All About Alcohol

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What Happens When You Drink Alcohol?

After drinking something with alcohol in it, the liver is the main organ doing the work. The enzyme alcohol dehydrogenase (ADH) metabolizes the ethanol (the type of alcohol found in alcoholic beverages) into acetaldehyde, which is toxic to our bodies. Then the liver enzyme aldehyde dehydrogenase (ALDH) metabolizes acetaldehyde into acetate. Acetate is a less toxic compound that further breaks down into water and carbon dioxide.

Some alcohol metabolism occurs in other parts of the body, but most is occurring in the liver. Acetaldehyde and acetate are the compounds that contribute to hangover symptoms. You may already be well aware of how hangovers feel. However, other symptoms include drowsiness, concentration problems, dry mouth, dizziness, headache, gastrointestinal complaints, sweating, nausea, hyperexcitability and anxiety.

Want more information on the drink of your choice? Search for it in your Cronometer app for all of the details!
Want more information on the drink of your choice? Search for it in your Cronometer app for all of the details!

What Else Goes Along with Alcohol Consumption?

Often grouped with alcohol consumption is the process of weight gain. We’ve all heard a friend mention they stopped drinking and lost “x” number of pounds. While the relationship between alcohol consumption and obesity remains unclear, there is some evidence to back up the connection:
 
  • It stops your body from burning fat.
  • When alcohol is consumed, it’s burned first as a fuel source before your body uses carbohydrates or fats for energy. Then when your body is using alcohol as a primary source of energy, the excess carbohydrates and fats end up stored in your body as adipose tissue, or fat.
  • Alcohol is high in calories.
  • It leads to greater hunger and less satiety (the feeling of being full).
  • It causes poor food choices because it lowers your inhibitions.

 

Consuming alcohol (especially in high amounts) has other health risks beyond potential weight gain, including high blood pressure, high triglycerides, insulin resistance, heart and liver disease, stroke, and some cancers.
 
Drinking in moderation can be a worthwhile social, culinary, traditional, or cultural experience. Combined with healthy habits in other parts of your life, you probably don’t have to worry too much about the occasional drink. Of course, you can always decide it doesn’t fit in with your health and fitness goals and opt to exclude it altogether. If you have existing health conditions, are pregnant or breastfeeding, or are taking certain medications please check with your doctor before drinking alcohol.

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