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Why You Turn Red When You Drink (and 3 Ways to Stop It)

What’s the problem?

560 million people worldwide - including almost 40% of East Asians - experience redness, heat, nausea, difficulty breathing, and other symptoms after drinking a small amount of alcohol. Scientifically referred to as Alcohol Flush Reaction, its prevalence amongst Asians has earned it the name “Asian glow”.

Not only is the flushing response embarrassing, but it’s also uncomfortable and unhealthy - the toxin that causes the flush has been found to be up to 30x as toxic as alcohol itself!

What causes the redness?

The problem is an enzyme deficiency that leads to a buildup of a toxic byproduct of alcohol, acetaldehyde. It’s hereditary and definitely not an allergy as some people believe. Here’s a very basic crash course on alcohol metabolism so you can fully understand what’s going on in our bodies.

First, let’s discuss a non-flushing drinker. Alcohol makes its way to our liver. There, the enzyme alcohol dehydrogenase (ADH) turns alcohol → acetaldehyde. Acetaldehyde is up to 30x as toxic as alcohol and identified as a Group 1 Carcinogen. Luckily for most people, the next enzyme, acetaldehyde dehydrogenase (ALDH2) converts the nasty acetaldehyde into harmless acetate (basically vinegar). These people can enjoy their drinking. 

Now, for the flushing drinkers. Most of us have an inactive variant of the enzyme ALDH2 (can be as little as 8% as active). This means that we’re unable to turn the acetaldehyde into acetate, leading to a buildup of the toxin. Too much acetaldehyde is what ultimately triggers the flushing, headache, nausea, sleepiness, and other symptoms. It’s been found that hangovers are caused in large part by acetaldehyde.

To make matters worse, some people have a hyperactive version of ADH, meaning they turn alcohol into acetaldehyde faster - sometimes 100x as fast! This adds to the buildup of acetaldehyde. 

Ways to help solve the redness

1. Space your drinking out

One tip to help fight the redness is to space out your drinking. Since many of us turn red from just a few sips, we recommend decreasing the amount you drink per hour. A slower drinking pace and less alcohol mean less acetaldehyde for your body to struggle to process.

It may be helpful to have a soda or water in between alcoholic drinks to give your body more time to process the alcohol and its byproducts without getting overwhelmed and flushed! 

2. Drink clearer alcohol

Since slowing down your drinking to a snail’s pace can be difficult and less than ideal, another option is to drink clearer alcohol.

Simply put, that’s because darker alcohols contain more congeners (impurities that are produced during fermentation) and higher histamine levels than lighter drinks.

Histamine levels can contribute significantly to not only how red we get, but also to the headaches and nausea we experience.

The solution? Remember a simple rule: the clearer and lower the percentage the alcohol, the better.

Our best advice with this is to stick to clear drinks with vodka or gin if you can.

3. Try products designed for Alcohol Flush

And if all you have a certain drink that you love that comes with darker alcohol or looking for a specific solution, another option is to try products specifically formulated to help with Alcohol Flush.

With over 1,000+ reviews, Redee Patch is the most trusted option.

How Redee Patch works

These patches use a three-step process with natural ingredients to help fight Alcohol Flush.

Step 1

To get the acetaldehyde out of your system, Redee uses antioxidants, glutathione, and Vitamin C, which have been found to bind with and detoxify the culprit of the problem.

Step 2

Next, Redee supports healthy liver enzyme activity by supplementing your body with vital nutrients; these include milk thistle extract, B-vitamins (B1, B5, B6, and B9), and Alpha-Lipoic Acid.

Step 3

As a last line of defense, Redee includes holy basil extract, a natural antihistamine as a last-line of defense. You can think of this as nature’s red-face support.