You suffer from Asian Flush, or alcohol flushing reaction, but you still want to have a drink with friends. Do you push through the pain of getting a red face, or can you make better drink choices?
A great way to reduce your Asian Flush symptoms from alcohol is to make strategic drink choices. It's likely that not all alcohol will impact you the same way. You might get a severe reaction from red wine, but a minimal reaction from cider.
In addition to better choices when it comes to alcoholic drinks, there are non-alcoholic or low alcohol drinks that are available as well. Are they worth it?
Here's everything you need to know about making better choices for your Asian Flush.
Before we start, it's good to know the basics. You've probably seen ABV around while consuming drinks, but what does it actually mean? ABV stands for Alcohol By Volume (sometimes shown as alc/vol). This is a standard measure of how much alcohol is in a given volume of an alcoholic beverage (shown as a volume percent).
ABV gives us a good understanding of how strong a particular alcoholic drink is going to be. Common ABV values for typical drinks are:
- Low-alcohol beer: 0.5% - 1.2%
- Beer: 4% - 6%
- Cider: 4%-8%
- Wine: usually 12.5%–14.5%
- Rum: 40%
- Gin: 37.5%–50%
- Whisky: usually 40%, 43% or 46%
As you can see, ABV can vary drastically between different types of alcohol. If you're struggling with Asian Flush, or alcohol flush reaction, you may want to look for low-alcohol or reduced-alcohol drinks instead of traditional drinks.
Low-alcohol refers to beverages which have an ABV between 0.5% and 1.2%, such as the low-alcohol beer mentioned in the chart above.
Reduced alcohol means a drink has lower alcohol content than the average strength of a particular drink. This means that wine with an ABV strength of 5.5%, is a reduced alcohol wine. While it's much lower than usual (wine is typically 12.5%-14.5%), it's still higher than the low-alcohol category.
Both options are reasonable choices when wanting to avoid alcohol flush reaction. While you're still consuming alcohol, the alcohol content is much lower than normal. You will probably still experience flushing symptoms, but at a lower severity.
Plus it means you can still hang out at the bar with friends without having to sip water all night.
Asian Flush and Alcohol
Those who experience Asian Flush will notice uncomfortable and often severe negative symptoms from drinking alcohol. Oftentimes, it can happen after just a few sips. This is because of a deficient liver enzyme to properly breakdown alcohol in the body.
When consuming alcoholic drinks, that alcohol is converted into toxic acetaldehyde, which builds up in the body. Normally, that would be then broken-down further into a harmless chemical, but this process doesn't happen in those with Asian Flush. Instead, acetaldehyde continues to accumulate in the body, causing symptoms such as red facial flushing, headaches, restricted breathing and dizziness.
That's why making strategic choices when it comes to alcohol is so important.
"Non-alcoholic drinks" and "alcohol-free" are often used interchangeably but it's important to note they mean two different things.
Non-alcoholic drinks contain no alcohol at all. We'll list some options down below that you can check out, without any alcohol content.
Drinks labeled as "alcohol-free" will contain a very small amount of alcohol but only at a strength of 0.05% or less (although this can change country-to-country).
It's important to know the difference if you're truly looking for drinks with no alcohol content.
Like we mentioned before, these drinks are listed as having no alcohol content at all. Thankfully, there's actually much more choice in this category than in recent years. It's much easier to find a decent non-alcoholic beer than ever before!
Although certain bars or pubs may only carry a small selection, shops are beginning to increase the amount of non-alcoholic beers they carry.
Even if you don't suffer from Asian Flush, or alcohol flush reaction, these beers are a great option if you're looking to cut down on your alcohol intake, or just want to avoid a hangover all-together.
Budweiser Prohibition (0.0%) - Lots of drinkers claim this non-alcoholic Budweiser tastes just like the original, which is great to hear! This one is best severed very cold to get that Bud-taste. Soon you'll forget you're not drinking real beer.
Nirvana Kosmic Stout (0.0%) - London-based independent craft brewing company Nirvana launched their non-alcoholic beer Kosmic Stout. You'll taste hints of vanilla and chocolate followed by a smooth malted hop base. It's definitely a great choice for something different without having any alcohol content.
Bavaria Premium Malt (0.0%) - With only 25 calories per 100ml, you can enjoy this non-alcoholic beer without any worries. Bavaria Premium has a distinct malty, smooth and refreshing taste, just like a real beer.
Just like the non-alcoholic beer, these non-alcoholic wine choices are a great way to limit your alcohol intake.
Pri Secco Organic Cuvée Nr 29 (0.0%) - Coming to us from Germany, this non-alcoholic wine contains a mix of apple and pear, with added herbs, spices and flowers (especially roses).
Belvoir Shiraz Without The Hangover (0.0%) - If you still want to drink a deep red wine but without the alcohol, this is a great option. This non-alcohol wine has a "grown-up" taste with notes of blackcurrant, vanilla and a semi-sweet fruity flavour. Surprisingly, it also has a slightly mouth drying finish with a hint of spice normally associated with a Shiraz red wine. It's like you're drinking the real thing!
Vintense Cabernet Sauvignon (0.0%) - This lovely non-alcoholic wine has wonderful notes of cherry and cranberry and pairs well with strong-tasting meat and cheese. A great full-bodied option with no alcohol content.
Low Alcohol Drinks
If you want to lower your alcohol intake, another option would be to opt for drinks that have low alcohol content. Obviously they're not as common in bars and pubs as normal alcoholic drinks, but they're still available. They're also a great option to have at home for dinner parties or special occasions since you can take the time to find the ones you like, as bars won't have the largest selection.
Consuming less alcohol will also help Asian Flush symptoms. Although they will still appear, the negative symptoms from alcohol will be less intense than when you drink alcohol normally.
Low Alcohol Beer
Big Drop Brewing Co (0.5%) - This English company is solely focused on creating beers with an ABV of 0.5% or less. They offer some great selections from a stout, pale ale, lager or spiced ale and even new special edition beers popping up. Their Pale Ale won Worlds Best Style in the 2017 World Beer Awards. Need we say more?
Jever Fun (0.5%) - The German Jever Fun is a great alternative to regular beer. It has none of the sickly sweet taste that can be found in other low-alcoholic beers and it remains still light and crisp. Great for a hot summers day!
Jupiler (0.5%) - Coming to us from Belgium, Jupiler is another great option for a low-alcohol beer. With a fruity taste and aroma, Jupiler is very smooth and with a crisp finish.
Erdinger Alkoholfrei (0.5%) - Erdinger Alkoholfrei, another German on the list, only has 125 calories per 0.5-litre bottle and is made exclusively from natural ingredients. This one has a great, full-bodied taste while being incredibly refreshing.
Low Alcohol Wine
Ariel Cabernet Sauvignon (0.5%) - This low alcohol wine comes to us from California’s Napa Valley and has a chocolate and berry taste. This vineyard ages their wine in small oak barrels and are filtered according to traditional winemaking methods. Finally, more than 99.5% of the alcohol is removed through a cold filtration process, but leaves that great wine taste.
Torres Natureo Muscat (0.5%) - This white wine is a great option when you want to limit your alcohol content. Torres Natureo Muscat is a pale yellow wine which aromas of white flowers and fresh fruit (such as quince and Guyot pear). This is a great wine to pair with seafood and rice.
Rawson’s Retreat Cabernet Sauvignon (0.5%) - This red wine only has 38 calories per 250ml glass! So not only can you enjoy a low-alcohol red wine that still tastes great, you also get minimal calories as well.
Asian Flush-Proof Drinks
Are you looking to make some alcoholic drinks at home? Or want to try something new at the bar, but want to keep your flushing symptoms minimal? FLUSHED is a great option for both!
This digital book offers loads of information about Asian Flush and specific recipes for drinks that will minimise your flushing reaction. You can also learn about ingredients that you should avoid in drinks to limit your symptoms and how to make some great beverages at home.
It also provides an easy-to-read allergen rating for each drink, so you can better understand that drink's level of tannins, sulphites and other allergens like dairy or gluten.
The more you understand about what goes into certain alcoholic drinks, the more you can limit your own Asian Flush symptoms.
If you experience Asian Flush, chances are that you've seen Kale Vodka advertised.
Kale Vodka by Ving states that it utilises kale, lemon peel and cucumber to make an organic, gluten-free drinking option. Kale Vodka is marketed as histamine and sulfite-free, which are two common allergens in alcohol.
If you experience alcohol intolerance, it may be due to histamines or sulphites contained in alcohol. By eliminating them in their vodka, Ving could potentially be flush-free.
However, Ving vodka hasn't been scientifically tested on whether it reduces flushing. And unfortunately, it still contains alcohol which is the main problem.
Those with an ALDH2 deficiency, or Asian Flush, struggle to breakdown alcohol in their system. This process causes the most flushing and isn't solved with Kale Vodka. Although symptoms may be reduced, especially if histamines or sulphates upset your system as well as alcohol, but the buildup of toxic acetaldehyde will still occur.