Bulletproof Radio Short Report – Hacking the Hangover – #217
By: Dave Asprey
Why you should listen –
The Bulletproof Radio Short Report is a highly condensed show to quickly bring you the most important ways to upgrade yourself and kick ass at life. Enjoy the show!
Todays episode was shot during PaleoF(x), one of the largest Paleo conferences in the country. I talk about what happens when you consume alcohol, which types of alcohol are okay to drink and which ones to avoid, supplementing for hangover cures and recovery, and common toxins found in alcohol.
What You Will Hear
- 0:16 – Cool Fact of the Day!
- 1:24 – Is alcohol okay?
- 3:30 – Hack your hangover
- 7:48 – Hydration and supplements
- 9:57 – Top three recommendations for avoiding a hangover
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Dave: Hey everyone, it’s Dave Asprey and this is Bulletproof Radio’s Short Report, which is a highly condensed show to bring you the most important ways to upgrade yourself. It’s not a full interview. Today’s cool fact of the day is that some people can get drunk naturally.
Fermentation happens when enzymes that are produced by yeast convert sugar in whatever kinds of foods into ethanol. It can happen in a brewery tank, but it can also happen in your gut. When it happens, you can get between .01 and .03 milligrams of alcohol per 100 mills of blood.
Japanese doctors actually call this auto-brewery syndrome and have found it in patients where Candida, an aggressive yeast that doesn’t really have a healthy place in the human body, takes over in the intestines and actually makes enough alcohol to make you feel drunk. That would kind of suck.
I’m filming today at Paleo FX. It’s an unfamiliar background here. I’m speaking on two panels, one on bio-hacking, one on the role of carbohydrates. Tomorrow I give a big keynote presentation about willpower. Apologize for any strange lighting and whatever else. This is still an awesome Short Report and you’re probably listening to this while you drive anyway.
I’m going to answer some q and a. These are just questions that I hear a lot. One of the questions I hear quite a bit is about alcohol, so I’m going to zoom in on that.
Is alcohol okay? Short answer? Alcohol’s okay in that you can probably tolerate it. Is alcohol a performance enhancing substance? Is it an ideal way to put glycogen into your body? Actually, no it’s not.
I hear a lot of things like “Is alcohol paleo?” And I’m like “I don’t know. Bulletproof Diet is similar to paleo, not the same.” I’m here at a Paleo conference and I consider Paleo people my people, but we have different opinions. Not even all Paleo people agree on it. There’s a particular fascination with red wine, one that I don’t share because there are much better ways to get polyphenols and anti-oxidants. If you just want to be social with alcohol, there’s one set of answers. If you want to be a little bit more hardcore about it and party hearty, there’s probably a different answer. We’ll talk about things like hangovers and what to do about that.
The good thing is, there is a way to drink, even have a few drinks sometimes without harming yourself without having bad effects. Unless you’re not well. If you’re not well, or if you have a particular intolerance to alcohol, then you should just avoid the stuff but if you’re at full strength and you have some alcohol, don’t count it to be good for you no matter how much you want it to be true. All right, fine. There’s a lot of things you do, like stay up late and watch movies. That’s not that good for you either, but you do it, so a drink or two here or there isn’t going to be the end of the world, but you can reduce that impact.
Personally, I don’t really drink. Drinking makes me tired. It makes me not feel good the next day, even if I have one drink, but I also have a history of toxic mold exposure in my bedroom as a child. I also have a history of obesity, and chronic auto immunity. In other words, my biological template probably isn’t as strong as yours. I’m pretty darn strong and resilient now, but that’s because I’ve learned where the sources of kryptonite are, and I’ve made a practice of avoiding them. Alcohol, even for people who are healthy, depending on what kind of alcohol you drink, how often, when and other factors, it does make you crankier and moodier the next day. It makes you more tired. It’s subtle and it’s not that useful for performing really well.
If you check out the blog, there’s a post called how to hack your hangover where I write about how you can use bio-hacking to blunt what happens when you’re drinking. One of the big problems that I outline in that alcohol info-graphic is what happens in the first step of alcohol detox. The first step is that the liver creates aldehyde from alcohol.
Aldehyde is basically a metabolite of alcohol. Aldehyde is really bad for you. It’s an even stronger glycating agent than fructose.
What that means in normal terms is that it causes tissue damage. Do you ever throw onions in a frying pan and watch them turn brown? That’s glycation. It’s the browning of sugars. This is what causes a lot of the aging, and potentially some of the cancer causing effects of alcohol. Did I say cancer and alcohol together? Don’t believe me? Go to PubMed and search Cancer and alcohol and see how much cancer is related to alcohol consumption. You won’t like what you find. However, I’m not convinced that it’s just aldehyde that causes that problem. We’ll talk about that little bit more.
One of the first things you do to lower this is you can take supplements that let your liver make more glutathione, because glutathione levels … glutathione is what prevents aldehyde from forming at such high levels so if you do this right, you enjoy the alcohol, the aldehyde spike doesn’t happen. You get a blunt rise in it because your liver was basically upgraded ahead of time.
You can do some of this with food and you can do a lot more with supplements and that’s kind of cool. So here’s what to do if you’re going to drink. Step one: chose the alcohol that has the least hangover problems. That means distilled, clear, unsweetened, uncolored spirits. Vodka, Everclear, tequila, gin, whiskey. Those things are generally on the more positive side of things because all you have to do is deal with alcohol toxicity. It’s already been filtered through activated charcoal and it’s been distilled. Those are purification steps.
When you get to the middle of this spectrum you get these sweetened, high-fructose, artificially colored, light-blue colored alcohols because it’s all random chemicals put in there. Things like that, you just deal with the alcohol and you’re dealing with the extra load of that sugar and the other crap that’s in there. Not so good for you.
When you get to the other end, you get to, say, dry white French wines which are relatively low in the other toxins that come in there and then you get to your red wines and then beer. Red wine and then beer are documented to be high in ochratoxin A which is a toxin that directly effects your kidneys and your bladder.
It’s linked to cancer in kidneys and bladder and it is a common mycotoxin. One of the reasons that you feel crankier is that you’re drinking unfiltered yeast when you drink those types of alcohol and just like with coffee, European standards for red wine are very different than American standards. If you go out there and find a red wine with a yellow label that says basically not for export this is European wine that is not allowed to be exported because it’s that good. The levels of allowable ochratoxin in that are tightly controlled for European consumption and what do you know, when you drink that you’re going to feel different than if you drink a wine that’s in the US where American wine isn’t subject to those same limits.
The Europeans will ship you European wine, but they ship the stuff that doesn’t meet those very tight, stringent standards. This is why letting the charcoal do the filtering for you is a really good idea instead of letting your liver and kidneys and your organs do the filtering. If you don’t believe me, drink three beers and see how you feel and perform. Look at your heart rate variability, look at your vigilance, look at cognitive measures of executive function for next three days and do the same thing with vodka. Hold the other variables constant, there is a noticeable difference in this stuff and that’s why. In fact, that’s why beer makes you have to pee more than a glass of water and vodka. It’s because your body gets that toxin and says, “Jeez, this stuff is poison for my bladder and my kidneys,” dilute it and get it out of here. That’s why you have to pee a lot when you drink beer it’s not just the water in the beer. There’s a signal to your body that says, get out of this.
First thing is, chose the hard stuff. Drink the hard stuff; you can mix with other stuff if you want, but drink the hard stuff, it’s better for you. Step two: hydrate heavily. So drink a glass of water for every drink of alcohol you have ideally near the same time. This is because having more water available means that you can slow down the rate that the alcohol goes in because your body has to basically sort it out from the water and that’s good because that lowers the aldehyde spike. It also let’s you stay hydrated.
Step three: That conversion of alcohol into aldehyde … This is by the way something that causes faster wrinkles and aging so if you don’t want to look old after you drink or because you drink, then you’d want to do this step. Before you take each drink, take a Vitamin C capsule which is really an interesting way of creating glutathione in the liver. You could also consider taking Unfair Advantage which is going to help your mitochondria work better. Mitochondria are involved in detox.
The very best you can do for drinking is to use the glutathione force product. Glutathione Force is something that I make and actually I do profit from selling this but I also use it myself. I only make stuff that I want to use. The reason I make this stuff is that allows you to absorb glutathione through the lining of the gut which is normally not possible. We take the glutathione which is a large molecule we package it in a lyposome and then we take it with a lactadherin which means that the gut loves lyposomes it loves lactadherin so it absorbs very quickly at a level much higher than a plain lyposome.
Just unprotected glutathione gets digested, you don’t get any benefit at all so it’s kind of a cool hack. It doesn’t taste very good, in fact, it tastes terrible, but that’s what I use if I’m going to drink. I drink maybe once or twice a year and I try to drink red wine that’s older than I am and I take the other thing that I recommend is activated charcoal. Activated charcoal let’s you basically mop up what’s left so if the alcohol itself is not filtered, take the alcohol with you so you can at least take advantage of the affinity that those toxins have being positively charged for the charcoal which is negatively charged and has a large surface area. So basically you take a sponge for toxins. If you don’t believe me, just go out and take some activated charcoal, you will feel different the next morning. It’s so profoundly simple. You can just very obviously notice this.
Just to some that up, take Vitamin C if you’re going to drink. Consider cranking up your glutathione levels. Consider cranking up your mitochondria levels which make you feel much better the next morning and then take some activated charcoal when you’re done drinking because charcoal will absorb those other compounds if you take them at the same time. If you only do three steps and no other step, you’ll probably feel okay the next morning. If you do all the step’s you’ll probably feel better. If you think you’re going to have one red wine every night this week or every week in order to feel better or in order to just relax or unwind, I think you’re increasing your toxic burden and it’s not good for you.
Why do I think this? Because the half-life of ochratoxin A is 35.3 days in the human body. It build up over time and there is no argument that this is healthy for you, even at low levels. The safe government levels have nothing to do human performance and everything to do with economics. It’s also interesting that China, Brazil, Chile, Europe, and in fact most of Asia have standards far in excess of US standards. Our standards lag so we get lower quality food, that’s what happens here and I’m working to fix that at a regulatory level.
That said, that’s it for today’s Short Report. Thanks for listening and if you like what you heard, share the show with someone. This is basically what you need to know, when you’re going to consume alcohol don’t think it’s healthy, think it’s fun and if you’re going to chose to do it, know it has a biological cost and then bio-hack yourself and counter that biological cost. It’s how you can stay highly resilient and stay bulletproof.