This happens to your body when you drink alcohol on an empty stomach.

Drinking alcohol on an empty stomach is something that all people do at some point, be it when leaving work, in an afternoon with friends or in other situations. But is it safe to do this? Are there consequences for this intake without having eaten? We will tell you!

In general, the consumption of alcoholic beverages is accepted in society. Even so, the World Health Organization indicates that every year 3 million deaths occur in the world due to the consumption of this type of drink. It is even a risk factor in more than 200 diseases.

How is alcohol absorbed into the body?

The process of absorbing alcohol begins with its consumption by mouth. As this substance has a low molecular weight, it passes easily through cell membranes and, from there, into blood vessels. In this way, the mouth, esophagus and stomach can absorb minute amounts.

Once alcohol reaches the stomach, 15-20% is absorbed. Then it passes into the small intestine, which is where the main absorption occurs. This process then continues in the first and second portions of it (duodenum and jejunum) by 80%, and is completed in the colon.

The World Health Organization warns that no amount of alcohol is safe for health.

See also: Drunkorexia: stop eating to drink alcohol

Drinking alcohol on an empty stomach: how does food help or affect its absorption?

Ethanol absorption through the duodenum and jejunum is faster than through the stomach. For this reason, the rate of gastric emptying is an important determinant of the rate of absorption of alcohol that a person ingests.

In relation to this, science shows that the ability to absorb this substance increases on an empty stomach and decreases when it has food. This is due to the fact that the contact area decreases (as established by Fick's Law) and gastric emptying slows down.

However, fatty foods would be the exception to this rule, As they affect the motility of the stomach in a different way than other nutrients. In particular, they increase movement and make alcohol get into the blood faster.

Fortunately, foods that contain carbohydrates and protein make absorption slow and the concentration of alcohol in the blood can decrease by up to 25%.

In consecuense, Drinking alcohol on an empty stomach will determine that plasma ethanol concentrations are higher and that its toxic effects are accentuated.

Alcohol content and absorption in the body

On the other hand, absorption increases when the drink in question has a graduation of 20% to 35%, since these do not produce powerful muscular movements compared to drinks that have an alcoholic content higher than this value.

Likewise, the absorption of ethanol also increases if a copious amount is ingested at one time and not if it is taken several times in small quantities.

General effects of alcohol on the body

Like everything we eat, the liver is the organ in charge of metabolizing ethanol, since it transforms this substance into acetaminophen and then acetic acid. In addition to this, the remaining 5-10% is excreted in urine, sweat and respiration.

However, while ethanol is still present in the blood, it affects the nervous system. For this reason, the classic symptoms such as:

  • Feeling of being uninhibited.
  • Speak slurred.
  • Loss of coordination.

It should be noted that high doses of alcohol can cause a picture of intoxication, which include other symptoms such as the following:

  • Nausea, retching, and vomiting.
  • Confusion.
  • Hypothermia (low body temperature).
  • Sudden loss of coordination.
  • Slow or abnormal breathing.
  • Difficulty speaking.
  • Loss of consciousness.
  • Fainting.

Alcohol in the female sex

In addition to the above, it should be noted that women tend to have less body mass than men. In addition, it has a higher percentage of fat and a lower expression of the enzyme "acetaldehyde dehydrogenase" (responsible for forming acetic acid) in the gastric mucosa.

For these three reasons, women tend to drink more alcohol than men when ingesting the same amount of alcohol.

Alcohol in pregnant women

When pregnant women ingest ethanol, it passes through the placenta from the mother's blood to the fetus. Thus, babies are exposed to the same levels of alcohol in the blood as mothers, which can lead to various complications.

Prevention and recommendations

If it is about taking care of your health, the ideal thing is to avoid alcohol consumption. However, in case of ingesting these types of drinks, especially if it is on an empty stomach, it is worth considering the following:

  1. Choose a drink that is low in alcohol.
  2. Drink water or other non-alcoholic liquids, interspersed with an ethanol drink.
  3. Try to eat a small amount over a long period of time, before large volumes in a short time.
  4. Eat a meal one hour before drinking alcohol.

Drinking alcoholic beverages on an empty stomach accelerates its absorption and accentuates its harmful effects.

See also Can I drink alcohol if I am taking medicine?

How to feel better after drinking alcohol on an empty stomach?

The fact of drinking on an empty stomach increases the risk of suffering the famous side effect known as a "hangover". In general, this usually occurs the next day if alcohol was consumed in quantity, or if the drink had a considerable alcohol content. Symptoms may include those mentioned below:

  • Dizziness
  • Excessive thirst.
  • Decreased ability to concentrate or think clearly.
  • Headaches.
  • Mood disturbances
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Sensitivity to light and sound.
  • Stomach ache.

Although these problems can be solved on their own, you can consider the following tips to make them lessen:

  • Drink water, soup broths, or fruit juices throughout the day.
  • Sleep.
  • Eat easy-to-digest foods, such as toast, crackers, gelatin, among others.
  • Take pain relievers, such as ibuprofen, to relieve headaches.

It may interest you: 5 delicious breakfasts to relieve a hangover

It is not advisable to drink alcohol on an empty stomach

Alcohol is a substance that in itself is harmful to health, since its consumption in excess is associated with the development of diseases. When ingested on an empty stomach, it can have a greater impact on the body due to its rapid absorption. Thus, since ethanol reaches the blood earlier, it causes its classic effects and an increased risk of intoxication.

So that this does not happen, it is advisable to eat some food before taking this type of drink. On the other hand, it is ideal to drink plenty of water and avoid excesses. The best way that it does not impact health is by completely avoiding its consumption.