If you’re older and you still drink heavily, you’ve probably noticed that bouncing back from a hangover isn’t as easy as it once was. There was probably a time back in college where you can go out, get hammered, and wake up and go about your day. What happened? Is it all in your head?
It’s definitely not just your imagination. As we get older, our body’s ability to process alcohol and other toxins becomes less effective. Most people start to notice this effect in their early 30s, but its not unusual for hangovers to intensify as early as your mid twenties.
Your Body Produces Fewer Critical Enzymes Needed To Break Down Alcohol
Your body relies on enzymes – known as alcohol dehydrogenase (ALDH) and aldehyde dehydrogenase (ADH) – that break down the alcohol you drink. With age, your body’s production of these enzymes become less efficient.
Some research suggests that one of the components of alcohol – acetaldehyde – is primarily responsible for the severity of your hangover. Because ADH is responsible for breaking down acetaldehyde, the diminishing levels of ADH that come with aging mean that your hangovers will be more severe, and it’ll take you longer to recover.
Another contributing factor could be the general slowing down of your metabolism with age. As your body becomes slower to process substances in general, its ability to cleanse your system of alcoholic toxins can be affected as well.