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The Green in Green Beer Won't Hurt You This St. Patrick's Day (But Dehydration Will)

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In pubs throughout the U.S. (not to mention Baxter Avenue), the consumption of green beer on St. Patrick’s Day is an enduring tradition.  But maybe you wonder about the health effects that come with downing the emerald liquid.Patrons may cheer through tonight but  wake up on Tuesday with heavy eyes and throbbing heads. Did green beer do them in?Eli Pendleton, a family medicine doctor for University of Louisville Physicians, said a hangover’s intensity is likely not related to the color of the beer.“As much as people want to blame their wicked post St. Paddy’s day hangover on the green dye I think it’s just the volume of beer, as disappointing as that may be,” Pendleton said.   “Being that it falls on a Monday, I would guess the average number of Tuesday hangovers is probably higher than usual.“The green in green beer is most likely a harmless, plant-derived food coloring, the same thing that would be in green icing. It won’t hurt you. “So the green in green beer is harmless.  But St. Patrick's Day revelers should be mindful of real cause of hangovers—dehydration, Pendleton said.“We are made up of about 50 percent water, and a body needs all that water to function normally," he said. "Alcohol interferes with the mechanism in your brain that regulates your water balance.  So when you drink alcohol, you eliminate more water than you are taking in.”(Image via Shutterstock)

Jacob Ryan is an award-winning investigative reporter who joined LPM in 2014. Email Jacob at jryan@lpm.org.