Ninety-nine myths about beer in the world, ninety-nine myths about beer…
In order to debunk the biggest alcohol urban legends, boozy old wives’ tales, and hangover cure-alls, we’ve taken some myths down (hair of the dog? beer bellies?), and we’ve passed them around (our expert knows best!) — and disproved some of those ninety-nine myths about beer.
Before you booze, toss back these alcohol myths and facts.
Hungover? Just Keep Drinking!
You’ve got a killer headache the morning after a night of boozing … so someone hands you a drink. Sound familiar?
Called “hair of the dog,” this fabled hangover cure is based on an idea that dates back to medieval times: Cure what ails you with more of what ails you. Back then, people believed that if you were bitten by a rabid dog, you needed to burn some of its hair and place it over the bite as a cure. Shakespeare perpetuated the idea by referring to the “hair of the dog” in the introduction to "The Taming of the Shrew."
But when it comes to curing alcohol withdrawal? “It’s not going to work,” says Stuart J. Finkelstein, MD, an addiction specialist from Cerritos, Calif. In fact, he says the only true hangover remedy is this: time.
Beer Before Liquor Makes You Sicker
And liquor before beer, never fear — right?
Wrong. The idea that the order of what you drink enables you to drink more without getting sick is another alcohol myth that needs to be retired.
Says Dr. Finkelstein, alcohol is alcohol — whether beer, vodka, or wine — and what you drink doesn’t matter as much as the amount you drink. So if you find yourself hugging the toilet after a night of boozing, you really can’t blame the order in which you downed it.
Eat Bread, Sober Up
This old wives’ tale seems to make sense: Eat some bread with your drinks and it will help soak up the booze. And there actually could be a few crumbs of truth to it, Finkelstein says.
When you fill your stomach with food, you could be slowing the absorption rate of the alcohol you’re drinking. However, he says, though it might help you a little bit, it’s probably not going to be enough to sober you up and keep you from getting drunk. To stay sober, cut back on the bread — and the booze.
Coffee Curbs Drunkenness
Warning: This hangover remedy is one big, fat myth! Have a cup of caffeinated coffee, and you’ll still be drunk — you’ll just be more of an awake drunk.
What’s more, you could be making the situation harder on yourself, Finkelstein says. The caffeine makes you think you are sobering up, but all you’re really doing is counteracting the sedating effects of the alcohol … not decreasing your alcohol level. That means, you may take chances that you wouldn’t take if you were sleepier.
A Few Cocktails Make You Sexier
You may feel like a smooth operator after throwing back booze — but are your drinking buddies really as charmed as you think they are?
Nah. Shakespeare debunked this alcohol myth in another of his plays, "Macbeth," when the porter says that drink “provokes the desire, but takes away the performance.” The bard was right, Finkelstein says. Alcohol may put you in the mood and shut off your natural inhibitions, so you may be more willing to approach your partner, but if you’re drunk, you can forget about acting on your desires. “Men who are drunk often can’t perform,” he says.
You Can Drink Like the Best of ’Em
Think everyone reacts to alcohol the same way? Think again, says Finkelstein.
A number of factors affect how you react to even just one glass of wine with dinner. To name a few: how much you weigh, how much you’ve eaten, what time of day it is, your body chemistry, what medications you’re taking, your mood, and even your gender. That’s why it’s important to understand your alcohol tolerance — and think twice about pushing the limits.
Big Belly? Blame the Beer
Can one too many beers give you a beer belly? Sure it can. But so can one too many glasses of wine or spirits.
Research published in the Journal of Nutrition found that when it comes to tummy fat, it’s not the beer — it’s the calories. In fact, of the participants studied, liquor drinkers tended to have bigger bellies than beer drinkers and wine drinkers. Weight gain occurs when you take in more calories than you burn. A 12-ounce bottle of beer has 100 to 200 calories (depending on the type of brew it is), so having just one or two may not make you chunkier, especially if burn off those extra calories with exercise.
It’s when you down four or five (on the couch!) that the beer starts to show.
Boozing Kills Brain Cells
Has Mom ever told you that drinking will zap your brain cells? Actually, her finger-wagging is open for debate.
According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, alcohol negatively affects the brain, causing slurred speech and memory lapses. However, some studies have shown that alcohol doesn’t permanently damage your brain. Indeed, researchers at the Wake Forest University School of Medicine even found that one to two drinks a day offered some protection against dementia for older adults. Red wine also has been said to be good for the heart.
The answer? Moderation is key, says Finkelstein.