Facts about Alcohol
by Dr. Mo Lerner

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The ancient Egyptians called alcohol "hek," and probably no other drug has had such a profound effect on history. Almost anything organic can be turned into alcohol through fermentation. Once alcohol gets by the stomach, it is rapidly absorbed into the blood. Food, especially diary foods slow absorption. So the old adage "never drink on an empty stomach" is true. Carbonated beverages and even bubbly wines, on the other hand, speed absorption, so don't think mixers will make you less intoxicated. Alcohol spreads all over the body and some even comes out of the lungs, which is why the breathalyzer test is a reasonably accurate measure of what is on board. There is an old myth that large people, who have more fat, can "hold" more liquor. But being fat has nothing to do with it. It is true that the more often you drink, the more tolerant your body becomes and the more alcohol you need in order to get a "buzz." It is also true that alcohol is packed with calories and that it may increase weight.

There is little question that excessive use of alcohol is detrimental: Brain cells can deteriorate, leaving people forgetful. This can be so frustrating for some that they unconsciously make up stories to fill in the gaps. We call this "confabulation." The liver gets filled with fat and scars and can't function as a waste disposal or blood producer, and the pancreas can get inflamed or shut down. In people of very large size, they may already be somewhat compromised. After repeated exposure to too much alcohol, the nerves of the arms and legs can become "pickled," causing the limbs to become tingly or numb, making them susceptible to damage.

On the other hand, scientists believe that one or two glasses of wine, or possibly other spirits, a day may be beneficial. Small amounts of alcohol stimulate production of the good cholesterol (HDL) that gobbles up some of the fatty "gunk" that lines arteries and is responsible for heart attacks. Some doctors believe that tannins or reveratol, chemicals in red wine, actually prevent clotting in already junked up vessels and this is how they prevent heart attacks. Some researchers think that a substance called quercetin may help to stop the growth of certain cancer cells. To give a balanced view, it is important to remember that there may be other factors involved. For example, people from France who drink wine in moderation may have less heart disease because of other factors, such as the fact that they eat more fruits and vegetables and eat their meals in a more relaxed fashion. Thank goodness, nature tries to help us moderate. As we get older, we tend to drink less and because our body water content is lower, we don't need as much alcohol to get that "warm feeling." A final bit of advice from Dr. Moe to all who enjoy alcohol: A glass or two is fine but... never alone, never on an empty stomach, and never overdo it. ß

Heretic Physician