Alcohol for Breakfast? Most Aussies do it, do you?

This is a tale of two molecules, Ethanol and Fructose.  Both are absorbed into our bloodstream when consumed.

Ethanol is the scientific name of common alcohol found in beer wine and spirits. It can only be metabolised by our brain and liver cells, as we know it can make us happy and laugh or angry and fight.  It can also cause us to fall down and crash cars.

Our liver clears the alcohol from our system, it converts the alcohol into fat and produces nasty by products in the process, like Uric Acid (gout and inflammation) and Malondialdehyde (a really nasty cell damaging molecule).

Fructose is similar to Ethanol except that it can only be metabolised by the liver so we can’t get pie eyed eating it. The liver deals with Fructose nearly exactly the same way as alcohol, that is it converts it into fat producing the the same nasty cell damaging by products. The only significant difference is that it can’t cause us to crash our car.

What foods contain fructose?

Any food that contains sugar contains Fructose.  The chemical name for sugar is Sucrose.  Sucrose is called a disaccharide because it is made up of two sugar molecules, one Glucose and the other Fructose.  Sugar is rapidly cleaved in our intestines into the two separate molecules of Glucose and Fructose.  Essentially Sugar is effectively 50% alcohol.

So if we eat 50 gms of the cereal shown (which is 31.5% sugar) we would have eaten about 7.9 grams of alcohol equivalent, add to that a cup (250ml) of unsweetened fruit juice (usually about 11% sugar) then the total “alcohol equivalent” consumed for breakfast would be around 21 grams. Full strength beer is about 4.7% alcohol, so the breakfast we have just eaten is roughly equivalent to drinking 470 ml of beer. That’s equal to about 1 ¼ standard cans of beer. Is this a good breakfast!

Risk of disease

If we consistently drink TOO much alcohol this happens.

  1. Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease, progresses to steatosis, then to Cirrhosis, and finally cancer.
  2. Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease, progresses to steatosis, then to Cirrhosis and finally cancer.

Please note the above does not mean we should never eat sugar or drink beer, it’s all about balance and moderation, both can be enjoyed if we don’t over do it and understand how much to eat and drink.

If you want to learn more about the science behind this article you can watch this video produced by the University of California HERE

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