WHAT ALCOHOL DOES
Prelixir and Alcohol
Please note that under EU food law we are not allowed to make functional claims for Prelixir or the drinks it is used in – nor is any other manufacturer of food or drink. So we will simply set out, in summary form, how alcohol is processed normally in the body, what goes wrong, what nutrients can help, and what Prelixir contains. We will leave the reader to decide if the premises are correct and if the implication is that Prelixir will help prevent or reduce any alcohol-related forms of damage, including hangover.
Clearly the best thing a person can do to reduce alcohol damage is to drink less alcohol, which is why Prelixir is incorporated in varying degrees into drinks designed to dilute alcohol without loss of pleasure, or to replace it altogether.
How ethanol breaks down in the body
Ethanol breaks down in the body in a 3 stage process:
- Ethanol (CH3CH2OH) is broken down in the liver to acetaldehyde (CH3CHO),
- Acetaldehyde is broken down to acetic acid (CH3COOH)
- Acetic Acid eventually feeds into the Krebs cycle, producing energy (a lot of energy – a typical bottle of wine contains 650-700 calories)
What goes wrong
Within limits this process works smoothly. However acetaldehyde is highly toxic and unstable. It reacts with many cells including DNA and neural cells, causing damage by stealing electrons from cells to stabilise itself, and by causing cross-linking between molecules, leading to a hardening of the tissue – in effect premature aging. At high concentrations, acetaldehyde can also cause a weakening of the wall of the gut, allowing gut bacteria to leak into the blood stream, causing additional poisoning.
Glutathione and cysteine react particularly readily with acetaldehyde, thereby preventing these problems, and are usually available in the liver – up to a point. However they are quickly depleted by this task, after which acetaldehyde builds up in the body. Manufactured glutathione cannot be used to help, as it is destroyed in the stomach and gut. However, if supplied with the precursor ingredients, the body can produce more glutathione itself.
The toxicity causes an inflammatory response, causing headaches and other problems, and is also believed (though there is some controversy on this point) to cause an increase in urination leading to de-hydration and the loss of electrolytes and other nutrients, further causing headaches and general fuzziness.
The initial break down of ethanol, itself a highly reactive substance, also uses up vast amounts of nutrients including Nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide – NAD+, an important co-enzyme found in all cells, reducing it to NADH. This reduces the cell’s oxidation potential, and leads to many metabolic changes, including a build-up of lactic acid.
This build-up of lactic acid is compounded by the acetic acid produced by the break-down of acetaldehyde, increasing the overall acidity of the body, contributing to feelings of nausea and heartburn and to further inflammation – an underlying cause of many health problems. Acidity also leads to a potential decrease in blood pH to below the required level of 7.36. The body is very good at regulating blood pH, but it does this by taking the alkalising elements it needs from other parts of the body such as bones, causing a whole suite of problems attributed to “acidosis”, including osteoporosis.
Collectively these problems lead to:
- Liver disease – the fifth biggest killer in the UK and the only one still rising
- Many cancers including bowel and throat
- Neurological disorders
- Premature ageing
...and many more
What would help
The best thing is to reduce alcohol consumption. But if you are drinking alcohol at all then you are still at risk. Matters can be improved by supplying the body with the nutrients it naturally uses in this breakdown process but which get used up, and replacing ones that get flushed out, including nutrients to:
- Protect the cells from the ravages of acetaldehyde, especially cysteine and the other precursors of glutathione
- Break down the acetaldehyde to acetic acid, especially cysteine and the other precursors of glutathione
- Replace other nutrients used up, including NAD+ and thiamine
- Replace nutrients flushed out, especially electrolytes
- Counteract the acidity caused by the build up of lactic and acetic acids
- Reduce inflammation
Often nutrients cannot be replaced directly. The body needs to be supplied with precursors from which it can make the compound required.