Alcohol; what does a standard drink look like? How it is dealt with in the body? Tips to reduce help clear this toxin.

Alcohol, in its purest form is Ethanol.

10grams of Ethanol equals 12.4 ml of pure ethanol.

To make it simple, a 100ml glass of wine is equal to 1 standard drink at 13.5% alcohol.

The average serving in a restaurant is 150ml = 1.6 standard drinks.

A mid-strength beer on the other hand is 3.5% alcohol and is one standard drink in 375ml.

A spirit shot is 30ml and 0.9 standard drink.

It is the amount in ml v’s the % of alcohol that ascertains the standardisations.

Alcohol is different from food in the way it is absorbed into the body.  About 20% enters straight into the blood stream from the stomach, and it can be in the brain just within minutes.

The rest of the alcohol is absorbed in the same way as food, through the stomach and into the intestines.

Once it has been absorbed, then it’s then the job of the liver to clear this toxin, because that is what it is. A toxin.

Here’s the catch.  The liver stops doing everything else until all that alcohol is gone. 

Normally, the liver uses fatty acids as fuel, and when there is too much it sends them out on triglycerides into the rest of the body. 

When you drink alcohol, this mechanism has to stop, and so the fats accumulate and you may have heard of term ‘alcoholic fatty liver ‘and this is what’s happening.

The liver can only process about that 10gms of ethanol an hour, so that’s where the standard drink amount comes into it. Some of it is also comes out in the breath, sweat and urine, but that is only about 3-10 %

Unfortunately, ladies, I don’t have good news here, by nature women have less of the enzyme that breaks alcohol down than men.  So, we do get drunk faster.

This enzyme that is needed in the liver to do the first steps in processing alcohol is extremely harmful.  Acetaldehyde. After this step it is converted into something that the body can remove safely.

In the process of doing this, Niacin or Vitamin B3 is need, so if there is not enough B3, this can prolong or stall the process and can leave the toxic substance acetaldehyde around longer.

Acetaldehyde breaks Vitamin B6 from its protective binding protein so that is it destroyed, causing B6 deficiency.

Vitamin B6 is needed to manage our response to important neurotransmitters like dopamine, adrenaline, serotonin and melatonin.

Vitamin B3 if being used up to detoxify the alcohol can’t then serve its purpose in methylation which provides you with energy, and many other important functions of the body.

When you have an alcohol blood test the measure of the amount of alcohol in the blood is based on a mathematical equation.  It takes 40 litres of water to dilute 10grams, so the ethanol amount is one standard drink.

A wee bit of maths gives a reading of 0.025 g/dl and two drinks will be 0.05 g/dl which is the limit to drive.

Alcohol also carries empty calories, there is no surprises there.

There is 29 kj/g ethanol per 10gms. This amount is less than fat, but more than carbohydrates and proteins.

You most likely already know that if you haven’t had any food recently this can be an issue food slows down the absorption process.

Carbohydrates slow down it down. 

High-fat snacks slows peristalsis, keeping the alcohol in the stomach longer

But salty snacks make you thirsty, so you will drink more….


The Rules

It is advised to drink no more than 2 standard drinks to reduce your harm due to alcohol related disease or injury over a lifetime

Drinking no more than 4 standard drinks per one occasion.

I.e. Wine – 400ml at a time. – so that is less than ½ bottle of wine

Or 4 mid-strength beers.


Tips for drinking

Drink slowly enough for the liver to keep up.

Alternate each alcoholic drink with water.

Eat before drinking.

If you feel like you want to drink more, then chose a low alcohol drink.

An there are more options to buy non-alcoholic but alcoholic looking drinks these days.


I hope you have found this post interesting and I hope it may sway you from having that ‘extra drink’.

If you’d like to know more, you are welcome to join my free membership on facebook. Thyroid, Metabolic, Hormone Harmony Hub. 


I’d love to see you there


Inspiring Wellness





Whitney E, Rady Rolfes S, Crowe T, Walsh A. Understanding Nutrition. 4th ed. Victoria, Australia: Cengage Learning Australia; 2019. Alcohol 242-252 p.

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