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Monday, February 21, 2011

Alcohol, ethanol and acetaldehyde

Excessive drinking of alcohol, as we all know, is bad for our health. Alcohol supplies ‘empty’ calories that do not provide any nutritional benefit. The sugars available from an alcoholic drink are likely to decrease appetite.

Heavy drinkers tend to have poor nutrition because they eat inadequately. In addition, they are likely to suffer with impaired digestion and liver function. This has to do not so much with alcohol itself, but what the liver does to the alcohol in its efforts to digest it. Ethanol – the chemical name for alcohol – is used in the manufacture of perfumes, paints, explosives and antifreeze… are you sure you want that drink? Approximately 80% of the ethanol is broken down by the liver producing acetaldehyde, and it is this that does the damage. Acetaldehyde occurs naturally (though obviously in very small quantities) in coffee, bread and ripe fruit and it is a significant constituent of cigarette smoke and exhaust fumes! So much for drinking coffee to ease a hangover!

Despite having said all that, moderate drinking appears to be beneficial.

Moderate drinking, i.e. one glass of wine, 25ml of spirits or up to a pint of beer or cider a day, is believed to raise the 'good' cholesterol in the bloodstream, lower the risk of stroke and reduce stress.

However, drinking does tend to encourage nibbling on crisps, nuts etc – providing additional fats and calories that you would not normally have consumed.

I have no strong feelings either for or against alcohol, but people often behave foolishly enough when they are sober, why worsen the situation with alcohol? I seldom drink myself, because I enjoy my food so much and I would rather eat my calories. Alcohol contains calories – mostly in the form of sugar - and little else. It is certainly short on vitamins and minerals.

Of course, alcohol should be avoided by people who are pregnant, planning a pregnancy, driving, operating heavy machinery or on medication; and definitely by people who are underage.

If you are trying to lose weight, cutting your alcohol consumption down (or out altogether) can help save quite a few calories.

3 comments:

Bob said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Bob said...

Hi Sphinx
Nothing new on my Google problem, however, I did notice that it has removed me as Follower for so many blogs that I have to re-Follow - some even with a Yahoo ID! I have had to re-follow your wonderful blog, too.
Hopefully, this will all be resolved, sooner rather than later.

Maybe I need some alcohol? haha

Sphinx said...

I missed your face on my followers - so happy to see you back! A glass of good winw will do you a power of good. Cheers!