Here’s the Real Reason You’re a Lightweight Drinker
When you think of someone who can hold their booze, you probably think of a big, Mountain-sized man who can chug beer like it’s water. But just as the 132-pound Takeru Kobayashi, former Nathan’s hotdog eating champ, is a skinny dude capable of inhaling 69 hot dogs, your ability to drink a lot or a little is dependent on a lot more than just weight. To shed light on why some folks are just natural lightweights, we spoke to Certified Holistic Health Coach (and self-proclaimed lightweight) Lucy Chen:
Genetics“There are several genetic factors that make it hard for your body to process alcohol,” says Chen, “such as the gene mutation MTHFR [Methylene tetrahydrofolate reductase]. Forty percent of people have this gene, me being one of the ‘lucky ones.’” According to Chen, people with MTHFR are deficient in Methylene tetrahydrofolate, an enzyme responsible for detoxifying the body. As a result, people with MTHFR feel the effects of alcohol quicker because their body takes longer to filter alcohol out of the bloodstream.
Other enzymes, such as ADH (Alcohol dehydrogenase) and Aldehyde dehydrogenase (ALDH), are responsible for breaking down alcohol as well, and genetic deficiencies in those enzymes can also lead to slower detoxification. “You may have heard of ‘Asian glow’ or ‘Asian flush,’” says Chen. “This is the result of having inadequate Aldehyde dehydrogenase, which creates a byproduct of alcohol that builds up and dilates your blood vessels, creating that flush.” In other words, you may have your parents to thank for your low tolerance (and embarrassingly red face).