A Doctor Explains Why Drinking Alcohol On An Empty Stomach Is Never a Good Idea

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Playing Does Food Actually Absorb Alcohol? A Doctor Answers
Does Food Actually Absorb Alcohol? A Doctor Answers Aired April 30, 2019

Mama knows best, but when it comes to medical questions, moms who are also doctors tend to know even better.

When one of our viewers asked whether her mom's advice to eat before going out (because food absorbs alcohol) has scientific evidence to back it up, Dr. Roshini Raj was happy to explain.

So, do you actually get less drunk on a full stomach?

"There is definitely something to drinking on an empty stomach not being a great idea," Dr. Raj says. "When you're eating, [food is] going down your esophagus into your stomach. And when you're drinking as well, everything's sitting in your stomach for a little while. This is where you absorb some of your alcohol."

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When it goes to your intestine, that's where your alcohol is going to be absorbed very quickly, according to Dr. Raj.

"So anything that keeps the alcohol in your stomach longer is a good thing. You're not going to absorb it as quickly — and that's what food does."

If you have food in your stomach, especially a high-fat meal, it's going to close the sphincter at the base of your stomach, the doctor explains. This keeps everything in your stomach a little bit longer, "so it's not going to pass into your intestine," Dr. Raj says.

Basically, the longer the alcohol stays in your stomach, rather than going into your intestine and your bloodstream, the more time your body has to absorb the alcohol.

Eating foods high in healthy fats can encourage this, Dr. Raj says, so have a meal that involves avocado or peanut butter before drinking. You also want to mix in protein like chicken or fish, she continues. And of course, hydration is important, so in addition to drinking water, the doc suggests having hydrating fruits and vegetables like watermelon and cucumber.

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As Dr. Raj points out, you're still going to get intoxicated if you drink alcohol. Eating beforehand can provide a buffer, so you may not feel the effects of the alcohol (feeling drunk and feeling hungover) as quickly — but you want to drink in moderation no matter what, she says.

"Don't do it on an empty stomach — you're not going to feel good," Dr. Raj says.

Always drink responsibly.

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