Alcohol and Sugar-Free Mixers
An article in the May, 2006 issue of Digestive Disease Week discusses research
reporting an increased rate of alcohol absorption when mixed with sugar-free mixers.
That alcohol passes through the stomach faster when combined with a sugar-free mixer should come as no surprise when you consider that calorie free diet drinks are more similar to water than to food. Mixing alcohol with a sugar-free mixer is similar to mixing alcohol with water; with nothing to digest, it passes through the stomach rapidly.
Nor should it come as a surprise that peak blood alcohol concentrations are greater with sugar-free mixers. Absorption of nutrients is slowed by the digestion of foods to their base components of small chain fatty acids, peptides, amino acids and simple sugars. Alcohol requires no digestion to be absorbed into the blood; it's absorption is only slowed by the digestion of other nutrients. Mixing alcohol with a nutrient free diet drink allows alcohol to absorb rapidly into the blood, just as it does when mixed with water. To avoid sudden intoxication, alcohol should never by consumed on an empty stomach or without food.
John W. Cartmell, MS
Alcohol Consumption Habits May Threaten GI Health
LOS ANGELES (May 22, 2006)
Many studies have evaluated the risks and benefits of alcohol intake, with some concentrating on potential benefits while others focus on the risks of abuse. According to new research presented at Digestive Disease WeekŪ 2006 (DDW), the volume of alcohol ingested and how it is mixed with other beverages can affect the health of the gastrointestinal (GI) system. DDW is the largest international gathering of physicians, researchers and academics in the fields of gastroenterology, hepatology, endoscopy and gastrointestinal surgery.
"Many factors come into play when managing a healthy lifestyle. In this case, patterns of alcohol consumption may significantly affect digestive health," said Lee Kaplan, M.D., Ph.D., associate professor of medicine, Harvard Medical School and director of the Massachusetts General Hospital Weight Center. "Researchers explore a variety of drinking methods to differentiate which patterns are most harmful and which may have some beneficial protective effects."
When alcohol is mixed with beverages such as orange juice or soda, the rate of alcohol absorption into the blood stream depends not only on the individual, but also the "mixer." Researchers at the Royal Adelaide Hospital in Australia analyzed alcoholic beverages mixed with diet or regular soda (with sucrose) to determine the rate of gastric emptying and blood alcohol response. They found that alcohol combined with sugar-free mixers were processed through the stomach and entered the blood stream much more quickly than alcohol with regular mixers.
Researchers analyzed eight male volunteers who consumed orange-flavored vodka beverages with both a diet mixer and regular mixer. Participants were monitored to track the rate at which the mixer was emptied from the stomach and their subsequent blood alcohol concentration (BAC) levels. From this study, the team discovered that the substitution of artificial sweeteners for sucrose in mixed alcoholic beverages may have a substantial effect on the rate of gastric emptying and the blood alcohol response. The time to empty half of the diet drink from the stomach was 21 minutes, compared to regular drinks which took 36 minutes for the same degree of emptying. Peak blood alcohol concentrations (BAC) were substantially greater with diet drinks at an average of 0.05 percent, while regular drinks measured at 0.03 percent BAC.
"Today, more and more people are shifting personal preferences by choosing 'diet' drinks as a healthier alternative," said Chris Rayner, M.D., of Royal Adelaide Hospital and lead author of the study. "What people do not understand is the potential side effects that diet mixed alcoholic drinks may have on their body's response to alcohol."
Digestive Disease WeekŪ (DDW) is the largest international gathering of physicians, researchers and academics in the fields of gastroenterology, hepatology, endoscopy and gastrointestinal surgery. Jointly sponsored by the American Association for the Study of Liver Diseases (AASLD), the American Gastroenterological Association (AGA), the American Society for Gastrointestinal Endoscopy (ASGE) and the Society for Surgery of the Alimentary Tract (SSAT), DDW takes place May 20-25, 2006 in Los Angeles, California. The meeting showcases more than 5,000 abstracts and hundreds of lectures on the latest advances in GI research, medicine and technology.
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