When it comes preventing Asian flush, it is all about breaking down acetaldehyde. Most people rely on the liver’s ALDH2 enzymes to do all the work. But if you suffer from an alcohol flush reaction, your ALDH2 is deficient. This deficiency is why additional support is required.
Luckily, the human body naturally produces a substance that supports the ALDH2 enzyme called glutathione, one of the most potent antioxidants known to man. Unfortunately, it turns out that it is tough to supplement your body with glutathione directly.
As concluded in a study examining the effectiveness of taking glutathione orally:
“Because of hydrolysis of glutathione by intestinal and hepatic gamma-glutamyltransferase, dietary glutathione is not a major determinant of circulating glutathione, and it is not possible to increase circulating glutathione to a clinically beneficial extent by the oral administration of a single dose of 3 g of glutathione.”
The study found that you could not take glutathione supplements and expect its levels to increase - it must happen indirectly.
NAC as a way to prevent Asian Flush
Another way to increase your body’s glutathione levels is by helping it to produce it by itself. The body produces glutathione naturally and merely requires the right quantities of certain compounds to do so.
One such compound is NAC. NAC is an amino acid required for the natural synthesis of glutathione directly in our cells.
NAC is usually the limiting factor in the production of glutathione because of its shortages in many people’s diets. It is present in many fruits, vegetables, meats and eggs, but it gets destroyed by cooking and rarely makes it through the digestive tract.
Therefore, NAC supplementation is a great way to increase your body’s natural glutathione levels before consuming alcohol. This supplementation can provide much-needed support to the ALDH2 enzyme and help reduce the severity of a red face from alcohol.
Another great benefit of NAC is that it has been shown to bind directly to acetaldehyde - the toxin behind alcohol flushing. In another study, scientists demonstrated the ability of NAC supplementation to reduce blood acetaldehyde associated with alcohol.
“ N-acetyl cysteine, an analogue of the dietary amino acid cysteine, binds acetaldehyde, thus preventing its damaging effect… “
This study indicates that NAC can support the ALDH2 liver enzyme. It does this by firstly increasing glutathione synthesis in the body, and secondly, by binding to the flush causing toxins in the liver.
Thiamine aids the function of NAC and helps prevent flushing
Thiamine is contained in many foods at low concentrations, with yeast and pork containing the highest levels. It is also found in the outer layers of unrefined grains and cereals but often removed during industrial processing.
Some studies have linked Thiamine to the proper metabolism of alcohol. Furthermore, its deficiency can cause additional stress on the liver’s ALDH2 enzyme.
People mustn't be deficient in thiamine before consuming alcohol. Supplementation of thiamine aids the ALDH2 enzyme by eliminating the stress caused by its deficiency. At the same time, it accounts for the variability in different people's thiamine levels before alcohol consumption.
In addition to accounting for pre-drink deficiencies, recent studies have also suggested that thiamine works in synergy with NAC in preventing acetaldehyde toxicity. Therefore, by turbocharging the function of NAC, thiamine supplementation can provide much-needed support to the ALDH2 enzyme. This support helps to reduce the severity of a red face from alcohol.
Natural histamine blockers to reduce flushing
There are many supplements on the market claiming to stop a red face from alcohol, yet and most of these products only use the first layer of defence discussed above.
This approach is inefficient because it neglects the toxins that slip through the liver and into your bloodstream.
When this happens, the body releases histamines that cause your body to react in various ways, i.e. facial and upper body redness, difficulty breathing, headache, nausea, dizziness, etc.
Some people use anti-histamines such as Pepcid AC and Zantac to control this a red face from alcohol but are unaware of their dangerous side-effects.
Many sources indicate reports of unpleasant side effects from taking Pepcid AC and Zantac such as headaches, dizziness, constipation and diarrhoea. They also note more severe side effects such as heart rhythm problems, jaundice and liver enzyme abnormalities. Furthermore, when taken with alcohol, these pharmaceutical anti-histamines have been shown to cause severe stomach issues.
Quercetin is natures answer to Pepcid.
Many studies have demonstrated the potent anti-histamine and anti-oxidant properties of quercetin.
Found in varying quantities in fruits, vegetables, leaves and grains, quercetin can be obtained as a concentrated flavanol for supplementation. Furthermore, unlike Pepcid AC and Zantac, there is little evidence to suggest any danger in taking quercetin before consuming alcohol.
This distinction makes quercetin our preferred natural anti-histamine for protecting the body against the inevitable release of histamines that happens when toxins slip through the first layer of defence. The more histamine protection you have, the less likely it will be that you experience an alcohol red face.
Bromelain is quercetin’s turbocharger.
Bromelain is a protein extract taken from the stems of pineapples and commonly used as a natural anti-inflammatory.
Researchers at the Institute for Male Urology, in Los Angeles, conducted a study looking at the therapeutic effect of quercetin for patients with prostatitis. Relevant to us was their finding that bromelain helped increase the absorption of quercetin and improved results by over 300%.
By increasing the absorption of quercetin, bromelain acts as a booster for its antihistamine properties. This boost helps ensure a second level of defence against a red face from alcohol.
Sunset contains this potent combination of Quercetin and Bromelain. The compounds are balanced precisely to prevent alcohol-related toxins from causing a red face from alcohol.
Stopping the alcohol-induced depletion of vital ingredients
The catch 22 is that many of the compounds necessary to stop a red face from alcohol depleted by alcohol. Therefore, most alcohol flushing product will be useless as soon as you consume alcohol - sounds a bit silly right?
Glutathione levels in the body are depleted heavily by the consumption of alcohol. As indicated by one 2008 study:
“Glutathione plays an important role in the detoxification of alcohol and acute alcohol administration leads to glutathione depletion in the liver and other tissues.”
Furthermore, your body’s ability to absorb thiamine, another essential component of proper alcohol metabolism, may also be restricted by alcohol consumption. As outlined in a study:
“Alcohol reduces the rate of intestinal absorption and the net transmural flux of thiamin. Furthermore, alcohol inhibits only the active and not the passive component of thiamin transport by impeding the cellular exit of thiamin across the basolateral or serosal membrane.”
What this means is that your body’s ability to use glutathione and thiamine is significantly restricted when you consume alcohol. Therefore, there needs to be a third layer of defence that protects flush fighting compounds from being depleted by alcohol.
Don’t panic, have a cup of tea.
L-theanine is a non-protein amino acid found only in green tea. Researched extensively in Japan, studies have shown l-theanine to be a powerful antidote for the adverse effects of alcohol.
The School of Pharmaceutical Sciences at the University of Shizuoka in Japan extensively studied the interaction of l-theanine with alcohol. They found it to significantly lower blood levels of alcohol, while also accelerating the breakdown of acetaldehyde.
In their research, they stated:
On the 1st hour after ethanol administration, the ethanol concentrations in blood of the theanine combined groups decreased compared with the ethanol-alone group. The alcohol dehydrogenase and aldehyde dehydrogenase activities in the liver increased by combined theanine.
In the same study, researchers also noted increased glutathione levels in subjects administered with l-theanine before consuming alcohol. This finding implies that l-theanine also works to help counteract the alcohol-induced loss of glutathione and other vital compounds necessary for the proper metabolism of alcohol.
L-theanine makes sure all of the ingredients in the formula have a chance to work correctly. It does this by altering the chemistry of the alcohol you consume so that it doesn’t deplete the function of important flush fighting compounds in your body.
Therefore, taking an alcohol flushing supplement without this vital third layer of defence would burn a hole in your pocket and do very little for your alcohol red face.