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What Is Alcohol Metabolism

alcoholic drinks

Here’s a quick hypothetical. If you need a DUI lawyer in Boulder, what do you think transpired beforehand? If you guessed a night of heavy drinking followed by preventable tragedy, you’re on the right track, as consumption of alcohol comes with a wide range of deleterious health and wellness outcomes.

A great many of those risks are a result of how your body breaks down and eliminates alcohol from your bloodstream, and it turns out that this process can vary significantly from person to person. To help you better understand some of the risks, we’re going to cover a few specifics on how alcohol is metabolized and what happens when you drink.

Alcohol Metabolism Explained

After you drink, your body attempts to metabolize the alcohol you’ve imbibed, and that typically involves the use of two liver enzymes: alcohol dehydrogenase (ADH) and aldehyde dehydrogenase (ALDH). The enzymes can break alcohol molecules apart, which then makes it possible for your body to get rid of them.

In the process, your body creates a toxic byproduct known as acetaldehyde. This eventually gets turned into acetate, and then water and carbon dioxide, but while acetaldehyde is in the body it has the power to wreak some serious havok. It’s toxic, after all, and since your liver is doing the heavy lifting in processing it, your liver stands to take some damage.

But it’s not just your liver that gets exposed. Acetaldehyde can damage your pancreas, your brain, and may even be what’s responsible for the behavioral changes people typically undergo after they’ve consumed a lot of alcohol.

The severity of all this depends partly on how well your body can metabolize alcohol, and that depends on a variety of factors that you don’t really have control over.

Size and body mass, for instance, hold some sway over how much you can metabolize per hour (and there’s a limit for every individual there), and there’s a stark difference between the way men and women absorb and break down alcohol in the blood.

Women have less of that ADH enzyme, so they usually can’t break down alcohol as quickly as most men would be able to. Which leads to the main point here — your ability to metabolize alcohol is largely genetic, and the more susceptible you are to the effects of alcohol the more likely you are to experience the negative downsides.

Be Mindful With Alcohol

Alcohol can have serious health consequences, in addition to adverse reactions in your life and on your well being. Because of this, it’s best to use alcohol in moderation, and try to regulate your consumption so that you don’t end up bearing the brunt of its worst effects.

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