Page last updated: Tuesday, November 18, 2008
Type of mixer in spirits affects alcohol absorption
The volume of alcohol ingested and how it is mixed with other beverages can affect the health of the gastrointestinal (GI) system according to two papers presented at Digestive Disease Week® 2006 (DDW). DDW is the largest international gathering of physicians, researchers and academics in the fields of gastroenterology, hepatology, endoscopy and gastrointestinal surgery.

Chris Rayner, lead author of the study ‘Artificially Sweetened, Compared to Regular Mixers, Accelerate Gastric Emptying and the Rate of Alcohol Absorption’ explained that when alcohol is mixed with beverages such as orange juice or soda, the rate of alcohol absorption into the blood stream depends not only on the individual, but also the “mixer.”

Researchers at the Royal Adelaide Hospital in Australia analysed alcoholic beverages mixed with diet or regular soda (with sucrose) to determine the rate of gastric emptying and blood alcohol response. They found that alcohol combined with sugar-free mixers were processed through the stomach and entered the blood stream much more quickly than alcohol with regular mixers.

Participants were monitored to track the rate at which vodka with different mixers emptied from the stomach and their subsequent blood alcohol concentration (BAC) levels. From this study, the team discovered that the substitution of artificial sweeteners for sucrose in mixed alcoholic beverages might have a substantial effect on the rate of gastric emptying and the blood alcohol response. The time to empty half of the diet drink from the stomach was 21 minutes, compared to regular drinks that took 36 minutes for the same degree of emptying. Peak blood alcohol concentrations were substantially greater with diet drinks at an average of 0.05 percent, while regular drinks measured at 0.03 percent BAC.

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