5 reasons why you can’t tolerate alcohol anymore, and why it's okay to minimize your drinking

If drinking a glass of wine is making you feel like you just got home after getting caught in a mosh pit during a heavy metal concert, this post is for you!


Nope, you’re not imagining things (and it’s definitely not just in your head!).  Gone are the days when you can spend a boozy evening with your friends then go about your normal morning the next day.


Now that you're a wee bit older (and hopefully wiser!) you reserve your happy hour adventures for a Friday or Saturday night so you can sleep like the dead the next day to recuperate.

Some people chalk up alcohol sensitivity and intolerance to age but there are certain people out there who have not yet reached their thirties and are avoiding alcoholic drinks like their ex. The worry about being tempted to imbibe these beverages and then suffer the consequences immediately after.  

Some people may experience the following alcohol intolerance symptoms ,or allergic reactions, to the ingredients of alcoholic beverages.

  • Facial redness (flushing)
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Diarrhoea
  • Red, itchy skin bumps (hives)
  • Low blood pressure
  • Worsening of pre-existing asthma
  • Runny or stuffy nose


Your body's reactions to alcohol could stem from a lot of things: gender, age, your preferred drink, genetics or sometimes your lifestyle.  



Studies show, on average, men and women usually peak in alcohol consumption in their mid-twenties, and although the volume of alcohol consumed slightly differs, they usually see these rates plateau and decline once they reach their 50s to 60s.  The composition of your body also changes as you age.  As you get older, Kenneth Mukamal, an associate professor of medicine from Harvard Medical School explains, the proportion of water in tissues declines, which means less water to dissolve alcohol.


IT'S IN YOUR DNA (no, not that Kpop song)

Your genetics is the cards you were dealt with.  Like it or not what runs through your body is heavily influenced by your parents.  An example is experiencing the so-called Asian flush.  Quite unfortunately for people with Chinese, Korean or Japanese descent, they are prone to having the Asian flush due to "genetic inability to efficiently process acetaldehyde, a toxic by-product of alcohol metabolism,” according to Dr Tan Ek Khoon, Associate Consultant  Department of Hepato-pancreato-biliary and Transplant SurgerySingapore General Hospital (SGH), a member of the SingHealth group.  Do note though, alcoholic intolerance or allergies also run in families not necessarily having Asian roots, it's just more prevalent in their bloodlines.  Some may have hereditary illnesses or diseases that influence their alcohol tolerance. 



Feel out of it with just a glass of wine or beer? The issue may be yeast overgrowth spreading in your body.  Yeast issues doesn't happen overnight.  It may take weeks, months or years for your body to react to yeast overgrowth. Sugar levels, products you use, prolonged use of antibiotic, etc. are just some of the factors that influence yeast imbalance.  



Notice how wine blogs or reviews include sulfites?  People who have allergies or asthma benefit from these ratings.  The United States and Australia are the only countries that require bottles to have sulfite levels included in their labels.   Although wine consumption is the usual culprit for those causes "red wine headaches", don't dismiss sulfites found in food like cured meats or cheese (which is usually consumed with wine!). 



Now here's a kicker, if you were able to tolerate wine before and discover that you're now just a "light drinker", it might just be your liver.  The liver is essential to metabolize carbs, fat and protein.  If you've been hearing about detoxifying, here's one of the organs we have in our body that does the job naturally!   The thing is, if our liver is not functioning at its optimal level, it will definitely affect not just our tolerance to alcoholic beverages; we also might experience these "stealth symptoms": 

  •  skin breakouts 
  •  weight gain
  • water retention
  • sensitivity to smells and metals
  • bloating
  • allergies
  • extreme fatigue, etc. 


As I said, the liver is one of the organs that help our body eliminate toxins.  Now, if you've been feeling these symptoms, my best advice is to approach someone who knows what they're doing. 

In episode #145 of the Less Stressed LIfe podcast, I talk about a few of the factors that reduce our tolerance to alcohol like the gene ALDH, sulfites in wine, yeast, and liver function. 

If you're still in doubt if you need to Detox, why not take this Detox Quiz to get some clarity.  




When we were younger, I mean, in our teens and our twenties, our bodies were fairly resilient. Yes. They were absolutely sending us signs and signals that weren't quite normal, but we were pretty good at powering through them at that point. But often people notice as they get older in their thirties, forties, fifties, sixties, that they may not be able to do some things like they once did. We could break down and hypothesize about each one of those things, because it really deals with wear and tear, which can often be addressed by supporting our body's mechanisms of energy, production and organ function. But let's start with not being able to handle alcohol as well as you once did. Now there's a few quick things that come to mind when considering a reduced tolerance to alcohol. There's a gene called ALD H and it means that the second step of alcohol metabolism doesn't really work efficiently.

So it's going to be worsened by yeast overgrowth. So genes are the cards you're dealt in life, but what's going on in your life affects how essentially the game is played or how they operate. So it's going to be worsened by yeast overgrowth, which is further perpetuated by some alcohol, usually wine or fermented beer. The outcome is that you feel drunk much faster, and you might feel like there's other symptoms of yeast issues. So you can have these issues, even if that gene is working optimally too, because lifestyle trumps gene. So if you still have these major overgrowths, sometimes you'll still feel like you have those symptoms. Another thing I think about specifically is sulfites and people that struggle with sulfites in wine solfa is converted by the body into sulfate. There's a few reasons people struggle with sulfites, but it gets worse with gut imbalances and liver insufficiency molybdenum, which is an essential mineral in the body is a co-factor in helping convert sulfite to sulfate high sulfites are not okay, and your body needs to convert them to sulfate.

That's essential. Molybdenum helps do that, and we get it in trace amounts to organ meats, grains legumes. Some people can get around wine headaches and sulfite symptoms with wine by doing small doses of molybdenum in wine. However, if you tolerated wine pretty well before, and you suspect gut or other liver symptoms, and I'll talk about those in a moment, you might want to work with a practitioner that knows what they're doing to correct gut and liver imbalances. That's one of the things we do in my private practice, for example, but there are many great practitioners and you just have to find the right one for you. The last thing that comes to mind, when I think about handling alcohol is your liver function. Now as the second largest organ, your liver is amazing. According to guidance, physiology texts, which is kind of the, one of the major physiology texts.

Our liver exchanges around six cups of fluid per minute. Our liver is essential for carbohydrate fat and protein metabolism, and it has multiple processes that help do its job. It also helps store B12, vitamin D vitamin a. I always want to oversimplify liver function as a liver factory. There's three essential phases in phase one. You're breaking down boxes in phase one. You're breaking out boxes in phase two, you're loading or conjugating them onto a truck. And in phase three, you're taking out the garbage. Now you take out the garbage through urine bowels and skin at the very minimum, the liver needs workers or nutrients to come out and do these processes. There are several biochemical reactions alone in phase two detoxification that include glucuronidation sulfation, which we just talked about and glutathione and amino acid conjugation. So what other stealth symptoms, that's what you really care about.

Show up when your liver isn't really functioning at its optimum or its fullest potential with all of its processes that it needs to do, because we know that you can get liver, enzyme testing, AST and alt, but that takes quite a bit to bring those lab results out of range. And you can improve when your body sends whispers instead of screams in advance of those screams for a lot of people with subpar functioning liver, some of those stealth symptoms do feel like the body screaming, and yet can't always be backed up with lab testing. Unfortunately, we just don't seem to have like really amazing testing that tells us when things are just sort of out of range. Now, keep in mind that you in blood sugar that trends up or cholesterol trending up can be a sign that the liver doesn't operate at full speed.

And sometimes this is related to a host of genetics, but also complicated by life. So remember, genetics are the cards you're dealt. Life is how those genetics express or function in the genes or how their genetic expression affects how fast enzymes work and enzymes or how everything works in our body. So let's talk about those stuff, symptoms back to those. So this is not a comprehensive list, but these are common ones I see in practice skin breakouts of all types. Liver is one piece of the puzzle because the skin is one of the safe ways our body eliminates waste, weight gain and water retention. If you're feeling bloated and puffy, there is major limp or fluid flow from the liver, with the liver being key and also in fat metabolism and other macronutrient metabolism, sometimes weight and water retention can be a problem. Since we're talking about poor elimination, not having a bowel movement.

Daily is definitely an issue. Increased bloating and gas are usually gut issues that put more pressure on the liver with the gut liver connection. I kind of like dumps into the liver. If you have sensitivity to smells or just overall tolerating chemicals, perfumes cleaning products, or even jewelry or metals, this can be related to how you process and eliminate toxins, which obviously affects your liver because allergies are related to histamine processing and elimination, which is really gut and liver metabolism. There are genes that affect histamine processing in allergies, but in episode 62, natural allergy relief, I go over these mechanisms, but allergies would be one of those stealth symptoms sleep, especially waking up between 12 and 3:00 AM is often considered a liver issue. And finally, at least one other big symptom can be excessive fatigue. Now that's pretty multilayer, but simply not processing things well is going to mean that you don't use your resources to make energy.

And adding more to the pile adds stress and issues with energy for a more comprehensive checklist, see episode a hundred of this podcast, the less stressed life podcast. Why am I so freaking tired? All of this to say liver symptoms are vast. And that was just a very, very, very short list. Testing can be underwhelming or it's an offshoot of a specific area of detoxification. So there are things out there I'm just going to mention these there's stuff out there about heavy metals and mycotoxins and other things. My point is is if you have any of these large things that are adding stress on the body, or even gut things, it's going to add more stress to the liver. And some of us, aren't going to clear that out very quickly. I don't have the best genetics for liver health, which means I've been a victim of just about all of these symptoms.

As I have traversed my own health journey, especially when it hit its most recent low in 2016. Now that I know detoxification support is just part of my routine. I know what to add, how it's gonna help my energy, how it's going to prevent my skin from me, itchy and breaking out and supporting my overall health, which is important to me. I don't want to spend money on trying to fix poor health issues or mysteries that could be addressed by supporting my body's natural processes so I can enjoy life better. I always tell people on calls that I'm kind of a simpleton and I'm just trying to support our overall function better because in theory, we should function properly, give everything just worked well, things will be fine. So I want you to know these things too. I don't want you to think that juice cleanses or clay or colon cleanses are equivalent to supporting detox.

They are not. That's not what that means. I want you to be able to navigate supplements and lifestyle choices that naturally support detoxification. And there's a lot of pieces to it. That's why I've made a quiz to assess your own toxic [email protected] forward slash detox. And that link is in the show notes and I'm doing a live masterclass on January 8th. Now don't worry. If you're listening to this past January 8th, you can still get the replay in this masterclass. I'm going to lay out detox context, one Oh one of liver physiology. So you can know how the pieces fit together. I think you need to understand big picture so you can zoom in. I'm

Going to go over how and how often you

Should give love to your detox pathways. So your skin digestion, energy and body can run as beautifully as you are. And I'm going to share a two week detox protocol. You can use to jumpstart, improving everything from fluid retention, to sleep quality, to energy and pitting out. Yes, I know who you are and I feel you use sweaty girl, my neighbors who don't sweat, that's like worse than sweating all the time. So anyway, we can talk about that in class. So you can get the detox quiz, which will take you to the masterclass live for January 8th or the replay. If it's after January 8th, by taking the detox [email protected] forward slash detox, or skip straight to the class in the show notes. And we'll definitely make time for your specific questions and our live masterclass, or you can submit them in advance. And I can't wait to see you there.

Do you need to detox? January is really a time where the word detox gets thrown around and people spew all kinds of craziness on both sides of the fence. But here's the thing we need to show respect where respect is due. My friends detox is amazing and I happen to have a pretty intimate connection and knowledge on what detox looks like. And when it is slowed from waking up with a puffy face or your eyes being swollen or retaining water weight, or having skin stuff like acne, eczema, et cetera, pop-up or identifying as a sweaty person, not handling alcohol like I did when I was 21, not waking up energized, waking up in the middle of the night, you've got some interesting eye symptoms I can trace to my detox systems. So what do you do? Well, thank God. This is a podcast and not a Twitter post because it doesn't fit in 140 characters.

When people ask me questions, like, what do you think of this chlorella supplement or dandelion tea or juice cleanse. I want to sit down and give you the one Oh one on what's happening inside your body. So, you know exactly if and what that tea or supplement will or will not help. That's why I'm doing a live detox masterclass on January 8th. Don't worry. A replay will be available if you register for the live version in my detox masterclass, you'll get the detox for one-on-one of what's going on on the inside and outside of your body. Plus simple shifts you can make to make these systems work better. You'll get how often you should give your body some love on your detox pathways so that your skin digestion, energy, and just your body in general runs at its absolute best. You'll also get my two week detox protocol that you can use then rinse and repeat to affect everything from how much fluid you're retaining to improving sleep and energy to how much you sweat to that bear knows that you have, I've been wanting to do this forever and we're finally doing it. So just go to Krista bigler.com forward slash detox to take my, do you need to detox quiz and register for this jam packed masterclass. You do not want to miss it. So we'll have this link in the show notes as well, but it's Krista bigler.com forward slash detox. I'll see you there.

Do you need a detox? 

Getting "too old" to handle alcohol?

Sensitive to smells or metals?

Skin issues?

Detox isn't just juice cleanses & snake oils. It's a process that our body is trying to do all day long.

Take the quiz to find out if it's time for a detox.


Take the Quiz.