Chaos to Calm

Perimenopause & Alcohol Intolerance: Uncovering the Hormonal Connection and How to Feel Fabulous Again

July 02, 2023 Sarah McLachlan Episode 16
Perimenopause & Alcohol Intolerance: Uncovering the Hormonal Connection and How to Feel Fabulous Again
Chaos to Calm
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Chaos to Calm
Perimenopause & Alcohol Intolerance: Uncovering the Hormonal Connection and How to Feel Fabulous Again
Jul 02, 2023 Episode 16
Sarah McLachlan

Ever feel like a single glass of wine hits you like an entire bottle? You're not alone, especially if you're a woman in your 40s and perimenopause. In this eye-opening episode, we'll uncover the reasons behind alcohol intolerance during perimenopause and how hormonal changes affect your body's response to alcohol. Not only that, but we'll explore the role of dopamine and pleasure-seeking in your drinking choices, as well as the common symptoms of alcohol intolerance, such as hot flashes, palpitations, anxiety, low mood, increased anger, upset stomach, diarrhoea, headaches and weight gain around the middle. 

Have you ever dealt with itchy eyes or a runny nose after indulging in a drink? It could be histamine overload. We'll discuss the connection between alcohol and histamine and how factors like allergies, intolerances, bacterial overgrowth and even fermented food can impact your histamine levels. Along with that, we'll touch on the influence of oestrogen, stress and genetics in raising histamine levels. 

Sarah also explains the underlying mechanisms behind alcohol intolerance, including liver prioritization, impact on blood glucose levels and insulin and the role of histamine. She emphasizes the importance of building a life that doesn't rely on alcohol for escape and suggests practical tips to support and nourish the body while making informed choices about alcohol consumption.

Stick around for some practical tips on managing histamine, like limiting alcohol consumption, avoiding sugary drinks and controlling stress. Say goodbye to perimenopause and alcohol intolerance woes and hello to feeling fabulous once again.

Send us a question for the FAQs segment or your feedback, we’d love to hear from you.

FREEBIES:

  • Caught in a hormonal storm? The Perimenopause Decoder is the ultimate guide to understanding if perimenopause hormone fluctuations are behind your changing mood, metabolism and energy after 40, what phase of perimenopause you're in and how much longer you may be on this roller coaster for.
  • Been told your blood test results are "normal" or "fine" while you feel far from your best? It's time to dig deeper and uncover the missing piece of the puzzle. Discover the power of optimal blood test analysis with The Blood Test Decoder: Optimal Ranges for Women Over 40.

To connect with Sarah and learn more about her services, visit her website at www.theperimenopausenaturopath.com.au, follow along on Instagram at @theperimenopausenaturopath.

Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

Ever feel like a single glass of wine hits you like an entire bottle? You're not alone, especially if you're a woman in your 40s and perimenopause. In this eye-opening episode, we'll uncover the reasons behind alcohol intolerance during perimenopause and how hormonal changes affect your body's response to alcohol. Not only that, but we'll explore the role of dopamine and pleasure-seeking in your drinking choices, as well as the common symptoms of alcohol intolerance, such as hot flashes, palpitations, anxiety, low mood, increased anger, upset stomach, diarrhoea, headaches and weight gain around the middle. 

Have you ever dealt with itchy eyes or a runny nose after indulging in a drink? It could be histamine overload. We'll discuss the connection between alcohol and histamine and how factors like allergies, intolerances, bacterial overgrowth and even fermented food can impact your histamine levels. Along with that, we'll touch on the influence of oestrogen, stress and genetics in raising histamine levels. 

Sarah also explains the underlying mechanisms behind alcohol intolerance, including liver prioritization, impact on blood glucose levels and insulin and the role of histamine. She emphasizes the importance of building a life that doesn't rely on alcohol for escape and suggests practical tips to support and nourish the body while making informed choices about alcohol consumption.

Stick around for some practical tips on managing histamine, like limiting alcohol consumption, avoiding sugary drinks and controlling stress. Say goodbye to perimenopause and alcohol intolerance woes and hello to feeling fabulous once again.

Send us a question for the FAQs segment or your feedback, we’d love to hear from you.

FREEBIES:

  • Caught in a hormonal storm? The Perimenopause Decoder is the ultimate guide to understanding if perimenopause hormone fluctuations are behind your changing mood, metabolism and energy after 40, what phase of perimenopause you're in and how much longer you may be on this roller coaster for.
  • Been told your blood test results are "normal" or "fine" while you feel far from your best? It's time to dig deeper and uncover the missing piece of the puzzle. Discover the power of optimal blood test analysis with The Blood Test Decoder: Optimal Ranges for Women Over 40.

To connect with Sarah and learn more about her services, visit her website at www.theperimenopausenaturopath.com.au, follow along on Instagram at @theperimenopausenaturopath.

Sarah McLachlan:

Hey there, i'm Sarah McLachlan. Thanks for joining me on the Chaos to Calm podcast, a podcast designed for women over 40 who think that changing hormones might be messing with their mood, metabolism and energy and want to change that in a healthy, sustainable and permanent way. Each episode will explore topics related to health and wellness for women in their 40s, like what the heck is happening to your hormones, what to do about it with nutrition, lifestyle and stress management, and inspiring conversations with guests sharing their insights and tips on how to live your best life in your 40s and beyond. So if you're feeling like you're in the midst of a hormonal storm and don't want perimenopause to be horrific, then join me on Chaos to Calm, as I share with you how to make it to menopause without it wrecking your relationships and life. Hi and welcome to the Chaos to Calm podcast, where we discuss how to master the chaos of changing hormones, mood, metabolism and energy in your 40s. I'm Sarah, the perimenopause natural path, your host, welcoming you to episode number 16. Today, we're going to be talking all about alcohol intolerance. Have you like been wondering what the heck is happening that you maybe have like one glass of wine these days and next minute you are waking up feeling like actually you might have drunk a whole bottle of wine, when you know you haven't. But yeah, that's how you're feeling, then that, my friends, is probably alcohol intolerance contributing there, and that would be part of your perimenopause journey. So let's get into it. We are going to talk all about the why and when and how it all happens and, of course, practical tips to help you support and nourish your body and make informed choices about what you're doing.

Sarah McLachlan:

I don't want to encourage you to drink alcohol. You know, ultimately it is a toxin. I know I always feel like I'm a death eater, you know, like the death eaters from Harry Potter, when I'm talking about something like this, like I'm coming in and everything turns all black and dark and then it's like the joy gets sucked out of the room. I hope that it doesn't feel like that. I do feel a bit like that or the grinch. You know I'm telling you to cut all the stuff. But look honestly, your body is probably telling you that it's not enjoying it and it's time to rethink your drink. And I'm here to explain to you why your body is telling you that, because it is really common, you know.

Sarah McLachlan:

We actually, you know, with mummy wine culture and alcohol culture in Australia particularly, you're always encouraged to like wind down. Oh, you've deserved it, you've worked hard, you've had a hard week or you've had a hard day, or you know you're feeling irritated, agitated, crappy because perimenopause or whatever, i don't know. It's such a you know common narrative there that you have a drink and make it go away. So, yes, alcohol does tend to relax you and, and of course we are less inhibited the more that we have.

Sarah McLachlan:

And the first two drinks will give you a dopamine hit, dopamine being your mojo and motivation neurotransmitter or brain compound. It makes you feel good, it's your pleasure seeking compound. So, yeah, you get a couple, you know, a couple of drinks, a couple of hits of dopamine. You feel a bit better, it's true. After that, though, you're just getting drunk. You're actually not getting any dopamine hit, so it's not really doing anything for you there except overloading your liver and your body and messing with your hormones. So it's interesting that that's how we deal with things. We try and suppress and avoid feeling emotions or or processing what has happened, or, you know, it's really about trying to escape life. So I really encourage you to build a life that you don't need to escape from Sure, have a drink. If you want to have a drink, like I said, those first two, you're going to get a dopamine hit. But have a drink because you like the taste of it or you know you enjoy it as part of your meal, using it to unwind, or, you know, suppress how we're feeling and and that isn't it's. You know what we're conditioned to do and encouraged to do, but actually it's not the best for us in terms of our mental and overall health in the long term. Anyway, i'll hop down off my soapbox now Let's get into why or what you might feel.

Sarah McLachlan:

So alcohol, when you're drinking alcohol and your body's not tolerating it, you might experience some symptoms like hot flashes, palpitations, anxiety, low mood, particularly after you finish drinking, but even sometimes while you're drinking increased anger, irritability, frustration, tummy upset, diarrhea, headaches during the drinking session, but especially afterwards as well, and weight gain around the middle. Now you might get some of these, or the whole kit and caboodle, but don't they have a lot in common with perimenopause symptoms? In fact, a lot of them. You could explain them away as perimenopause symptoms. So I'm asking you, i'm wondering very curious here could it be perhaps your drinks making you have those symptoms, rather than perimenopause making those symptoms. If you already have those perimenopause symptoms, you will find that alcohol probably highly likely to make it worse for you. And you know that flush, particularly the alcohol intolerance is. You know you'll go red when you're drinking, red on the cheeks, red on your face and that kind of thing there as well, feel that overall heat in your body. So what's going on? What is happening that we no longer able to drink as much as you're used to, which maybe is not such a bad thing Anyway.

Sarah McLachlan:

So there's a few primary mechanisms at work that we'll talk about here today Your liver, your blood glucose levels and histamine. So, with the liver, alcohol is a priority for the liver to detoxify because it is a toxin, as I said, and it will put alcohol to the top of the queue, ahead of other stuff like hormone metabolism and nutrient metabolism and detoxification. So, as a result, when you're drinking alcohol, you have fewer nutrients to access and use and you know that metabolism of alcohol is nutrient dense, it takes a lot and it can throw off the balance of your hormones like cortisol, testosterone, estrogen and others there as well. So when your liver is busy processing alcohol. It's not working on your hormones and metabolizing your hormones. Now I did do an episode on estrogen earlier on and it's estrogen that takes the hit there or can increase in your blood because it's not being removed when it needs to. When it's high and too high, it makes mischief and think of you know estrogen is stimulating, it can make us more agitated, irritated, all of those things when it's too high.

Sarah McLachlan:

So alcohol and your blood glucose levels in insulin, you know alcohol is treated like a sugar, regardless of what you're drinking or what you mix it with. You know you're not having a Bacardi and Choroke, that's fine. But you know I mean tonic's full of sugar, with the gin and tonic lovers. You know, even a Vodkasota boundary soda body treats it like sugar. So it does impact your blood glucose levels and therefore your insulin levels and can lead to more body fat, particularly abdominal fat storage. If you drink beer, well, you know I mean you look at older men that drink a lot of beer. They all have that beer gut. It's carb. You know that's alcohol belly. It's a, treated like a carbohydrate, like glucose, and Stacks on around the middle there. So you know like if it's spiking your blood sugar levels and insulin's going up, then it also comes crashing down right And so you can get those mood swings associated with it. You get that low energy that comes with too high or too low blood glucose levels and, like I said, fat storage and just feeling pretty off and crappy. So remember that it can feed into your perimenopause symptoms as well, and the estrogen fluctuations can impact your insulin sensitivity and your blood sugar levels as well. So it really can put you on that roller coaster ride of how you're feeling in terms of your mood and energy.

Sarah McLachlan:

Let's have a talk about histamine while we're here, because this is a big player in alcohol intolerance and also in food sensitivities and and intolerances in perimenopause as well. It's a really common, sometimes overlooked, cause of your alcohol intolerance there. Because histamine's a neurotransmitter, it's also an immune compound in our body. It's essential, like you know. It's important for your nervous system function, immunity, inflammation. But we want to, you know, like Goldilocks's porridge, just right, we don't want too much, we don't want too little, just right. Because it is excitatory, which means it amps up activity, increases activity. Some of the things that histamine does in the body is it helps with blood vessel dilation and flushing, bringing blood to the area for healing, like if you sprain your ankle. You want blood to the area to help, you know, with the repair and bring the immune cells there to repair it and the nutrients to rebuild the tissue.

Sarah McLachlan:

Runny nose, itchy eyes, itchy skin in hives, puffy face and swelling, and even like fingers, toes, feet, all of that sort of stuff as well Headache, diarrhea, upset, tummy, mmm. It can be an irritating thing, that histamine, so you don't want too much of it in your body. Now, what does that have to do with alcohol? Well, when you drink alcohol, it increases the release of histamine in your body. You know what it also increases the release of histamine in your body Is estrogen. So I want you to think about histamine and how your body can cope with that. Like a bucket, so you have a bucket of histamine or potential histamine capacity in the day. It has a little hole letting out some of histamine and that represents like what your body can metabolize or process and that's sort of emptying it out as you're putting stuff into it. So there are many things that contribute to higher histamine levels and so they could be allergies and intolerances, hay fever, things like that. And especially if your allergies or intolerances aren't identified and not managed well, they will add to your histamine load there.

Sarah McLachlan:

A bacterial overgrowth in your gastrointestinal system and your intestines, like either in your small intestine or in your large intestine. That can increase your histamine levels And that can often happen in perimenopause as well. As are the muscles around your intestines less strong and moving food through at different rates and you less digestive power than bacteria can overgrow and become in balance there. For any fermented food like cheeses, sauerkraut, kombucha, yogurt, kefir wine, you know, spirits all of those things they all contain histamine. And other foods can trigger histamine release in your body Things like MSG, glutamate, lectins, additives and preservatives in food.

Sarah McLachlan:

Stress, stress is inflammatory, it can increase histamine release and genetics. So your genetics can impact how quickly you can clear histamine. So think of that hole in the bucket. Your genetics will decide whether how quickly your liver can metabolize or the capacity for your liver to metabolize that histamine. There's also things that can block the enzyme that helps process histamine. So things like tea, cola, energy drinks, some medications, can interfere with that as well. So if you might have a couple of those factors in place and alcohol is just really filling up the bucket along with those things quicker than what your body can empty it or metabolize it out.

Sarah McLachlan:

So I have overflows and floods your system with too much histamine, and that's when you can feel like that heat, that flashing, that nausea and, you know, urgency to go to the toilet and use your bowels, and particularly itchy. I have some clients who'll be like, yeah, i'm gonna have this food or I drink this thing, get these itchy eyes, get swelling on my eyelids. And you know, tell me all the classic science of the high histamine. Now, i mentioned before as well that estrogen is something that can increase histamine as well. So when estrogen is high and think in early perimenopause, we know what rollercoaster is. It goes higher than high and lower than low, all over the shop. But when it's high you might tolerate wine less than what you would some other time when it's lower. So I guess what the sequelae there, or the other side of that too, is that you will potentially get your alcohol tolerance back as you move post menopause. There as well, we're in the meantime, though.

Sarah McLachlan:

What can you do? Well, i'm glad you asked, thank you. The simple I mean the simple solution is don't drink alcohol, but you know that's not an option for everyone. I know you want other options as well, so don't worry, here's some more. Don't save up your drinks, okay. So don't you better off drinking like one glass you know, a standard glass, not a home pool a few nights a week, versus having an entire bottle on a Friday night? And if you know if you must, then you know, follow your, your, your government's, current guidelines on alcohol intake, and I think that's about one standard drink per day for women at the moment, with a few non alcohol or a few alcohol free days per week.

Sarah McLachlan:

And making a switch, like taking the wine out which is higher in histamine, and trying clear spirits, can be beneficial, but just make sure, like, if you're flow on effect here, stick to lower sugar options as well. So if your mixer is tonic, then try and choose a lower sugar one, but not one without official sweetness, please. Or use plain soda water so that you're not increasing sugar, because that's going to increase or make you feel icky as well and can impact you in terms of flushes, and because it's messing with your blood sugar levels and your insulin, which is going to mess with your hay feeling as well. So switch out your wine or, if you're going to have wine, make it like a Spritzers, put some soda water in it as well and it's watered down. Please make sure you have at least a glass of water in between your drink, sarah, as well.

Sarah McLachlan:

I haven't mentioned oh, i have mentioned stress. I was gonna say I have not mentioned stress so far. Here we are 15 minutes into the podcast. I haven't mentioned it. Here we go. You need to manage your stress for each region's sake your blood glucose, liver function and now your histamine load. So you've got lots of reasons to be working on your busyness and what you're doing and what you're saying.

Sarah McLachlan:

Yes to Now vitamin C and high quercetin foods. These will help clear histamine. So red, green and purple veggies, as well as the cruciferous or brassicas like cabbage, kale, cauliflower, radish, rocket, mustard, greens all of those lovely, bitter and sulfurous veg Don't forget your leeks and and onions and things like that too, those sulfur rich ones, because they will support your liver. And fresh fruit, of course, is vitamin C rich and has the quesiton apple. Every day. I tell my clients have an apple a day. There you go, quesiton rich and it will help you with your alcohol metabolism.

Sarah McLachlan:

B6 rich foods or B6 vitamins. And if you're gonna have B vitamins. Please have them all together like, don't have individual ones. That throws your biochemical pathways off. Essential fatty acids omega-3, flaxseed oil is a great one, olive oil, avocado oil, fish, fatty fish, all those sorts of things. There are essential fatty acids, walnuts all beautiful sources there and support your detox pathways so that you can eliminate the alcohol once your liver's done the work. And drinking fresh filtered water daily is the perfect way to do that. And also making sure you use your balance every day is great too. So you will want to have lots of fiber rich foods and that will help with your gastrointestinal system and your balance.

Sarah McLachlan:

A lot of people think all gut health, i'm gonna have fermented foods and some. If your histamine load is high, that's like the worst thing for you to do. Right, then it's gonna blow your guts apart. You will be on the toilet, my friend, regretting that decision. So just stick with the prebiotics as such. The fibers you know have your cooked and cooled rice and and potatoes, and also those cruciferous veg I mentioned cabbage, kale, cauliflower all super high in fiber and really wonderful for providing what your gut microbes really like to thrive on.

Sarah McLachlan:

And some herbal tea. So you know we've talked before about switching out some of your caffeine and putting in things like dandelion root tea or chai and turmeric, ginger, peppermint, nettle tea. Nettle tea is great because it's traditionally used as an anti-histamine, so nettle leaf tea is really good for that. You might even have nettles growing in your garden, in the weeds in your garden. Don't kill them. Cook them up and eat them. They'll be great if you're feeling a bit flushed and hot and sweaty from your alcohol drink. So yeah, that was my tips there for you, just to summarise.

Sarah McLachlan:

Making sure you switch your wine out to those clear spirits and the low sugar options. Don't save your drinks up. Don't binge drink. Manage your busyness and your stress. In terms of the foods to eat, we're looking for lots of veggies and fruit, particularly red, green and purple veg. Also, don't forget to have an apple a day for the quest eaten and plenty of fresh filtered water and your herbal teas there as well. One last thing don't forget to eat before you have the treats and alcohol falls into the treats section there.

Sarah McLachlan:

Have some protein rich food before your first sip always. So if you're going out, have a little baggie of nuts like almonds in your handbag and just have five or six of those, or if there's food and hors d'oeuvres and stuff like that, or there's some cheese on the plate, have something that's protein rich before your first sip. It will help ease the burden on your blood sugar levels and your insulin there and make you feel much better the next day. So cheers to getting to know your body better and understanding what's going on, and cheers We've made it to the end of another episode.

Sarah McLachlan:

Thank you so much for sharing your time with me again today. I hope that you've found it really enlightening as we've unraveled the secrets around alcohol intolerance or interpreted those messages that your body is giving you. So we've talked about from your liver, its priorities, blood glucose spikes and histamine overload, covered a lot of ground here and hopefully now that will help you be able to crack the code on why your body is saying no to that beloved drink. So I hope the practical tips that we've finished up with, or that the food based ideas there, will help you support, nourish your body and give it what it needs. So, yeah, grab a glass of those low histamine spirits, save us some clear beer aka water and herbal teas, and set some boundaries to manage your stress like a boss. Your body will thank you and before you know it, you'll be enjoying your drink without flushing, redder than a beetroot.

Sarah McLachlan:

Now don't forget to share this episode with a friend who is wondering why they're feeling rotten and hungover after one wine. And until next time, have a wonderful week and stay true to your fabulous alcohol intolerance self. It's really common for women over 40 to experience the chaos of changing hormones, mood, metabolism and energy, but I hope you know now that common doesn't have to equal normal for you or them. You can help others understand they aren't alone in feeling this way and that perimenopause doesn't have to be horrific, by subscribing, leaving a review and sharing this podcast with other women in their 40s and beyond. Thanks so much for listening and sharing your time with me today in this chaos to calm conversation.

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