How is alcohol identified

Health: alcohol

alcohol is part of the food culture worldwide. This does not only apply to table drinks, dishes are also repeatedly seasoned and refined with various alcoholic drinks. Cooking techniques, such as flambéing, are only possible and practiced with alcoholic beverages. There are also many occasions that for most people are always associated with the consumption of alcohol. Aside from celebrations, it is also quickly the simple occasions on which alcohol is consumed.

This article aims to shed some light on alcohol and health. The aim is not to demonize the consumption of alcohol, but rather the article is intended to sensitize the reader to the consumption of alcohol. It is also not intended to be a scientific treatise, but rather to explain in general terms what effects the consumption of alcohol has or can have on the human organism.

General [edit]

A chemist regards alcohol as a whole group of substances, which is identified by the addition of a hydroxyl group (-OH). If alcohol is spoken of in society, it usually is Ethanol meant the alcohol found in beer, wine and spirits. This is the only substance from the group of alcohols whose toxic effect is classified as low. Ethanol, however, is counted among the liver-damaging poisons. Excessive consumption of alcohol can lead to death. The lethal amount (“lethal dose”) of alcohol in a non-drinker is between 3 and 4 per thousand alcohol concentration in the blood.

History [edit]

Alcohol is the oldest drug in the world. That certainly explains the high level of acceptance that alcohol has in society. At first, alcohol was only consumed by chance when people ate fruit that had already started to ferment. But even in ancient times, humans had learned to make alcoholic beverages. Beer and wine were already known back then and were among the well-known and sought-after consumer goods. In fact, even workers were paid with beer because, in addition to increasing motivation, beer was also a very nutritious food that met the workers' energy needs. The trade in alcoholic beverages was one of the hallmarks of civilizations.

Origin [edit]

Alcohol comes from fermentation. Sugar is processed by yeast and alcohol and carbon dioxide are produced. This creates heat. High-proof beverages are made by distillation. This uses the lower boiling point of alcohol (78 ° C) compared to water, in which the alcohol is dissolved, which only begins to boil at 100 ° C. After the liquefaction of the alcohol vapor produced by cooling, the alcohol content of the liquid obtained is significantly higher than that of the original liquid. Today alcohol can also be produced artificially. This alcohol is rarely used in alcoholic beverages, but mainly as an energy source and chemical raw material.

Effect [edit]

Alcohol is a neurotoxin. It is absorbed through the oral mucosa, the stomach and the small intestine and thus enters the blood directly. The alcohol reaches the liver with the blood, where it is partly broken down. The effect starts after just a few minutes. Alcohol attaches itself to the nerve endings (receptors) and prevents them from working. The efficiency depends on several factors:

  • Warmth (warm and hot alcoholic beverages such as grog and Irish coffee) increases blood flow and thus increases the absorption ("absorption") of alcohol in the blood.
  • Liqueurs produce the same effect due to their sugar content and sparkling wine due to its carbonic acid content.
  • Fatty foods slow absorption so that alcohol takes longer to get into the blood; the alcoholic effect occurs later.
  • body weight
  • Individual rate of alcohol breakdown in the gastrointestinal tract (about 0.1 g per hour and kg body weight)

One of the physiological effects of alcohol is to increase emotions such as joy or sadness. Initially, these are usually positive emotions, as alcohol induces the release of corresponding hormones. With increasing consumption, however, this distribution decreases. Then there are increased negatively assessed emotions such as aggressiveness, carelessness, arrogance, misunderstanding of one's own situation or one's own state of health. Other parts of the nervous system are also affected. Most of all, it is known that alcohol significantly slows the body's reaction time. The sense of balance is also influenced: balance disorders (unsteady gait), disorders of the speech center in the brain (babbling).

Long-term effect

If alcohol reaches the liver via the bloodstream, it is broken down immediately. The liver identifies alcohol as a poison. This is when the liver begins to produce an enzyme that accelerates the breakdown of toxins in the blood. The more alcohol you consume, the more of this enzyme your liver produces. This process cannot be reversed. If the liver is used to drinking alcohol, it is always prepared for it. The enzyme is always ready to fight the alcohol, and the alcohol only starts to work when you consume more alcohol. In addition, alcohol is broken down faster, so you get “sober” faster. So people who can tolerate a lot of alcohol have usually already consumed a lot of alcohol to get used to it.

The liver is damaged by prolonged exposure. This is first shown in an increase in liver values, then it comes to fatty liver, a condition that can regress a little, later it comes to liver cirrhosis, which permanently damages the liver. So it happens that people who have always drunk a lot of alcohol at some point can no longer tolerate as much alcohol because the liver is so damaged that it can no longer break down the alcohol as quickly.

Every intoxication also kills brain cells. The greater the intoxication, the more brain cells die. Due to the enormous number of brain cells, this is initially not noticeable. Disturbances occur only after prolonged constant consumption of alcohol. These disturbances can also no longer be reversed. Brain cells are nerve cells. They don't grow back. Once they are destroyed, they are no longer rebuilt.

Alcohol abuse

If one consumes so much alcohol that one reaches such a state of intoxication that one is no longer in control of one's senses, then one speaks of alcohol abuse. In this state you do things that you would not have done without alcohol. The willingness to be aggressive is greatly increased, so that the use of violence is frequent. But even positive things are increased to such an extent that they can have negative effects. Increasing sense of belonging to a group, expressions of friendship, declarations of love, all things that can happen in full intoxication and that soberly would not be wanted. At the end of the intoxication there is a complete loss of control over oneself. The whole thing can end in alcohol poisoning, which has to be hospitalized in the hospital.

Consequences of alcohol abuse - the hangover

After a few hours of abstinence after excessive alcohol consumption, the so-called "hangover" often appears. The body reacts to the poisoning and needs time to cope with it. This manifests itself in headaches, malaise, vomiting (inflammation of the gastric mucosa) and a general feeling of bad health. The headache comes from the fact that alcohol results in a high loss of fluids (dehydration). The fluid that protects the brain from hitting the skull bones is so reduced that it no longer works. The main remedy is a high intake of liquid. Especially in the evening before going to bed. Here, however, no alcoholic drink helps, but ideally mineral water. If you drink the so-called Counter beer, you just freshen up the high and just postpone the hangover. The minerals in mineral water are also important to bring the body back into shape. This supply of minerals is also used in the so-called hangover breakfast. Here, too, you should pay particular attention to the supply of plenty of mineral water.

Alcoholism

With long-term and regular consumption of alcohol, sooner or later alcoholism will occur. It is a recognized chronic, because no longer curable addiction disease. Do not become alcoholics anymore dry alcoholics called. This chronic disease is also due to the formation of the enzyme in the liver. As already mentioned, this education will not shut down again. If a dry alcoholic drinks alcohol again, he is almost immediately back to where he was when he stopped drinking. Alcoholism evolves from a psychological addiction to a physical addiction that brings with it withdrawal symptoms. These withdrawal symptoms are often not recognized as such by the addict and are individually different. Alcoholism can lead to a host of other illnesses. In particular, mental illnesses such as depression and liver diseases are known. But the circulation is also very damaged. This disease should also be respected in other people. Care must be taken to ensure that a dry alcoholic is not seduced into consuming alcohol. This applies to all drinks and meals offered!

Is someone addicted to alcohol who drinks a beer every night? [Edit]

In order to answer this question, one needs to ask what happens if he leaves out the alcohol. If there are withdrawal symptoms such that an apparently insurmountable urge to consume alcohol arises, one can assume a psychological alcohol dependence. It must also be noted that the effect that the individual beer develops in the evening will at some point no longer occur. So that there might be two or more at some point. The thesis that has been raised again and again: "A glass of red wine a day is healthy" can no longer be left standing in this context, although wine or beer can be healthy if it is not misused. Only those who do not consume alcohol for a long time without feeling uncomfortable, moody or noticing other unfamiliar conditions can claim to be no alcoholic.

Alcohol boils away when you use it in the kitchen [edit]

As we have already read, alcohol has a lower boiling point than water. If alcohol is used in the kitchen, for example in a red wine sauce, the opinion is often that alcohol dissipates quickly during cooking and the food again non-alcoholic is. That this is wrong is very easy to explain: If you put a pot of water on until it boils, the water is not gone straight away, but has become a little less due to the boiling. It is the same with alcohol. Although the alcohol content decreases faster than the water content of the food, it usually takes longer than the cooking process until all the alcohol has evaporated. Even long cooking does not guarantee that the food is alcohol-free. The assumption that there is little alcohol in the food after the cooking process is careless and wrong.

Children and alcohol

Children are not allowed to consume alcohol! For them, alcohol has far worse consequences than it does for an adult. The risk of alcohol poisoning is very high. Children are to be protected from alcohol consumption. It is important to ensure that desserts or drinks for children in particular do not contain alcohol. The information on the contents of the food shows whether it contains alcohol.

See also [edit]