Food Value of Alcohol And Is it Good As Food

Alcohol is absorbed from stomach, small intestines and small amount of alcohol can be absorbed from skin, which is not significant in case of adults. However, alcohol absorption from skin can be significant in case of infants, who are given cold sponging with alcohol to reduce high body temperature, in case of high fever. Hence, care is required if cold sponging is given to infants with alcohol.

Absorption of alcohol from stomach:

Absorption of alcohol from stomach is dependent on various factors such as presence of food and other substances in stomach, concentration of ingested alcohol etc. In general, absorption of alcohol from stomach is slow and presence of food in stomach slows down alcohol absorption further.

Absorption of alcohol from small intestines:

Alcohol is rapidly absorbed from small intestines. This is one reason why alcohol consumed on empty stomach is absorbed very fast, because absence of food in stomach causes stomach to empty very fast and alcohol can reach small intestine rapidly and get absorbed rapidly. Peal level of alcohol in blood can be achieved in approximately 30 minutes after consuming alcohol on empty stomach.

Alcohol after absorption is distributed evenly in the body as alcohol has large volume of distribution in human body. Alcohol can easily cross “blood brain barrier” and reach brain easily and attain concentration in brain very close to blood concentration. Alcohol also easily crosses placental barrier and cause “fetal alcohol syndrome” in babies.

Excretion of alcohol:

Kidneys and lungs excrete alcohol, although in insignificant quantity. The concentration of alcohol in exhaled air is 0.05% of blood concentration and this is used for testing alcohol and blood alcohol concentration in medico-legal cases by authorities. The person is asked to exhale (blow) into a balloon and alcohol in the subject is content is measured by a portable breath analyzer.

Food value of alcohol:

Alcohol does not require any digestion and it is metabolized rapidly. Alcohol produces high energy at 7 Kcal per gram. However, the energy produced by alcohol cannot be stored. However, the energy produced by alcohol can spare carbohydrates and fats as energy source, and as a result, regular consumption of alcohol can lead to obesity, by sparing carbohydrates and fats, which get stored.

Alcohol cannot supply bodybuilding and other essential nutrients. Hence, individuals consuming large quantity of alcohol regularly get significant energy supply from alcohol and as a result suffer from various nutritional deficiencies. This is the reason alcohol is expensive but incomplete food and should not be relied as food/energy source.


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