Thursday, February 7, 2013


Alcohol drinks are very popular world over because of their intoxicating power when alcohol gets across to the blood stream. While the role of alcohol in affecting the health is debated for centuries, the present thinking seems to be that when moderately taken it can be advantageous for health. But alcohol, after all is an addictive and it becomes humanly impossible to control the intake, pushing many human beings into the category of habitual drunkards! Whether it is Wine, Beer or Vodka, effective level of alcohol that gets into the blood depends on how much of the drink is consumed. While the strong spirits like Vodka or Whiskey or Gin or Rum is taken with water or soda, lighter ones such as wine and beer are ingested straight being low in alcohol content. Alcohol is never considered as a source of calories by those who consume it regularly though it has a calorie content of 7 kC per gm but when these drinks are mixed with cold soda the gross calorie intake becomes quite significant. Another angle to alcohol drinking is whether it is taken on empty stomach or along with solid foods. According to some studies those ingesting alcohol admixed with diet soda might run the risk of getting inebriated faster and the alcohol appears in the breath in higher quantities compared to those who take it with normal soda. Here is a take on this controversial research which has been challenged by some scientists.    

"Cutting calories with diet soda may seem like a good idea -- as long as it's not at a bar. A new study released in the journal Alcoholism suggests that cutting alcoholic drinks with diet soda makes them more potent than using their full-calorie counterparts. Specifically, researchers found that mixing alcohol with diet (sugar-free) soft drinks resulted in a higher breath alcohol content than mixing alcohol with a regular (sugar-sweetened) soft drink. "The results were surprising," said Cecile A. Marczinski, assistant professor in the department of psychological science at Northern Kentucky University, and one of the lead investigators of the study. Researchers served one of three beverages: vodka added to a diet drink, vodka added to a regular drink or a regular soft drink with a vodka scent added so that participants would believe it was an alcoholic beverage. They then sat back while the subjects enjoyed their cocktails. Those participants drinking the vodka-diet drink cocktails had a significantly higher breath alcohol content and had the highest degree of behavioral impairment among the groups, the study found. "We are talking about significant differences here," Marczinski said. "Participants who drank diet soda with vodka had blood alcohol contents as high as 18 percent more than when sugar-containing mixers were used." The theory behind this is that sugar-containing drinks stimulate the stomach much like a meal does. Having some food in your stomach delays stomach emptying, thus delaying absorption of alcohol into the bloodstream. The result is that drinkers get a less-potent hit of alcohol in their systems after drinking. "This is why southern European countries have lower rates of alcoholism despite their increased alcohol intake," said Petros Levounis, director of the Addiction Institute of New York, who was not involved in the study. "They always drink while eating."

Traditionally in many countries alcoholic drinks are taken with light foods like snacks and even if water is used as a diluent, presence of food in the stomach makes the process of absorption slower, taking quite some time before presence of alcohol is detectable in the breath. Also it is a common perception among those drinking alcohol that without food accompaniment alcohol can damage the stomach membrane to varying extent. What ever be the truth, one thing is sure and that is not to take alcohol with out any food accompaniment. Also true is that the pace at which alcohol drink is consumed must be slow to reduce its impact on the metabolic system. Fortunately alcohol drinks are served usually along with foods in most bars and invariably food intake is more on such occasions!


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