Effects of Food on Blood Ethanol Concentration

The peak BEC is reduced when alcohol is consumed with or after food. Food delays gastric emptying into

Time (hours)

Figure 4 Blood ethanol concentration curve after oral dosing of ethanol. A subject injected 0.8g/kg ethanol over 30 minutes either after an overnight fast or after breakfast. The peak blood ethanol concentration and the area under the curve are reduced if ethanol is consumed with food.

Time (hours)

Figure 4 Blood ethanol concentration curve after oral dosing of ethanol. A subject injected 0.8g/kg ethanol over 30 minutes either after an overnight fast or after breakfast. The peak blood ethanol concentration and the area under the curve are reduced if ethanol is consumed with food.

the duodenum and reduces the sharp early rise in BEC seen when alcohol is taken on an empty stomach. Food also increases elimination of ethanol from the blood. The area under the BEC/time curve (AUC) is reduced (Figure 4). The contributions of various nutrients to these effects have been studied, but small, often conflicting, differences have been found. It appears that the caloric value of the meal is more important than the precise balance of nutrients.

In animal studies ethanol is often administered with other nutrients in liquid diets. The AUC is less when alcohol is given in a liquid diet than with the same dose of ethanol in water. The different blood ethanol profile in these models may affect the expression of pathology.

However, food increases splanchnic blood flow, which maintains the ethanol diffusion gradient in the small intestine. Food-induced impairment of gastric emptying may be partially offset by faster absorption of ethanol in the duodenum.

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