Nutrition does not have to be viewed as a long, strict list of “What Not To Eat & Drink.” It also does not mean everything that isn’t green is horrible for you. In reality, the science behind the breakdown of food and alcohol is genuinely fascinating. Let’s talk about how alcohol metabolizes in your body so you understand the science behind it instead of just labeling your favorite cocktail as “bad.”
When you take a sip of an alcoholic drink, about 25% of the alcohol goes directly to your bloodstream, and the other 75% goes throughout your digestive system and is absorbed in the small intestine. The alcohol will move to the liver from the small intestine to be broken down. The liver breaks down almost all of the alcohol in your body. The liver is a majorly important organ in the body and is responsible for making bile to break down fats, helps with blood clotting, processes nutrients, and other roles. All that to say, the breakdown of alcohol majorly occurs in the liver. For the average person, one drink will metabolize in an hour. An enzyme breaks down most alcohol in the liver cells called ADH, alcohol dehydrogenase. This enzyme breaks down alcohol to form acetaldehyde. Then another enzyme called aldehyde dehydrogenase (ALDH) breaks down the acetaldehyde into acetate. Before leaving your body, the acetate will convert to carbon dioxide and water. Now, the alcohol is completely broken down and out of your system!
That was a lot of information, so let’s breakdown the facts:
- We drink alcohol, and most of it goes through our digestive system.
- Alcohol is then processed in the liver by several enzymes.
- Our liver is vital for many different bodily functions and your overall health.
- After the liver breaks down alcohol, it breaks down to carbon dioxide and water and leaves your body.
What a cool process!
Our bodies are amazing in how they react and digest foods and drinks. The more you know about your body’s metabolism, the more apt you’ll be to want to fuel it properly. Stay tuned for Part 2 & Part 3 as we learn about alcohol and its effects on your body and health.