Monday, May 20, 2013

Alcohol and Your Body

Animal, You are DRUNK

We all know when someone drinks alcohol it effects them. Maybe they're better, maybe they're worse (and annoying). Either way the next few poorly drawn cartoons depict what the body does with alcohol.

The boozey night your planning is first thwarted in the stomach. There your drink meets alcohol dehydrogenase (ADH, an enzyme) which works on breaking down alcohol-although not much of it is present in your stomach. About 20% of alcohol is also absorbed and enters your bloodstream from here. Ladies have less ADH in their stomach so more alcohol enters the blood sooner as compared to men.

Eating before drinking slows things down in two ways. 1- it delays the absorption of alcohol into your bloodstream by keeping it in your stomach rather than having it move onto your small intestine (where the remaining 80% is absorbed into your bloodstream). 2- Food provides just a wee bit more time for that small amount of ADH to do some breaking down.

 Guess I shouldn't have made that joke about the donut.

After the alcohol gets into your bloodstream more ADH rears it's oxidative enforcement of sobriety when "drunk blood" reaches your liver. Here more alcohol is broken down. The downside is that ADH breaks down alcohol and gives off some bad chemicals in return (acetylaldehyde) which can cause tissue damage. Oh and the entire process leaves your liver cells with a "reduced cytostolic environment" meaning the liquidy bit of the cell has some bad energy/electron mojo making them more susceptible to damage too.

Eventually drunk you gets past this enforcer because at some point the liver can't handle it and the enzymes reach capacity. The excess "spillover" causes the microsomal ethanol oxidizing system (MEOS) to get involved.

I know, you're probably thinking I just had to get all fancy with the big words. Yes I did, so sound it out and get back to learning.

MEOS acts as an electron transport chain. A special cytochrome called cytochrome P-450 is involved (just thought it sounded cool). MEOS also breaks down steroids and barbiturates. YAY

It looks like this:

Advanced nutrition flashback. AH.       

My rendition of MEOS is this:

 The different steps of MEOS break down alcohol further and further. Eventually one oxygen atom oxidizes NADPH to NADP+ and another breaks down an ethanol substrate to acetylaldehyde. This is also where the 7calories/gram of alcohol comes into play. MEOS takes the energy yielding part of the molecule and puts it to use.

Tolerances build up at this stage because some of the enzymes involved in MEOS are triggered to be produced more in the presence of alcohol. So the more your drink the more efficient the system is at breaking down everything.
Animal you are sober...and adorable.

Not too terrible to understand. Also super cool.

Sources in a bit:

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