How Your Body Processes the Alcohol in Beer

Body Processes Alcohol

Image by Sam Soulek

What happens to beer made at your favorite Flagstaff breweries after you sip it? Food must be digested before your cells absorb its energy, but alcohol doesn’t follow these rules. Alcohol starts metabolizing as soon as it is absorbed, traveling to every organ in your body while your body processes the alcohol in beer. Follow the journey beer takes inside your body.

From First Sip to Small Intestine

After you swallow, the beer travels down to your stomach. Here your stomach walls absorb the alcohol where it then travels through your bloodstream and on to your small intestine.

From Small Intestine to Liver

The small intestine absorbs most of the alcohol, but not all of it. The rest travels through a large blood vessel to your liver. Your liver metabolizes the alcohol and converts it into energy. But here’s the catch: your liver also converts glucose from other carbohydrates into energy, but this process stops while beer is in your system. A healthy liver can process .5 ounces of pure alcohol per half hour, which is about 6-12 ounces of beer.

From Liver to Heart

The alcohol doesn’t stop there. It travels on from your liver to your heart. Because of alcohol, your heart muscle contractions reduce in strength. This means you pump out slightly less blood, your blood vessels relax, and your blood pressure temporarily decreases. Don’t panic! Heart contractions soon return to normal, but your blood vessels can remain relaxed for up to 30 minutes.

From Heart to Lungs

The alcohol flows on in your blood from you heart’s pulmonary vein to your lungs. Now each time you exhale, alcohol comes out too—and that’s why you have beer breath! Your newly oxygenated blood still carries the alcohol through the pulmonary artery to your heart where it travels up and out through the aorta.

From Blood to Skin

While it’s in your system, alcohol makes it harder for your blood to clot. This reduces your risk of heart attack and stroke. Alcohol expands your blood vessels, so your blood flows up from the center of your body to your skin surface. That’s why your skin feels warmer and appears flushed. Alcohol also seeps through your pores and odorizes your perspiration. In other words, you sweat beer!

From Blood to Brain

Blood travels to the brain, and the alcohol tags along for the ride. Alcohol temporarily slows the transmission between nerve cells that control your ability to move and think. Expect fuzzy thinking, impaired judgment, and blurred vision while beer is in your system until your liver processes all the alcohol in your system.

Remember this when you’re drinking a pint at your favorite breweries in Flagstaff. This is another reason why we support responsible, moderate drinking along the Flagstaff-Grand Canyon Ale Trail.

One thought on “How Your Body Processes the Alcohol in Beer

  1. Why We Enjoy The Taste Of Beer – Flagstaff-Grand Canyon Ale Trail

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