Understanding Acetaldehyde and Glutathione
Fermentation and the creation of ethanol is really only half the story in the chemistry of alcohol. The other half occurs once it is consumed and the ethanol reacts with chemicals in the body, which results in a pretty gnarly metabolite that makes ethanol look like Kool-Aid.
Fortunately, there is an answer to this issue, but first let’s take a look at the culprit.
• Problem: Acetaldehyde
The liver oxidizes ethanol as part of the process to rid contaminates from the body, and acetaldehyde is a byproduct of that process. This compound is highly toxic and a known irritant and carcinogen.
In other words, it is bad news. It has been linked to Alzheimer’s disease, can damage DNA and can cause abnormal muscle growth when it binds to proteins. If that weren’t enough, it is also blamed for one of the causes of hangovers.
Fortunately, the human body can further metabolize this chemical into ascetic acid, which is harmless; however, extensive exposure can cause lasting problems or even cancer. This is why it’s important to make sure your body’s defenses are fortified.
• Solution: Glutathione
Glutathione is a powerful naturally occurring antioxidant. It binds to carcinogens in the liver, such as those produced through alcohol consumption, and transforms them into harmless waste that can then be expelled.
The glutathione well is not bottomless, however, and increased alcohol consumption can deplete the body’s supply, leaving none for regular processes.
Raising glutathione levels through supplements has proven difficult, but NAC (N-Acetyl-Cysteine) and reduced glutathione show promise. Both are available as supplements and have demonstrated the ability to raise glutathione levels.
Keeping some glutathione on hand, along with exercising safe drinking habits, will definitely keep you ahead of the curve.
Of course, I should remind everyone that our blog entries are for your information only and are not intended as medical advice. Because everyone is different, you should work with your medical professional to determine what’s best for you. If you’re going to drink, do it legally and responsibly; don’t be stupid =).