In essence the sugar, starts to make the collagen fibres in your skin more rigid which means they lose their elasticity therefore age the skin.

Dehydration

The link between alcohol consumption and dehydration has been well established.

Alcohol acts like a diuretic which means it increases urine production which increases the risk of dehydration.

Water is essential for the normal functioning of the skin and especially the outer layer. Aged skin does not have a great ability to keep hydrated and coupled with systemic dehydration from drinking alcohol makes the skin at greater risk of cell damage and inflammation.

Alcohol’s impact on lifestyle.

Other lifestyle factors can influence our skin and can be affected by when we drink and the impact on our skin. Drinking is also associated with other unhealthy habits and this can mean eating unhealthy foods. Sleep is also compromised when we consume alcohol. Sleep is essential for skin repair and collagen synthesis.

All these factors can further compromise skin health.

In January 2016 the Government issued new guidelines for the safe consumption of alcohol. For men and women it is now 14 units. This is the equivalent of six pints of average strength beer or cider, six small glasses of wine ( 175ml ) or six double shots of spirits. Therefore we should try and not consume more than six drinks containing an average % alcohol over the course of the week.

Spacing your drinking is also important as it allows your liver to have a rest from alcohol consumption. Avoid drinking every day.

It is easy to fall into the habit of drinking after a hard day or because its Friday or because of associations with certain situations. Be mindful of what triggers an urge to drink.

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