But why do Asians get Asian glow in the first place?
Until recently, most people just stereotyped us Asians and made the executive decision that all Asians can't handle their alcohol, which explains why we all turn red when we drink. This is probably the farthest from the truth that I've ever seen. After moving to Korea, I've witnessed firsthand where Asians can and will drink all night on a random weekday night just for the hell of it. So, why does Asian glow happen? Well, turns out that mini source of heat on your face is due to a lack of a little enzyme called Acetaldehyde Dehydrogenase. According to the BuckMD Blog at Ohio State University, Acetaldehyde Dehydrogenase aids with alcohol metabolism and the break down of a toxic substance called acetaldehyde. Approximately 50% of Asians have an inactive or variation of this enzyme; thus, the buildup of the toxic acetaldehyde, which leads to swelling, nausea, vomiting, and of course turning red in the face. Pretty interesting stuff if you as me. I know a good majority of my Asian friends get the flush and they're usually pretty embarrassed about it, but personally I think there are some great benefits. Here are 4 reasons why I think Asian glow is awesome!
1. Lower bar tabs at the end of the night
Let's face it. Going straight to the bar and tearing it up on the dance floor is the best way to end your crappy work week. But the worst part isn't waking up the next morning with a massive hangover or a regretful hookup partner, it's the fact that you're most likely a hell of a lot more broke. Taking those extra shots with the bartender or buying people drinks can really add up. On top of that, you make stupid decisions and end up taking taxis everywhere (if you're a lazy drunk like me). Those with Asian glow know how to space out their drinks to limit the pseudo "sun burnt" look on their face. This can indirectly and very fortunately lead to a lower bar tab by the end of the night. You can now go home with zero shame and your wallet a lot heavier than you expected it to be.
2. Cuts down on your risk of heart disease
This is definitely a great health benefit for why Asian glow is awesome. According to Bloomberg, researchers have found that in a study of over 260,000 participants those with Asian glow were on average 10% less likely to develop heart disease. Pretty cool to know that people with Asian glow can enjoy the night on the town and not have to worry about chronic heart problems. I don't know about you guys, but I'd count this as a win!
3. Can possibly prevent alcoholism
This one is definitely interesting. There's an article by Time that claims that getting red faced is actually a genetic advantage. The story goes that about 10,000 years ago in Southern China, farmers began cultivating rice along the Yangtze River. At the same time, these farmers would also dabble in making homemade alcohol with fermented rice. According to the study, the genetic mutation that causes Asian flush evolved as a survival tool to help the farmers enjoy the positive aspects of alcohol without over imbibing. Essentially, their red face signaled that they need to drink the alcohol in moderation and helped deter any urges to develop alcoholic tendencies.
4. Keeps you warm during the winter
I usually don't get Asian flush, but the only time I really wish I had it was during the winter season. Weather usually never stops me from going to the bar, but I'll be the first to admit that the worst feeling in the world is leaving the bar at 3 AM and it's absolutely freezing outside. The last thing that I want to do is fight 300 other drunk people after last call to catch a cab from the sidewalk. Of course, these are also times when it just so happens to start snowing as I wait with my friends. Rocking a full on beet red Asian glow would definitely help me muster up the courage to wait outside for the long trek home after the bar.
As you can see, having Asian glow or flush isn't half bad. There's no reason why anyone should be ashamed when their face turns red while drinking. It makes us unique and to be honest there are actually some interesting benefits. If you're still embarrassed by your Asian glow, I highly recommend checking out this video from No Red Face Formula! Time to drink up everyone!
By Mrpaxton (Own work) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons