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Break down alcohol faster: That's the trick

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  • What happens to the body when you drink alcohol?
  • How quickly is alcohol broken down?
  • Can alcohol reduction be accelerated?
  • Can you train your liver to reduce blood alcohol levels?
  • Do electrolyte supplements help with a hangover?
  • How much residual alcohol do I still have in my blood?

Why is it that the best nights are always followed by the worst days? Those in which you just wish that yesterday’s stuff would be out of your body as quickly as possible. Whether you still have to drive or just want to end the hangover, you want to get rid of the alcohol as quickly as possible. It would be practical if we could speed things up somehow. Our expert will reveal whether this is possible.

What happens to the body when you drink alcohol?

You know the effect of alcohol: you become funnier, more open, more relaxed, in short: drunk. This effect occurs because the brain is easily poisoned. And this happens faster than previously thought: “According to the latest research, alcohol is not only absorbed in the small intestine, but partly in the stomach,” explains nutritionist Dr. Sabine Schäfer. That’s why short ones get to your head so quickly. The alcohol then travels through the bloodstream to the brain (state of intoxication) and then to the liver. “Alcohol is a form of sugar, and the liver breaks it down in exactly the same way,” explains Schäfer. And like other foods, the calories from alcohol are then either burned or stored in the form of fat.

How quickly is alcohol broken down?

Once in, the body naturally wants to get rid of the poison. The rule of thumb is: The body can break down around 0.1 per mille per hour. “This rule of thumb is just an average and can vary from person to person,” explains the doctor. It doesn’t really matter how much you weigh, how tall you are or how much water you drank that evening. This does affect how much alcohol you can drink before you fall off your chair. However, the degradation depends solely on liver function.

Can alcohol reduction be accelerated?

The good news is: You can sleep, drink water, or eat a proper hangover breakfast to combat a hangover. Because this discomfort comes primarily from the brain, which now primarily needs rest, fluids and minerals. The bad news: Your liver doesn’t care about any of this. “There is little that can be done to change the functioning of the liver at this point,” says the nutritional doctor. “Tips like exercise, acupressure or massages don’t help either.” This is especially important if you want to drive the next day. You may feel much better after a night’s sleep, but you probably still have alcohol in your blood.

The only thing you can do in the moment is rest and warmth. “The liver can work best when we are asleep and warm,” says Schäfer. A good reason to stay in bed late after a night of drinking. You still won’t get above 0.1 per mille per hour. This is what happens when you give up alcohol for a while.

Can you train your liver to reduce blood alcohol levels?

There are those people who can drink freely and still never have a hangover. In particular, tall and heavy people who like to lift people often can lift more than people who are not “in training”. Will they also get rid of the alcohol quicker? No, on the contrary: “A young, fresh liver from a healthy person works much better than an older one that constantly has to break down alcohol,” explains Schäfer. So if you exercise, eat a balanced diet and keep fit, your liver will cope better with alcohol. On the other hand, if you live an unhealthy lifestyle, your liver will permanently work slower. This is how bad alcohol is for your body.

But even if you are actually physically fit, the organ can be affected. Especially if you took medication before the drinking session, the liver can be overwhelmed by the double load. “Active ingredients such as ibuprofen or paracetamol are also broken down in the liver and can therefore slow down the breakdown of alcohol,” says the doctor.

Do electrolyte supplements help with a hangover?

Recently there has been a hype that teenagers are taking “Elotrans” powder – a dietary supplement powder that contains concentrated electrolytes – after drinking a lot of alcohol to avoid feeling a hangover. It is actually taken to restore the lost mineral and water balance after a diarrheal illness by providing minerals, salts and glucose.

The sports medicine doctor Dr. Wilhelm Bloch from the Sports University of Cologne comments on the hype: “Alcohol will cause an electrolyte deficiency. If you consume electrolytes, you compensate for this. After the hangover, it can make sense to substitute electrolytes , as food intake is often impaired.” However, Elotrans & Co. does not contribute to a faster reduction in blood alcohol levels.

But if your hangover makes you so sick that you can’t eat, a dietary supplement like Elotrans can be useful, especially if you’re planning a light exercise session later in the day. And light, constant endurance training at a low heart rate, at the earliest in the late afternoon after an evening heavy with alcohol, is worthwhile: A study by the University of Colorado in Boulder has shown that aerobic exercises such as walking, running or cycling can cause brain damage Can even prevent alcohol consumption.

How much residual alcohol do I still have in my blood?

You’ve had 3 beers but still feel pretty fit and can probably still drive? It’s better to be careful, you often misjudge your own blood alcohol level. An average man will quickly exceed the criminal limit of 0.3 per mille after drinking one liter of beer, and that’s just two bottles. There are a few sites on the Internet that you can use to estimate your blood alcohol, such as Kenn-dein-Limit or smart-rechner.de. However, they only ever provide approximate values. “How quickly and how much alcohol you end up with in your blood is very individual,” warns Schäfer. So, it’s better to leave the car behind. Or switch to non-alcoholic drinks in the future. A few tasty examples:

Even though there are many effective remedies for a hangover, the work processes of your liver can only be accelerated acutely with bed rest and by not taking additional medication. So if there’s something coming up the day after the binge that requires you to be sober, it’s better to stop drinking early. And it’s best to avoid using a car altogether.

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