Is It True that Mixing Different Alcohol Can Make You Sick?

Many people stand by the claim that mixing different kinds of alcohol can increase your risk of getting sick. This belief was likely elicited more from slightly inaccurate personal experiences than scientific research. Experts will tell you that the amount of alcohol you consume is what increases your risk of more intoxication and getting sick, not so much the act of switching from one type of alcoholic beverage to another. 

Here’s how it works. Our bodies can only process alcohol so fast. According to the experts, it is approximately 12 ounces of beer, 5 ounces of wine or one shot of liquor per hour. This can be more for men and less for women or those with a smaller build. 

So, for example, if you drink the same amount, but it comes in the form of different shots of hard liquor as opposed to a few beers, you will definitely feel more intoxicated and possibly sick. Some people say that if you drink beer first, its carbonation affects the walls of the stomach so any alcohol you drink that follows will be absorbed more quickly. There is absolutely no research that supports this idea.  What CAN happen is that if you don’t feel much of a change after drinking beer and you switch to liquor, you might be inclined to drink more liquor. Conversely, if you drink liquor first and switch to beer, you will feel a higher degree of effects sooner, so you may be apt to drink less.

Research also indicates that alcoholic drinks containing more congeners may increase the effects of a hangover. So here’s what may be a helpful tip: Clear drinks like vodka, gin and white wine contain less congeners than darker alcohol such as whisky, rum and your red wines. We can also “handle” our liquor better when we have eaten. Remaining active – by doing something like dancing instead of just sitting on a bar stool – may also help alcohol pass through our systems more effectively.


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