Every time I see my girlfriend have a glass of wine, I’ll see her instantly turn red. I walk into a room and find myself always asking her “how much did you have?” The thing is, she’d usually only have a glass or two but it would make her turn super red. The reason for this? The “Asian Flush”. Universally, the Asian flush is known as that blotchy red color that your Asian friend turns when they drink a glass of wine. Let’s dive into the reason why Asians tend to turn flush red when drinking a small amount of alcohol.
To keep it simple, the red “glow” is an immune reaction. The alcohol that we drink isn’t being broken down by the liver, as efficiently as it should be. Ethanol is made safer by liver enzymes ADH and ALDH2, which convert alcohol to acetate (known as the less potent substance in the body). Inherently, Asians tend to lack the ALDH2 (aldehyde dehydrogenase) enzyme. This makes the breakdown of alcohol in Asians less efficient. When this happens, the body reacts to alcohol the same way it would react to anything foreign to the body. In this case, the Asian “glow”.
I don’t want to write a list of supplements that you could take to correct this, because no supplement will do that. What we can do is make the immune system stronger in order to minimize the immune response and subsequently, the blotchy red patches. We can also simply slow down the rate of absorption and that would be done by utilizing the universal tip of eating food and drinking lots of water while drinking alcoholic beverages. It also goes without saying that a strong immune system will be able to better cope with an immune reaction. Gut health addressed through probiotics and fermented foods are always a great preventative step to take regardless if you’re drinking or not.
Hope that gives you a little bit of insight as to why our Asian friends turn blotchy red when drinking.