HOW ALCOHOL RETARDS DIGESTION
And here, so as to offer those that aren’t conversant in , the method of digestion, a transparent idea of that important operation, and therefore the effect produced when alcohol is crazy food, we quote from the lecture of an English physician, Dr. Henry Monroe, on “The Physiological Action of Alcohol.”
“Every quite substance employed by man as food consists of sugar, starch, oil and glutinous matters, mingled together in various proportions; these are designed for the support of the animal frame.
The glutinous principles of food fibrine, albumen and casein are employed to create up the structure; while the oil, starch and sugar are chiefly wont to generate heat within the body.
“The initiative of the digestive process is that the ending of the food within the mouth by means of the jaws and teeth.
On this being done, the saliva, a viscid liquor, is poured into the mouth from the salivary glands, and because it mixes with the food, it performs a really important part within the operation of digestion, rendering the starch of the food soluble, and gradually changing it into a kind of sugar, after which the opposite principles become more miscible with it.
Nearly a pint of saliva is furnished every day for the utilization of an adult.
When the food has been masticated and mixed with the saliva, it’s then passed into the stomach, where it’s acted upon by a juice secreted by the filaments of that organ, and poured into the stomach in large quantities whenever food comes in touch with its mucous coats.
It consists of a dilute acid known to the chemists as acid , composed of hydrogen and chlorine, united together in certain definite proportions.
The digestive juice contains, also, a peculiar organic-ferment or decomposing substance, containing nitrogen something of the character of yeast termed pepsine , which is definitely soluble within the acid just named.
That digestive juice acts as an easy chemical solvent, is proved by the very fact that, after death, it’s been known to dissolve the stomach itself.”
It is a mistake to suppose that, after an honest dinner, a glass of spirits or beer assists digestion; or that any liquor containing alcohol even bitter can in any way assist digestion.
Mix some bread and meat with gastric juice; place them during a phial, and keep that phial during a sand-bath at the slow heat of 98 degrees, occasionally shaking briskly the contents to imitate the motion of the stomach; you’ll find, after six or eight hours, the entire contents blended into one pultaceous mass.
If to a different phial of food and digestive juice , treated within the same way, I add a glass of ale or a quantity of alcohol, at the top of seven or eight hours, or maybe some days, the food is scarcely acted upon in the least .
this is often a fact; and if you’re led to ask why, I answer, because alcohol has the peculiar power of chemically affecting or decomposing the digestive juice by precipitating one among its principal constituents, viz., pepsine, rendering its solvent properties much less efficacious.
Hence alcohol can’t be considered either as food or as a solvent for food.
Not because the latter certainly, for it refuses to act with the digestive juice .
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“‘It may be a remarkable fact,’ says Dr. Dundas Thompson, ‘that alcohol, when added to the digestive juice , produces a white precipitate, in order that the fluid is not any longer capable of digesting animal or substance .
‘ ‘The use of alcoholic stimulants,’ say Drs. Todd and Bowman, ‘retards digestion by coagulating the pepsine, an important element of the digestive juice , and thereby interfering with its action.
Were it not that wine and spirits are rapidly absorbed, the introduction of those into the stomach, in any quantity, would be an entire bar to the digestion of food, because the pepsine would be precipitated from the answer as quickly because it was formed by the stomach.’ Spirit, in any quantity, as a dietary adjunct, is pernicious on account of its antiseptic qualities, which resist the digestion of food by the absorption of water from its particles, in direct antagonism to chemical operation.”