ALCOHOL – WHY AM I BLOATED?
It may come as no surprise that there are numerous detrimental repercussions regarding performance and composition one may encounter proceeding the consumption of alcohol. As with all things health and fitness orientated, the extent of such repercussions are largely subjective and correlative to the stimuli such an individual has been subject to in the past, how efficiently particular organs are functioning and the precautionary measures if any they have taken to mitigate such repercussions. By bringing to light to the effect alcohol may have on vasopressin and aldosterone levels, both hormones of relation to the amount of water the body retains, I hope to make apparent that such hormones could very well be the reason you have felt particularly watery or bloated for several days proceeding a night out.
HOW CAN ALCOHOL CAUSE BLOATING?
Once consumed, alcohol can cause irritation of the gastrointestinal tract, resulting in discomfort and potentially hindering the digestion of all it has been consumed in conjunction with. Sugary drinks, carbonated liquids and syrups can exacerbate such inflammation, potentially resulting in additional gas, irritation and discomfort.
Vasopressin is an anti-diuretic endogenous hormone. Vasopressin helps to regulate water retention in the kidneys and body tissue. Vasopressin is found in the hypothalamus (small area of your brain) and is transported down nerve fibres (axons) to the pituitary gland where it is then released into the bloodstream. If the body produces too much vasopressin, the kidneys will react accordingly, retaining more water than usual and subsequently diluting the blood, resulting in a low sodium concentration. Low vasopressin will result in your kidney’s excreting more water than usual, increasing the frequency you may find yourself needing to urinate, potential dehydration and low blood pressure. Alcohol inhibits the pituitary secretion of anti-diuretic hormone (ADH), which acts on the kidney to reabsorb water. Alcohol acts on the hypothalamus/pituitary to reduce the circulating levels of ADH. When ADH levels drop, the kidneys do not reabsorb as much water; consequently, the kidneys produce more urine. The more dehydrated the body becomes, the more vasopressin the body will secrete in an attempt to compensate, the more water you can expect the body to retain the higher vasopressin levels rise.
Aldosterone is a hormone secreted by the adrenal vortex that regulates electrolyte and water balance by increasing the renal retention of sodium and the excretion of potassium. The overall effect of this hormone is to increase reabsorption of ions and water in the kidney. In this sense, it’s influence regarding water retention in the body is very much similar with the aforementioned hormone above, vasopressin.
THE TAKE HOME
The body is always looking to ascertain a point of equilibrium. The more we do to compromise such a point, the more drastic measures the body will take to compensate. Given the tendency alcohol has to encourage the secretion of water, one can expect to feel particularly bloated and retain more than they typically would proceeding the consumption of alcohol.