[02:53] About Thomas DeLauer
[09:37] How Does Alcohol Metabolize In The Body?
[12:56] On Alcohol Dehydrogenase
[19:55] On Gluten Digesting Enzymes
[26:43] On Burning Ethanol
[0:40:51] Does Alcohol Lessen the Ability to Stay in Ketosis
[0:42:22] Alcohols That Don’t Tax the Body
[0:48:43] Gluten-Free Alcohol
[0:54:06] When is it Best to Have Wine
[1:03:54] Relationship Between Glutathione and Alcohol
[1:10:00] What are the Best Kinds of Glutathione
[1:23:24] End of Podcast
Ben: Hey, what's up? It's Ben Greenfield, and if you want to know whether alcohol really makes you fat, what alcohol is the healthiest, the hidden ingredients in alcohol and a whole lot more, I have a good episode for you today, this is the ultimate alcohol damage mitigation guide with my friend Thomas DeLauer.
Now this one's going to blow your mind, as far as some of the cool things you'll learn about alcohol, when to drink it, all that jazz. If you're not into boozing, I'm sorry, but send this to somebody who is. In the meantime though, this podcast is brought to you by one of my favorite companies, Onnit. Onnit, ONNIT. You get a big old fat discount on anything from Onnit when you go to bengreenfieldfitness.com/onnit. That knows 10% off of everything. They have these amazing MCT oils. They have this savory MCT oil I've been dumping on my salad. It is basically Herbes de Provence, I don't know if I'm pronouncing that right, but you get all the benefits, all the ketone producing benefits of MCT oil, but it tastes like herbs, this cool, savory MCT oil. They do like a coconut one, they've got a pumpkin spice one that you can blend into a cup of coffee with a little cinnamon and cacao, and it tastes amazing. I'm just saying it's my recommendation for an Onnit recipe. A whole bunch of other fun goodies, functional foods, supplements, amazing mazes, kettlebells, clubbells that you can order along with your emulsified MCT oil if you like to have MCT oil and go hit heavy stuff. Slam a mace into a tire, you name it. Onnit.com/bengreenfield, onnit.com/bengreenfield. You get 10% off.
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In this episode of The Ben Greenfield Fitness Show:
“So it's kind of fun when we think about it, that the body takes something that's poison and makes more poison out of it, and it's kind of weird and twisted when you think about it.” “That's where more of the research is done in terms of what makes someone a chronic alcoholic versus someone that can flip a switch and turn it off and on, and it has to do with that catalysis.” “The more distilled, the better. That's just plain and simple, it's pure. The purer the better at that point. And hence your initial recommendation, for Everclear.”
Ben: Hey folks, its Ben Greenfield, and I know pretty much nobody that listens to this podcast has any interest in alcohol or red wine or cocktails whatsoever, but I figured heck just in case anybody might ever think about touching this stuff, I should probably have a guide for you about whether alcohol really makes you fat and what kind of alcohol is the healthiest. Hidden ingredients in alcohol you may have not thought about, I figured why not have some audio out there that could give you the ultimate alcohol damage mitigation strategy, and so that is what today's podcast is. It's not just me though, I decided to get a guy on the show who I respect 'cause I had him on the show before, and we talked about curcumin and quelling information. We talked about ginger oil, we talked about vegan fish oil options. He's a real wealth of knowledge in the area of nutrition, a real wealth of what I respect as research -based knowledge.
His name is Thomas DeLauer, and Thomas is not only one of the leading experts in the world of chronic inflammation, he's also studied up on the low-carb diet quite a bit. He used to, as you could hear, if you went back and listened to my previous podcast with him be a 280 pound, overweight corporate executive, and then he became Health & Fitness Magazine cover model, and he's been all over Ironman Magazine, Muscle & Performance, Natural Muscle Magazine, Platform Magazine, all these different type of magazines you see at the grocery store and you may have seen Thomas flexing on the cover of. His actual background is in Sports Psychology, but now, he's all over the place. He's actually working on a project that's in the second phase of trials over at UCLA to identify a strain of bacteria that can help to modulate inflammation within the body. He does a lot of formulation and supplement creation in the natural products industry. He actually has a company called Core Factor that he creates some of these products for, and I'll link to all of this stuff in the show notes as well as the previous podcast that I did with Thomas. If you just to go bengreenfieldfitness.com/alcoholpodcast, that's bengreenfieldfitness.com/alcoholpodcast.
So Thomas, welcome to the show, and of course, the million dollar question that I should probably just start things off right away here is, what do you drink, man? What's your cocktail of choice here?
Thomas: Well everything's going to make sense after I explain more of the science, when we dive deep, but whenever possible, just go with Everclear. It's going to be the stuff that has the least impact on your body, and we can go into a lot more of the detail of how it works. So basically, it's so distilled. There's this less that it could have on your body.
Ben: Oh my god, all considerations of taste and enjoyment out the window, we're taking pure health. Go with Everclear, you heard it here first from Thomas. Thomas, I personally have Everclear, I typically use it as a mixing agent for putting together little volumetrically-dosed psychedelic beverages. For example, you can use it to place a hundred microgram blot of LSD in, and then if you had 10 milliliters of Everclear to that and then you use a little dropper bottle and you take one milliliter of the Everclear with the LSD in it, you're getting 10 micrograms of LSD, meaning that you'll get a good cognitive boost, without actually say tripping all day long. That's about all I use Everclear for is to mix elicit and illegal psychedelic drugs, but for me dude, I'm either an organic, biodynamic red wine guy. I use this stuff called FitVine wine that uses these old world, microfiltration methods to get rid of the 80 plus different preservatives and chemicals that are allowed in wine these days.
Thomas: I'm from Sonoma originally, Sonoma, California. So yeah, you're speaking my language there. The amount of stuff that was even on our water, we just found out. I don't mean to interrupt, but I just had to say this. We just read something just last week that Sonoma County has some of the highest rates of cancer in the country, and it's probably because of all the sulfides and all the stuff that's just coming out of the vineyards, but anyway…
Ben: Yeah, exactly. Like the FitVine or the other one is Dry Farm Wines, right? They do like a monthly shipment to your house. I just go with the FitVine 'cause A, they sponsor me as an athlete for my competitions, and B, Dry Farm Wines does the same thing. Like a good, organic, biodynamic, low-residual sugar, low-toxin, low-sulfate wine, but it's like a different set of bottles that you get to your house each month, whereas the FitVine wine you just get… I get my basics, right? They've got a Cabernet, Pinot Noir, Zin. I don't really do a white, but I just got kind of the basic three sets of bottles by going with them. However, I should mention too that I'm a big Moscow Mule guy. That's pretty much for me. I'll either do a Moscow Mule, especially if I'm at a bar or a restaurant. Moscow Mules all day long, right? A little ginger, a little vodka or gin and a touch of mint or their red wine. That's my poison, man.
Thomas: Yo, there you go.
Ben: Alright, speaking of poison, let's do this. Alcohol, so my first question for you, I've got a lot of questions for you, dude, 'cause I know you're the guy that understands the biochemistry, this inside and out. How is alcohol actually metabolized? That's the big question I get. What happens from the time the stuff hits your lips to the time that it's actually surging through your bloodstream and spinning a few dials in your brain?
Thomas: Yeah, no. It's funny it's one of the most common questions that I get too. We just have this kind of pre-conceived notion that we just consume alcohol, alcohol does this thing to ourselves that makes us feel good and or loopy or whatever, but it's a pretty intense process. When you start understanding how laborious it is, it gives you a new appreciation for what your body is doing. It gives you a new appreciation for the alcohol that you're drinking and actually turns how you might look at alcohol. So basically as soon as alcohol, which realistically is just ethanol, it enters the body, it's immediately absorbed. So unlike typical foods that have to be broken down and then we absorb the nutrients, the effects of alcohol end up being felt immediately because it's immediately absorbed because we end up having these enzymes that start breaking it down before it ever even hits the stomach.
We actually start converting alcohol into what's called acetaldehyde, so even our saliva can start to break it down. So the enzyme that does that, we have an enzyme, it's called alcohol dehydrogenase, and basically if you break down the word dehydrogenase, it means that it's breaking down and removing hydrogens. So it's literally just breaking down that component, then it ends up going through the small intestine and then it absorbs and then it obviously, from there, going into the liver and doing a multitude of other things, but what we don't almost realize is that alcohol, once it's broken down, it turns into this acetaldehyde. This acetaldehyde can really travel many places, and even in the smallest capillaries that we would normally not have a lot of nutrients going. Some of these capillaries are so small that we're really encompassing our entire liver. So our liver has a series of very, very small micro capillaries, obviously because it’s filtering blood. Well, the interesting thing is acetaldehyde can go into these micro capillaries and really encompass the entire liver. So then the liver actually metabolize it even further by two additional enzymes.
Everything in alcohol is an enzymatic process, so you think even about the fermentation and the creation of alcohol in the first place. It's all enzymatic, and I know Ben, you talk about the importance of specific enzymes all the time. We forget that every function in our body is a response of enzymes. So of course, we have the alcohol dehydrogenase, which actually has an effect not just in the liver, but then we also have the aldehyde dehydrogenase which first metabolizes alcohol into the acetaldehyde, and then it further metabolizes it into what is called acetate. Basically, you're taking something that's already fairly pure, like ethanol is already pretty pure, and you're breaking it down into these even more pure forms, then it's ultimately metabolized into water and carbon dioxide, and thus eliminated. So that's kind of the soup-to-nets kind of process of what happens in your body.
Ben: Okay, now one thing that you mentioned was alcohol dehydrogenase, and I've got two possible rabbit holes to go down. First of all, in terms of the genetics of alcohol metabolism and the role of alcohol dehydrogenase, there's of course this stereotypical Asian businessman who gets super red-faced after a couple of beers and gets this alcohol flush reaction and a horrible hangover the next day because of a low amount of alcohol dehydrogenase production. Is that fact, is that myth? Do certain people actually produce less alcohol dehydrogenase?
Thomas: So I haven't found anything that confirms or denies that, but what ends up happening a lot of times is when alcohol dehydrogenase actually turns alcohol into acetaldehyde, it's bound, nicotinamide, adenine. I can't remember the full name, but it's a form of one of the nicotine molecules.
Ben: The Nicotinamide-Adenine Dinucleotide, NAD?
Thomas: Yeah NAD, so it's taking it into NAD. So what ends up happening is it’s how much the acetaldehyde can actually bind to that is what causes someone's ability to process alcohol. So if they're getting red-faced or they don't have enough “alcohol dehydrogenase”, usually that's the issue. I don't know if we have this predefined, repository of alcohol dehydrogenase that's just like sitting there, ready to go. A lot of it has to do, and we'll get into this, but you probably have heard of like the different cytochromes like Cytochrome-P450, that's another part of the process, and I think it has more to do with that than the dehydrogenase. So I think when you hear people that have sort of a superficial understanding of the biochemistry and what's happening in your body, they're going to lean on just alcohol dehydrogenase because it's semi-common and people know about it, but you really got to take it a little bit further because there's really even more enzymes that are kind of in it.
Ben: That surprises me 'cause I know Cytochrome-P450 metabolizes some amount of ethanol, but I actually was under the impression that these dehydrogenases, I think the two main ones are alcohol dehydrogenase and then the aldehyde dehydrogenase. I was under the impression there was a pretty significant amount of genetic influence on those particular alcohol digesting enzymes.
Thomas: Yeah, and you honestly could be right. I mean I haven't dove really deep into that world. I mean that's something I want to dive into a little bit more anyway because we always hear there's going to be people that are lightweights and people that aren't, people that can handle more, and perhaps it has something to do with different things we consume, right? Because we do build up tolerances to alcohol and the opposite, so that would almost cause me to think that perhaps there are certain enzymatic functions in our body that allow us to be preconditioned or just the opposite to be able to withstand or not withstand alcohol. So that's something I want to dive into a little bit more.
Ben: Yeah, it's interesting too because a lot of those genes, I know there's a strong association between specific alcohol and aldehyde dehydrogenase genes and risk for alcoholism, meaning coding variants in those genes would either increase or decrease alcoholism risk based on how quickly you break down ethanol. I think the idea is that if ethanol gets oxidized more rapidly or the acid aldehyde, I think, get broken down more slowly, you actually have increased risk of alcoholism which makes sense because you need more to get the same effect, kind of a fast coffee oxidizer. They have a greater propensity to be addicted to caffeine just 'cause they burn through the stuff so quickly. I fall into that category where I'll need four espresso shots or a huge, giant-ass 24-ounce cup of coffee to kind of get me going from a coffee standpoint 'cause I break the stuff down so freaking fast.
Thomas: I don’t want to go off on too much of a tangent, but I'm curious based on why you're saying that. Do you find that you crash from coffee being the way that you oxidize it, or do you just need more to get the effect that you don't crash? I'm curious 'cause I'm that way, I normally crash from caffeine.
Ben: I don't crash, I'm also very careful, you know? I drink a very low-mold, high-antioxidant, only moderate, so I use a medium. Kind of a blondish medium roast, so I'm not getting super-duper concentrated sources of caffeine. I don't have any of those confounding variables that I think are actual true confounding variables for people when they say they don't do well with coffee or they crash after coffee, meaning there's a lot of coffee with a lot of mold, a lot of acrylamides, a lot of carcinogens, a lot of artificial flavors added in. I mean there's a lot going for coffee aside from just the caffeine, so I think with a pure, moderate caffeine, medium roast, low in mold, preferably organic, you can definitely have your cup of coffee and drink it too, so to speak. Especially if you're a fast coffee oxidizer.
Thomas: Yeah, you're speaking my language. That's exactly what, and jumping back to moderation and those that can handle alcohol and those that can't. I mean there have been instances where they've been able to find that Cytochrome-P450 is much more active in metabolizing alcohol in chronic heavy drinkers. So talking about the tolerance that someone might have, whether they are genetically predestined to be able to handle alcohol or not, the fact is that as you drink more, you handle more because of that cytochrome. You think about it, it's not just alcohol that the Cytochrome-P450 has to work on. Anything that's still causing that kind of same effect in the body, and even some foods that still have some forms of alcohol in them can elicit that same result. So I firmly believe that what you eat has a big factor in how you metabolize alcohol, and I'm not just talking about in the short term. I'm talking about how you have conditioned your body, and it makes sense that someone that is highly athletic and is working out a lot and is really pushing themselves. Even if they are a heavy drinker, they probably have less of that Cytochrome-P450 because they're still very, very sensitive. People like to pin it all on dehydration. Dehydration does play a role, but it plays a role with more so the congeners, which we'll get into a minute as to why people end up feeling the ill effects of alcohol so much more when they're dehydrated already.
Ben: Okay, I want to dive into that stuff, but before we do, just to come full circle to that rabbit hole on alcohol dehydrogenase, my one question was about the genetic propensity for certain people to produce more or less which it sounds like is actually true, but it also has to do with some of those cytochrome pathways which I suppose will also correlate to your mitochondrial health to a certain extent. You know the healthier the mitochondria, the more equipped you might be to be able to handle alcohol if the Cytochrome-P450 pathways are also part of that metabolism, but the other question that I had for you related to these dehydrogenase enzymes responsible for digesting alcohol is this idea, kind of these gluten-digesting enzymes that exist out there. What do you think about supplements that are sold as dehydrogenase supplements? You know, like anti-hangover supplements, things that would help your body to somehow clean up the acetaldehyde more quickly or increase the availability of a dehydrogenase enzyme?
Thomas: Yeah, I've been seeing more of those pop up. I mean the hard part is they're very fragile, so I don't know the sustainability of them. You know something I have to research a little bit more too, but that seems difficult because it's such a fragile process and it's not like you could just orally or even intravenously really just load up on a bunch of dehydrogenase and have it an effect. There's other pathways, and the sense that detoxing occurs obviously. We've got the very broad scale ones like glutathione, and then we've got some more of these other ones. There's even catalase, have you heard of catalase before.
Ben: I've heard of catalase, but is it actually being sold as an alcohol enzyme?
Thomas: No, but that's the thing. It's like catalase makes more sense to be sold as an alcohol enzyme. Simply because that's what actually turns the alcohol into acetaldehyde, very, very first thing before the alcohol dehydrogenase. So it would make sense when you think about it that alcohol dehydrogenase occurs throughout the entire continuum of the process, whereas catalase is a little bit more in the beginning which leads me to believe that it's probably more stable or it can at least be something that would be a consumable. I'm totally speculating here, it's just based on the fact and kind of the fragility on things.
Ben: Yeah, that makes sense, and while we're on the topic of hangover pills and hangover remedies, and I know that you've got a few ideas of how glutathione synthesis or glutathione availability could affect this process that I want to ask you about a little bit later on, but just a complete aside for the Men's Health Magazine website. I actually did a whole story on hangover cures. They had me get, this was around the holidays, five different popular hangover remedies that contain milk-thistle extract, some of these things that supposedly increase dehydrogenase enzyme activity. Other popular hangover remedies like Vitamin-C, high-dose Vitamin-B, et cetera, and they had me try out each of these different hangover remedies including an IV, right? Just like a basic Myers Cocktail type of IV for both hydration and vitamin availability, and just about everything didn't really seem to put a drop in the bucket for the holiday drinking that I was unfortunately assigned, as my job, to partake in, except the IV. I found these morning-after push IV. I had a company called Fast Vitamin IVs send them up to me and just did a cubical injection, just a self-injection of the push IV. Couple of mornings, and that really, really seemed to help, but I realized not everybody's not going to give themselves an IV, so pay attention what Thomas has to say later on.
Anyways though, so back into alcohol metabolizing. So we got all this acetaldehyde that builds up, what else do we need to be aware of when it comes to how alcohol is actually metabolized?
Thomas: Alcohol itself is toxic, but what's really toxic is the acetaldehyde. Acetaldehyde is 10 to 15 times more toxic than the ethanol itself. So it's kind of fun when we think about it that the body takes something that's poison and makes more poison out of it. It's kind of weird and twisted when you think about it, but at the same time, it's important to know this. And we also have to know what ends up happening as far as a priority goes. I think we tend to forget our body has a unique ability to sort of triage things. Like it knows what is important and what's not important at that point in time. So if we have a high level of acetaldehyde, that surging at a certain point in time, the liver's going to prioritize that which mean that other phases of digestion slowdown. Other phases of liver processing and metabolism slowdown. It's the liver can process the alcohol, or in this case, the acetaldehyde. So it's pretty interesting, I feel like that's what people need to know when you are drinking.
I'm not saying that drinking is bad, I'm saying that when you are drinking, you have to know that your body at that very point in time is prioritizing that alcohol. That means that the old school of thought of eating a bunch of food to help absorb the alcohol doesn't really do much other than make you feel a little bit sick because the liver, as we all know, processes everything. It doesn't just process the alcohol, it doesn't just process poisons and pharmaceuticals and everything. It's processing everything you're eating. It's processing and breaking down fatty acids, it's doing what it needs to do. And if you are making the liver process alcohol, then all that other stuff has to take the back seat at least temporarily. And fat is actually more hard on your body than anything else. So we can get into some tactics 'cause I definitely have some takeaways for people. Just what kinds of alcohol and little processes that I've created in terms of if I can get a drink. here's what I eat and here's how I eat and here's how I try to structure it, and I think we're all from the same vain here that we'll do whatever we can to make it a little easier on our body. We’re not just all out, willy nilly. Let's just go have a good time and throw it all out the window. If there's a process, then we can make it better. Researchers have really looked at what makes people tick as far as the brain goes with alcohol and developing addictive personalities to alcohol or addictive relationships to alcohol, I should say. And a lot of it has to do, again, back with that catalase enzyme.
So get the whole liver metabolic function, but then there's actually a whole brain function that happens as well, and that's where catalase actually has it's bigger, bigger effect, and that's actually what works in terms of stimulating these different type of hydros that actually allow the brain to either become addicted to alcohol or not addicted to alcohol, and it can really distinguish addictive drinkers from social drinkers, and that's where more of the research is done in terms of what makes someone a chronic alcoholic versus someone that can flip a switch and turn it off and on, and it has to do with that catalase inside. So that's why I was so interested in okay, when is someone going to take this catalase and start looking at it a little bit differently in terms of potentially an addiction treatment protocol, an addiction treatment enzyme, but that's kind of the other side of the metabolism which we can talk about a little bit later, but basically that's the liver component and then there's the brain component, and I've kind of touched on both there, but that's how it goes. From the body into giving you the effect.
Ben: Okay, now one question that I have that you eluded to there was that the alcohol would be burnt prior to burning the other substances such as glucose or lipids or amino acids from carb fat or protein content of a meal. Is that actually true because it's very difficult for me to understand how the body physiologically would burn one primary source of fuel? When we look at ketosis, you're shuttling ketones through the metabolic pathways, but at the same time, you are engaged in some amount of glycolysis, some amount of breakdown of creatine phosphate, some amount of beta oxidation and free fatty acid utilization or if you look at exercise. You're never at a point, very rarely where you're burning pure carbohydrate or pure fat. It's always a mixture of fuels that includes some amount of nitrogen utilization and amino acid utilization as well. So when we look at alcohol, is it truly true, I guess, to use the highly scientific term truly true, that you really are just burning ethanol and nothing else?
Thomas: Kind of, so it's a two-part thing. So you're dead on, and I'll actually touch on this for one second because yes, someone who talks about the keto diet all the time, you can imagine how many people get upset with me when I talk about different glucose metabolisms that are occurring. Your body's always finding a way to burn glucose, and it's always finding a way to create glucose, no matter what. Whether you're on a ketogenic diet or not, your body needs glucose. You're always running in the combination. The interesting thing is that with ethanol, it doesn't necessarily force all glucose metabolism back. So glucose metabolism is showing to be limited, but the big thing is happening when it stops the beta-oxidation. So basically it's stopping that, so ethanol blocks the fatty acid beta-oxidation process because it inhibits what's called the peroxisome proliferation. So peroxisome proliferation is this whole process that allows fats to go through the natural peroxidation that occurs. So basically you hear a lipid peroxidation where a fat reacts with an oxygen molecule and becomes “toxic”.
Well it's not that it necessarily becomes toxic, it's just reacting with ROS, and it's kind of doing a natural thing in the body. Well ethanol stops the good process of that occurring, so it stops that whole beta-oxidation process temporarily, so it blocks it. So that beta-oxidation process can happen at multiple areas. It can happen throughout your body, it doesn't just happen in one spot. So if it's stopping in the liver, then sure. That makes perfect sense, ethanol is prioritizing that, but ethanol is only processed in the liver. It's not processed in the cells in other places. It can process in the brain, but it's broken down into something different. So the point is there's still some glucose metabolism going on throughout the course of your body, but the liver is having to focus on that. And then it's also blocking adenosine monophosphate, so when we have that, that's another precursor to really being able to create energy. So you're ultimately using a different energy source, and when we back it out, we re-look at things. You have carbohydrates that utilize a certain number or you know, four calories per gram, you got fats that are nine calories per gram, then you have alcohol appear randomly, that’s seven calories per gram. It’s actually right there showing that “okay wait a minute, it’s almost this separate macronutrient.” Ethanol is treated slightly different, it’s kind of in the same vein as how medium-chain triglycerides are eight calories versus normal fats being nine.
Thomas: They are metabolized slightly different. So although I don’t wanna say the body is a one-trick pony, the body or at least the liver, is treating alcohol, or ethanol in this case, as a macronutrient. So it has a whole different subcategory of processing that occurs.
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I also wanna tell you about something equally as tasty as coffee, and that is this turmeric gold. And yes, I have even been known to blend this with my Kion Coffee. So Organifi, this amazing company owned by my friend Drew Canole, what they’ve done is they’ve come up with this amazing twist on golden milk. Like you’d get golden milk at a coffee shop these days and it’s basically sugar and some kind of turmeric and typically some kind of premade concentrate of chemical cocktails. This is not what Organifi Gold is. What Organifi Gold did was they took turmeric but they combined it with smooth coconut milk and cinnamon and ginger and lemon balm and this relaxing mushroom called reishi, to create a warm, relaxing beverage that you could add to a little coffee to knock the edge off of coffee or that you could have on its own, a little hot water, a little almond milk at the end of the day for a nice latte you could curl up with by the fire if curling up by a fire is your thing. It’s Organifi Gold. Organifi makes all sorts of amazing powders, they have a green powder, they have a red powder, I use both and I, Organifi’s spelled with an “I”. O-R-G-A-N-I-F-I, and what you do is you get to Bengreenfieldfitness.com/organifi, use the code mentioned there and it gets you 20% off. Check ‘em out.
Ben: So coming back big picture then, we got ethanol, when you consume ethanol it’s broken down pretty much in the liver primarily by alcohol dehydrogenase, that transforms it into acetaldehyde which is technically toxic but relatively short lived and that can be broken down into acetate by aldehyde dehydrogenase, and the acetate then gets broken down to carbon dioxide and water, usually into tissues other than the liver. That’s the basics of the alcohol metabolism.
Ben: Okay, and then we have these enzymes cytochrome-P450 and catalase that also help to a certain extent, break down the alcohol to acetaldehyde, but some of those enzymes would really only be required if you were drinking a larger amount of alcohol.
Thomas: That’s correct, you nailed it, exactly.
Ben: Okay and then finally, when it comes to this idea of lipid peroxidation and the idea that alcohol consumption increases oxidative stress and leads to this lipid peroxidation, one other thing I wanna throw out there, total hypothesizing, would you be able to then say (a.) not only should you not drink alcohol in the presence of a lot of other calories because that ethanol’s gonna be burnt as a macronutrient prior to and in favor over some of those other things that you’re consuming, but you should also include either polyphenol or flavonol-rich beverages for your alcohol consumption or something that’s flavonol or polyphenol or antioxidant-rich along with it to undo the damage of some of that peroxidation that’s occurring as you’re drinking the alcohol and hence something like a glass of red wine being a good choice?
Thomas: Yes, exactly. So I’m a proponent of that, I do think that something that is gonna be a fast-acting RLS inhibitor that’s gonna at least allow your body to take a little bit of the brunt off of the liver is definitely gonna be effective because in my opinion, this is purely my opinion, but we have sort of these two areas of “detoxing” as far as antioxidants go. We have a phase that occurs after liver processing, and then we also have a phase that occurs before liver processing, and I’m hypothesizing here too based on things that I’ve looked at and things that I’ve seen, so what you’re saying coincides exactly with what I think that we have this process that we can actually encourage a little bit of the sort of negative byproducts or possibly the acetaldehyde that sort of self-destructs in the acetate before it’s ever really processed. That’s just a waste product because that’s kinda what’s been shown to, it’s very similar to ketone production. When we have ketone bodies, we have acetoacetate that’s created and acetoacetate turns into acetone. These names sound quite similar, don’t they?
Thomas: Acetoacetate, acetone, acetaldehyde, and acetate, very similar processes. What happens is acetone is just like abrupt self-destruction of the acetoacetate in the case of ketosis. Well, the same thing can happen with alcohol where it’s almost kind of skipping this effect of the acetaldehyde and just self-destructs into acetate which is just basically goes from being alcohol that you’re consuming directly into something that’s just toxic. So by having antioxidant-rich beverages or anything like that, you are stopping those from having an effect immediately, and those are the ones that probably aren’t getting you any kind of positive effect out of your alcohol. Those are the ones that are just going straight to making you feel like garbage.
Thomas: So I actually think not only is it good for your health to have high flavonols but also I think that it could make the buzz that you get from alcohol cleaner and better.
Ben: Hmm, interesting. And could you also say, based off of what you just described in terms of ethanol and its similarity to ketones and that you are getting some acetoacetate production, that it would be able to put you into a state of ketosis or is this kind of like when you’re trying to be on a ketotic diet or in a state of ketosis and you’re not burning the ketones, generally they’ll show up as acetone bodies in the urine. Is a usable form of ketone such as a beta-hydroxybutyrate pretty much impossible as a side product of alcohol metabolism if you’re seeing ketones in your urine, it’s just completely unusable ketones from the alcohol?
Thomas: Well acetone is expelled through the breath. Acetoacetate is actually…
Ben: Alright, acetoacetate.
Thomas: Yeah, so that’s interesting, that’s a whole another conversation. But in short, yeah if you’re showing high levels of acetoacetate, it means that you’re already having excess levels of ketones. So if you have extra beta-hydroxybutyrate coming in at that point, unless you are planning on doing a very intense hybrid mix of anaerobic and aerobic activity, I don’t see a whole lot of benefit, especially if you’re already showing a lot of acetoacetate. So if you’re already showing that your body doesn’t know how to handle all these ketones, this happens with people that first go into ketosis a lot. They show heavy amounts in their urine because their bodies just haven’t developed the mitochondrial machinery to understand how to process all this fat.
Thomas: So the livers are processing it and they know what to do with it, but then the cells are like “Uhh, what do we do with this?” And so you just excrete it, and then they become keto adapted and all of a sudden they’re like “I’m not showing on the strips anymore” and they freak out and it’s like “No, your body just became adapted, that’s what’s happening.”
Thomas: So if you get to a point where you’re showing it on the urine strips again, something has changed. Either your athletic activity has gone down, you’re more sedentary, your fats have increased. And indicator that you’re actually, not necessarily consuming too much fats but you’ll probably just create excess ketones, so by supplementing beta-hydroxybutyrate at that point in time, it needs to be sort of a preamble to “I’m about to go have some combination of anaerobic and aerobic activity” like a mud run or something like that. It’s a perfect example, right? Where you actually are going to… and I think, actually come to think of it, you and I kinda talked about that a little bit. You have explored with some exogenous ketones when you’re doing that kind of activity, right?
Ben: I have, I’ve used ketone esters and I’ve also used beta-hydroxybutyrate salts, and found both to be effective for exercise, absolutely. I think that’s something that a lot of people are aware of nowadays. I guess my main thought pattern here was when drinking alcohol, are you going to somehow, because alcohol can produce a form of ketone, we know ketonuria for example, ketones in the urine is something you observe quite a bit in alcoholics and heavy drinkers. Could you use alcohol consumption as a way to enhance a state of ketosis is I guess what I’m saying, or is that just a faulty thought pattern?
Thomas: Actually I hadn’t thought about that.
Ben: I mean coz you’re getting acetoacetate and some amount of beta-hydroxybutyrate.
Thomas: You definitely are, so it’s like you could either… that might explain why people tend to say that when they’re on a ketogenic diet and they’re drinking alcohol, that they end up feeling more cognitively aware and actually almost astute feelings when they drink, when they’re in ketosis versus the opposite. They also say that their hangovers a lot of times are worse so it’s kind of interesting. So it’s like… does that mean that they’re just producing more? I dunno, that’s an interesting thought that gets me thinking on that.
Ben: Yeah, well if you’re listening in and you have some experience with alcohol consumption and ketosis, let us know. But yeah, I know… probably engaging in a heavy amount of drinking to the point where you’re producing a significant amount of acetoacetate and beta-hydroxybutyrate, bodies would result in enough acetaldehyde toxicity to where it probably wouldn’t be a good strategy for getting into ketosis, in my opinion, just throwing that out there. So what about when it comes to the actual choice of alcohol? We talked about red wine as an antioxidant-rich beverage that could decrease the amount of lipid peroxidation that occurs from for example the metabolism of alcohol you’ve described, Thomas. Are there other forms of alcohol that are not quite as labor intensive on the body or that help to undo some of the potential aldehyde or acetaldehyde toxicity issues with alcohol?
Thomas: Not so much in the way of the acetaldehyde issues, coz the thing is that alcohol is alcohol, ethanol is ethanol, and how we are going to process that is pretty straightforward. But what we do have to look at is the other things that come into play when comes down to how alcohols are made. There’s of course, [0:42:56] ______ but we can talk about, we talked a little bit about wine like the sulfates and anything like that. Those are pretty powerful in terms of what they do with your liver, and again liver is prioritizing this acetaldehyde at that very point in time no matter how small of a process it is and how small of a window of time, we could be talking nanoseconds here. But when you have other things that are in play, and the fermentation process of foods in general can yield a very positive effect but can also yield a very negative effect that can be hard on the body depending on what kind of enzymes are created and what kind of process it goes through. So you’re creating alcohol, depending on where that alcohol is rooted makes a big, big difference. When you have grains in whiskey and vodka and things like that, if it’s not processed all the way, if it’s not distilled multiple times, you still have prolamins. So you still have these prolamins that can have an effect on the body that can still raise TPO antibodies in the body. So you can have, for example, celiac-like effects on the body if you’re consuming consistent amounts of an alcohol that’s coming from grain.
Ben: Okay, so prolamins are like these plant storage proteins. You find them in wheat and barley and rye and all these other grains. Now what you’re saying is that those prolamins stay intact during the process of fermentation?
Thomas: So it’s been speculated that when you process, when you go through fermentation process, that some of the proteins in general stay intact. That’s what you’re talking about like the proof of an alcohol, how much is pure ethanol and how much is just the remnants of whatever has been fermented? So they’re all gonna say like with fruit, for instance, there’s still elements of fructose that are there, there’s still elements of proteins that are there, and if there’s elements of proteins that are there, you basically have these prolamins which are carriers of that. Now that’s whether or not you wanna look at it from the side of how it’s gonna affect your immune system which I’ll talk about in a second. It’s still additional particles that your body’s breaking down. So if you come from the school of thought that, and although there isn’t a whole lot of research into backing a lot of this up, the more distilled the better, that’s just plain and simple. It’s pure, the purer the better at that point.
Ben: Hence your initial recommendation for Everclear.
Thomas: Some will argue that you’re missing out on some of the health benefits and the antioxidant properties that actually might remain. That’s a good question to look into a little bit more, for example we would have… if we were to take wine and just go all the way and continue to bring it into as pure of an alcohol as we could from wine, would some of the antioxidants still remain? Even if we took grapes and got it down to, let’s say we got it down to like 160 proofs or something, would it still carry the resveratrol, would it still carry the antioxidants? Maybe it carries remnants of them and your body can piece them together, but that’s kind of a gamble. When you know that you can just have a distilled version of it and just get it down as clean as possible, then you know that all your body has to worry about is that alcohol dehydrogenase-catalase process, a lot easier. Again, it all depends on who you talk to, but the prolamins… po-tay-to, po-tah-to, some people say pro-la-mins, some people say pro-la-means, but they’re the carrier protein. So what ends up happening is you have different prolamins that carry protein.
Whenever you consume a grain, they have these prolamins that react within your body, and the hard part is the body sometimes has a hard time differentiating these different prolamins if you have a sensitivity to, say gluten, or if you have a sensitivity to another prolamin. So when they’re broken down, it can be hard on the immune system because the immune system is basically trying to trigger a response with TPO antibodies and other antibodies to these various essential structures. It’s that same way that someone that has a celiac disorder would actually be affected by gluten. This is happening on a different scale and different magnitude, and whether you feel it or not, that’s extra heck that is being put on your body. So that’s why I’m such a big fan of going as distilled as possible, so with that, there’s some out there that are like quadruple distilled vodka, that’s always good to go. Gin is really, really good if it’s as much as you can possibly get it in a pure form. Very dry wines, whenever possible, and I haven’t heard of the brand you talked about but that sounds phenomenal because again, coming from Sonoma, I’m used to these wines that are just full of chemicals, and so that’s interesting. I’d actually, on a personal note, like to know more about that one. Is it pretty dry, by the way?
Ben: It’s very dry, it has a longer fermentation process so it’s not quite as sweet, and although I’m not aware of the prolamin content of it, just the fact that the starting source is a grape rather than a grain gives me a pretty good feeling about it. It is considered to be a dry red wine, and dry red wines typically range in like the 4-5 grams of net carbs per glass. It’s relatively low in sugars too, a lot of people will call these things Keto-wines. But the other thing regarding the alcohol that I wanted to ask you about is, of course, when we’re talking about grains, the elephant in the room is beer, and there’s now these beer companies, Omission is one, and I’ll put a link if you guys go to bengreenfieldfitness.com/alcoholpodcast. Omission, some of these smaller microbreweries, they’re now advertising what is called gluten-removed beers where they’re using some kind of a special enzyme to break down the gluten protein. Not to remove it but break it down, do you have any opinion on any of these popular gluten-free beers?
Thomas: Yeah, I mean I have an opinion, and it’s… you take it for what it’s worth, but when you’re breaking down gluten, you’re still having remnants of gluten. So it’s… the immune system is smart. At first it sounds like the immune system is stupid because as we say that it has a hard time differentiating between different prolamins, but it’s also smart in a sense that it’s still gonna elicit a response and try to piece things together. So although we may not have the intense effect, we might still have the empty body response through someone that is gluten-intolerant.
Ben: Right, like a celiac. Coz I know, anytime we’re talking about an enzymatic reaction, all you do is take a large protein, bring it down to smaller protein, and if you had something like celiac disease, that’s a pretty intensive reaction to gluten. And so all you’re essentially saying is “I’ve got a large gluten molecule, I’ll make it into really small gluten molecules but it’s gluten nonetheless, here you go”, I would say if you’re just one of those people who avoids gluten coz you’re kinda trying to be careful due to brain fog or so called grain brain issue or something like that, I wouldn’t be as concerned with something like celiac disease, you’re still drinking a bunch of gluten in these gluten-free beers.
Thomas: Yeah, I think I would argue that they probably can even get the designated gluten-free certification.
Ben: I don’t think the U.S. government allows them based on what I just described to have an actual gluten-free cert.
Thomas: Yeah, that’s what I thought, coz they’re gonna look at it and they’re gonna say there’s still gluten in this. And sometimes, say what you want about the U.S. government, but sometimes is really black and white how we have to look at things.
Thomas: It’s, yeah that’s interesting to really think about a little bit more. You’re probably not going to have the same effects that you would if there was a full gluten molecule but gluten isn’t always the issue. The hard part is people have reactions, these crossover reactions where sometimes they think that they have a gluten intolerance coz like there’s five prolamins that are mainly existent. A lot of times, in any given grain or gluten or anything like that, we have three of these prolamins that are always crossing over, and if you do the math you really back it out that there can be situations that gluten is sharing the same common denominator as all these other grains. So what’s happening is you get these crossover reactions where people think they have an issue with gluten but mainly they have another issue with one of these other prolamins. And it just so happens to constantly show up in gluten, but they’re really getting similar effects even when they have rice or even when they have a very specific… and that’s the crazy thing with prolamins, that it can change from every different grain.
A different strand of basmati rice versus a short-chain, they can all be different and you just don’t know. And the general population of course, and no fault to them, is not going to be in tune with their body enough to know that when I eat basmati rice, I get diarrhea but when I eat short-grain rice, I don’t. I mean it’s just, we as people that are listening to this podcast, you and I Ben, we would probably point it out, we’d probably figure it out. But the thing is we can’t expect everyone in the world to be thinking about their diet that way.
Thomas: And so I guess my point is that I just wouldn’t trust it if you have a medical condition but I do like that there’s an effort there. Some of these hard siders might be a better option for people like that, though.
Ben: Right, that makes sense. And I also wanna ask of course, about things other than acetaldehyde and the gluten or the grain or the prolamins. What are some other things in alcohol that we should be careful with and that would lead you to want to look for something like a quadruple distillation method?
Thomas: Yeah, well of course obviously you’re gonna wanna look at the sugar, that’s a pretty big one. If there’s added sugar into the process, you have to remember that denovo lipogenesis is accelerated a lot more when you’re drinking, so whenever you’re… that means sugar is going to turn to fat a lot easier. Fructose is gonna turn to fat a lot easier, fruity drinks, things like that that have higher fructose content, which can by the way fructose can only be metabolized by the liver to begin with. So when we are already taxing the liver, if it’s gonna have some fructose in it, it’s definitely something you’ll wanna avoid. So mixing alcohol with fruit or fruity beverages is a big no-no especially if you’re looking to moderate your waistline.
Ben: Yeah, I would toss the exception in there for me personally and the way I kinda hack this is I will drink my alcohol in a relatively glycogen depleted state, meaning that the liver does contain the enzyme necessary for converting fructose into storage glycogen. Muscles don’t, but for me I don’t eat a lot most of the day, I do a lot of fats, moderate amount of proteins, I have a pretty hard workout at the end of the day, and by the time I get into the 7-8pm hour, I know I’ve got some pretty serious muscle and some partial liver glycogen depletion going on. So I actually don’t have wine or any alcoholic beverage with dinner, or after dinner. And if I’m offered one after dinner especially, I’ll typically decline a post-dinner glass of wine. I pretty much exclusively drink either in the early, early stages of a meal or in the 30-60 minutes leading up to dinner, when I actually have slightly emptied liver glycogen levels.
Thomas: That’s actually really clever, that’s a lot of what I would sort of say with my protocol anyway, so that’s… yeah that makes perfect sense.
Ben: And I mean honestly, let’s face it, when you’re hungry, post-workout and you have a glass of wine, you certainly get if you’re looking for the brain spinning effects of a small glass of alcohol a lot more readily so you gotta drink less as well.
Thomas: That’s very, very true. And some people don’t always look at it like that, if you’re trying to just get the effects of alcohol then less is more. I dunno if it’s necessarily something I’d be proud of to… it takes me a lot to get the effect of alcohol coz it’s more you have to put in your body.
Ben: Yeah, and of course when you wake up in an overnight fasted state, you also have somewhat empty liver glycogen levels so the whole Bloody Mary thing for breakfast could be another time to have your daily serving of alcohol, potentially.
Thomas: [laughs] Quite honestly, you’re right.
Ben: If you take anything away from this podcast, drink Everclear and drink it when you wake up in the morning. What else, what are some other things in alcohol that you need to be looking for aside from the sugar and the prolamin?
Thomas: Yeah, well the prolamins you’re never gonna really be able to truly identify. You should know where it’s coming from.
Ben: Well, they’re not gonna be on the label but I mean you know if you’re drinking a beer or some medium that’s not very distilled at all, and is derived from a grain, you pretty much guarantee prolamin content.
Thomas: Exactly. One of the other things, of course like we talked about, be careful of what you are combining it with, but you wanna be looking at how long the actual fermentation process is. You can usually do a simple search with whatever alcohol you’re a fan of and tend to find how long their actual fermentation process is. Some of these companies have accelerated fermentation processes which where they’re cranking out high quantities of products so they accelerate fermentation by either adding other components into it or by putting them in chambers that’ll ferment faster. And that whole fermentation process is always best, fermentation is a beautiful thing and has the ability to, like I said earlier, cause so many amazing positive things in your body when it’s altered. That’s when we are kinda putting this man-made spin on it.
So usually, if you go to a site or you just email their support, they’ll usually tell you how long their fermentation process is. With alcohol, it varies depending on what is actually being distilled, what is actually being fermented. With rice, I know it can happen a bit shorter because the starch molecules are a little bit shorter, but some of these other ones have these other polysaccharides and fructose, they should be fermenting longer. So for example your favorite, can’t name any brands or anything, but if you think of some of the gins or possibly some of the tequilas since we’re talking about agave fructose, if your actual tequila is fermenting for a lesser period of time than your vodka, you have a problem. [laughs] So that’s the kind of things that I would be really cognizant of, but for the most part there’s not a whole lot that I else know of to look at when you’re looking at an alcohol. It’s really a pretty basic structure. I mean, there’s things you should be cognizant in terms of like your glutathione production in your own body, but those are also things that you can do with your exercise and your diet to kind of modulate yourself to help your body fight it off.
Ben: What about fillers? If you’re getting something like a vodka, tequila, or gin rye, pretty good distillation process, you’re decreasing some of that prolamin content, are there any congeners, preservatives, any of these so called natural flavors added, other things that you need to look for that kinda fly under the radar?
Thomas: Yeah, sometimes they even put form of other minerals in there. So sometimes you’ll see forms of different calcium, things like that, added in there, just because they’re trying to actually keep structure there. So a lot of times, minerals are good obviously, we don’t necessarily wanna say that minerals are bad, but they’re sort of acting as a preservative in this case because they’re something that gives it a little more shelf stability without actually having to add a chemical to it. There are a multitude of different chemicals that people added to alcohol so you always have to be cognizant of that. Preservatives in general, sulfates, sulfites, all those are exceptionally common especially in the wine world, so whenever possible… unfortunately it’s becoming more common with the local, small scale breweries, things like that for them to put stuff into them too just because they’re moving less quantity.
So sometimes there’s like two sides of the coin, there’s the side where they’re accelerating the process and accelerating the fermentation because they can’t keep up with demand, but there’s also the side where it’s like these smaller scale and they haven’t quite determined their inventory control so they make larger batches that they can’t always sell off. So some of these smaller breweries, smaller distilleries end up having problems when they create them and they have to sit on the shelf for a long time. And that’s where they unknowingly are adding way too in the way of preservatives just to make sure they’re confident in the fact that they aren’t moving the quantity they want to move yet. So whenever possible, just make sure that it’s pure, that’s just what we have to look at. If there’s anything that you can’t pronounce in there, just go back to the basics, make sure it shouldn’t be there. Alcohol is already a very sensitive process to break down, so why add more complication to it?
Ben: Okay, got it. Before we turn to enhancing your body’s ability via something like glutathione production, anything else from the actual composition of the drink itself that we need to take into consideration?
Thomas: I think we pretty much covered it.
Ben: Hmm, okay.
Thomas: I mean I can always go a little bit deeper with some other stuff, but it’s usually just, again at that point, congeners and anything like that. The mash fermentation but I think we’re all good there.
Ben: Okay, got it. And then there’s one other thing I should mention, I was talking about the best time of day to have a glass of wine or a cocktail, we shouldn’t underplay the fact that from an ancestral standpoint, we see pretty significant use of a lot of these bitters and digestives often in the form of cocktails consumed prior to a meal to enhance the first phase insulin response or digestive enzyme production. And so one really great one that I had the other day, it’s fresh in my mind I was at an Italian restaurant, they served me this thing called Ebo Lebo. It’s a liquor and it’s extremely bitter. It’s derived from yarrow root.
Ben: And you see things like this, you see for example like I mentioned, there’s a method behind the madness that I like a Moscow mule because what is it, ginger, it’s a little lime that will… the ascorbic acid in that and some of the digestive enzyme production. It’s got mint of course, another digestive so I’m a fan of also strategically consuming your alcohol prior to or in the early stages of a meal for that reason as well. So I mean there’s more to just spinning a few dials in your brain when it comes to alcohol if we look at this from a digestive enhancement standpoint.
Thomas: Totally, yeah. So I take it a little bit differently than you but still in the same vein, so what I usually recommend is consuming some kind of higher glycemic carbohydrate that is healthy. I’m gonna use the example of a rice cake even though it is a grain and some people may have that prolamin response. It all depends on you but rice cakes are a great example just because it’s so high glycemic. When you go take a starch and you put it through the puffing process, that puffing process separates glucose molecules, makes them higher glycemic. So I usually recommend having some small thing to eat like a couple of rice cakes that’s gonna digest fast, possibly even if you’re someone that utilizes whey protein or even pea protein that can still elicit an insulin response that’s fast and quick. Controlled insulin spikes are not bad, right? That’s the thing, everyone’s like “Don’t spike your insulin if you don’t know what you’re doing by eating just a Snickers bar.” Spike your insulin the right way and understand your body and understand the peaks and valleys, so by having a couple of rice cakes prior to drinking, actually allow you to have a little bit of glycogen in your tank so you’re not kinda in this situation where the alcohol can completely decimate you, but you’re also putting a little something in your stomach, too. So you’re getting kind of the… okay, some of the remnants of starch are still gonna be in your stomach so if you’re someone that is sensitive when it comes down to alcohol consumption as far as kind of the burning feeling, I do talk to a lot of people that they feel like they have to eat whenever they drink simply because it can be hard on the stomach especially if you’re not drinking something that’s pure. Because then you have all these different insomatic functions that go on. So yeah, couple of rice cakes or something relatively high glycemic that will just not keep your glycogen level… will not elevate your liver glycogen levels and won’t stay digesting for a long period of time.
Thomas: So still, the same concept of what you’re saying, just slightly different.
Ben: Yeah, I think you can only buy that Ebo Lebo stuff I mentioned… it’s a fringe Italian website so I think you’d probably have to be an alcohol importer to get it, but I’ll link to it in the show notes if you wanna check out the stuff or you’re curious about these bitters and digestives over at bengreenfieldfitness.com/alcoholpodcast.
Now Thomas, I know you’re, in the same way, you’re a pretty good expert in the realm of chronic inflammation which I suppose could be why you got interested in this in the first place. You know quite a bit about glutathione production and glutathione absorption, so I’d like to turn to that because that’s certainly something that we see talked about quite a bit in the whole alcohol damage mitigating discussion. So in terms of glutathione production, that’s kind of an interesting process in general, how does it coincide with alcohol?
Thomas: Yeah, so the short answer is glutathione is gonna ultimately be what stops the process of alcohol really creating the oxidative effect on the body. That reactive oxygen species, having that negative oxidative stress, so we’ve got a few different forms of glutathione that are naturally occurring in your body and they all are in a process basically nullifying these different toxins. And it all comes to the fact that glutathione is an electron donor, essentially, so you got the reduced form where it’s gonna basically donate an electron, just like in any other way where you are stopping a free radical. So, any antioxidant essentially has this effect, but glutathione does it with a lot more depth. You have a free radical, then you have glutathione which donates an electron, so what that means is that it has the ability to neutralize this free radical that’s running throughout your body. And alcohol has a tendency to create a lot of them just due the processing.
So what happens is the liver has this thing called glutathione, the glutathione will go ahead and donate it’s electron to neutralize these free radicals and ultimately bring your body back to homeostasis. Hard part is glutathione takes a little while to go through its cycle to where it creates again. So it goes through not only the part where it donates the electron but then also the regeneration phase, so after glutathione donates it’s electron, or should I say the reduced form of glutathione donates it’s electron, then it becomes oxidized and it ends up leading to the formation of glutathione sulfite. So, getting kind of advanced here but basically what that means is that the oxidized form, when two reduced forms of glutathione come together after they’ve already given away their electrons. So here’s how I kinda describe it: you have a glutathione molecule…
Thomas: It sees a toxin, so it donates an electron. Then you have another glutathione molecule that’s done the same thing. [laughs] So let me get kind of crass here, but basically think of these two glutathione molecules that have both given up their electron, think of them as two divorced people that just gave up their significant others, they just had to release them for whatever reason. Then they travel around and they meet each other, and they’re like a new couple, and they’re like “Hey, guess what? Let’s do this again, let’s start this relationship.” So they do, and they become one glutathione, and that glutathione again goes off along its merry way and eventually will donate an electron. So this constantly dysfunctional process of giving away the spouse and coming together, giving it away, so you can see how eventually you run out. You start with six, go down to four, down to two, because eventually they’ve all donated an electron and become part of this, no longer the reduced form, but basically this GSSG or the regenerated form of glutathione.
Thomas: So through that process, I hope everyone’s tracking with me coz it’s kinda complex but I’m trying to simplify it, you ultimately end up with reduced amounts of glutathione in the body. And eventually your body can restore that, but after it’s stuck to a protein, it really binds to a protein for a while so you have to wait for a certain amount of time for your liver to rebuild. And that’s what is happening in the case of alcohol, is because it’s so toxic and we have this alcohol dehydrogenase that’s already broken down, the glutathione is required to really essentially neutralize the acetaldehyde. While basically, it’s giving up all its “spouses” very rapidly and eventually you run out, and it’s the depletion of glutathione that essentially is leading to the hangover effect because you have no glutathione, or very limited glutathione, I shouldn’t say no… very limited glutathione left to recover from natural processes.
So the next day, your glutathione levels are starting to replenish but the problem is they were so exhausted in fighting off the alcohol, that now they’re having a hard time fighting off just the GDTs and [laughs] toxins that we’re getting from the air, and just natural cellular waste. So you’re not feeling the effects of the alcohol generally with the hangover, in fact you’re not at all, you’re feeling the effects of your body without glutathione or without the ability to detox. So if you didn’t have glutathione, that’s just how you feel all the time. I always describe the fact that you have a miniature hangover going on in your body all the time. You’re never in a situation where you don’t have a little bit of a hangover, you just have a little bit of a hangover or a lot of bit of a hangover, and it all comes down to how that glutathione process works.
Ben: Okay, so basically we’re all living in a state where we’re constantly depleting glutathione. Now I’m well aware of this, I’m actually a glutathione junkie, I do a glutathione injection once a week now. I also do a glutathione IV once a week. I read a very interesting article about glycine and the fact that the human race, in general, tends to be glycine-deficient. That’s probably kind of a rabbit hole coz I know we’re tight on time, but glycine I know is one important building block for glutathione and the fact that humans tend to be walking around in a glycine-deficient state is something that of course also affects your glutathione levels, especially in light of the fact this stuff is constantly depleted. Now I’ll try and hunt down that article by the way on how humans are kinda hardwired to be a little bit glycine deficient so we’re always fighting uphill battle against this glutathione issue, but when it comes to glutathione absorption, that’s something that’s talked about quite a bit in especially like the natural products industry and supplement formulation industries. We know we can get glutathione from sulfur-rich foods, we can get it from whey protein isolate is another perfect example. When it comes to supplementing, like getting a dense source of glutathione, talk to me a little bit about actual absorption when it comes to glutathione.
Thomas: Yeah, so in short, oral glutathione is very, very difficult to absorb, it requires a lot of different process because it is, just like I mentioned earlier with other things, very fragile. It’s very difficult to get in, and we know that biome is harsh, that whole world is harsh. Lots of bacteria, lots of acid, lots of crazy, it’s like a volcano of chaos going on in there. So they got the stomach which hard in and of itself, but you know actually how the absorption… you can’t necessarily expect an antioxidant to just absorb through the enterocyte and just get right into action, especially something that is ultimately housed in the liver. If that was the case, then everything that we would take would just be hanging out in the liver waiting to do its job and not going through the kidney and the standard excretion process. So glutathione is exceptionally difficult, that’s why so many people go ahead and do IV injections, which is still the gold standard, it’s just not always practical. Not everyone has the ability to go and get an IV injection, so it’s become a topic of increasing interest for people that are not necessarily in the biohacking world but they’re just understanding that glutathione is sort of this tank that we have and it gets drained whenever we do anything that’s exhausting. Quite frankly, hardcore exercise will deplete glutathione levels, it’s not just alcohol.
So absorption is very, very difficult. There are some ways that you can start allowing it to do a little bit better and a lot of it has to do with chelating iron in the gun because what ends up being difficult is iron is this massive, massive component that stands in the way of absorbing so many different things simply because it’s… most pathogens and bacteria in general have a really strong affinity to iron, so it makes it so that whenever you have excess iron in the gut which is exceptionally common, we can do a whole different topic how anemia is not really this common thing, it comes down to so many other processes in the body. But we have a lot of iron and it tends to build up in our gut. So what happens is, not only for the sake of good and bad bacteria, but the bad bacteria tend to be feeding off of iron, so when you actually take specific kinds of things like lactoferrin, for instance.
Lactoferrin is something that you can take along with a glutathione supplement that goes and scavenges that free iron that also binds to lipopolysaccharides in the cell walls of bacteria in general making it a lot easier to actually absorb things because they’re not getting fought off by bad bacteria all the time. That’s a very simple way to put it, obviously the gut biome is an exceptionally advanced thing to talk about that I think we’ve only scratched the surface of. But finding a way to absorb glutathione orally is something that I’ve really worked on over the last three years but the patent that I have is called receptor cell mediated endocytosis, it’s a patent that I’d worked on for the last two and a half years, came to fruition last year. And receptor cell mediated endocytosis is literally utilizing the power of lactoferrin and how lactoferrin can be an iron chelator, allowing the proper absorption of oral supplements, in this case I’m talking specifically about glutathione because I felt there was a need for it. Plus, glutathione combines to lactoferrin naturally so while lactoferrin can go ahead and actually stop some of the iron and carry the glutathione along with it, coz not everything combines to lactoferrin. So glutathione has the ability, probably because it’s an electron donor, to sort of wear two hats where it can be like “hey, I’m good, the body needs me” but it can also wear a hat that says “I’m a bad pathogen so I’m gonna bind to lactoferrin much like these other bad pathogens would.” So that’s kinda the tip of the iceberg of how that process works.
Ben: Okay. This is very interesting coz I take lactoferrin, I use colostrum as a supplement.
Ben: And that helps babies to develop healthy immune systems, it’s a protein we find in colostrum and essentially it keeps the stomach lining healthy. What you’re saying is you’re taking this same lactoferrin stuff that you might find in something like colostrum, you’re combining it with glutathione, and that’s allowing the glutathione to bypass stomach degradation and then get absorbed conjugated to the lactoferrin?
Thomas: Exactly, you just nailed it. It’s almost like you and I have talked about it before and we honestly have not.
Ben: No, I do have a master’s degree in physiology, sometimes forget to say that on the show.
Ben: Well that’s really interesting. So essentially, when you take glutathione combined with lactoferrin, that increases the absorption. What about, a lot of people take glutathione in the mouth as like a liposomal delivery mechanism, would that be a way to enhance this even more?
Thomas: Yes, so that’s what we worked on. So liposomal micellar, I think we talked about this before in the other podcast.
Ben: We talked about it when it came to increasing curcumin. We geeked out a lot, so guys if you’re listening… guys and girls, go to bengreenfieldfitness.com/alcoholpodcast coz we really got into liposomal delivery hardcore and how to actually make curcumin available to your entire body using a form like that. But you’re doing the same to glutathione?
Thomas: Well, same thing as far as liposomal micellar but then we take it one step further, so the guys over at… when we talked about curcumin and how we did it with curcumin, I have this technology and I work for these guys that have this technology called receptor cell mediated endocytosis where we had this lactoferrin bind. Like “wait a minute, if we take this lactoferrin bind and we put it with liposomes and micelles, then we have something that can not only allow it to…” So, let me back up for one second. Like you said, the lactoferrin allows to bypass the stomach configuration, so basically makes it so that it can be processed without getting hindered by the crazy hostility of the stomach. That lactoferrin is critical, plus it carries it a little bit further into the small intestine where it’s not only having an effect at allowing glutathione to be potentially absorbed more, but actually killing off that bacteria in the process. So not only, it’s also acting as essential, an antibiotic for bad bacteria and a probiotic, allowing the good bacteria to proliferate. So you actually have a double whammy, lactoferrin is powerful with that. But then, putting it inside a micelle, where a micelle is actually involved in the emulsification process of fats, so it has this direct gateway through the enterocyte, through the intestinal wall, and into the bloodstream where it can get delivered directly to where it needs to go.
So it’s like the liposome gets it one step, the lactoferrin gets it another step, and then the micelle is like delivery confirmation knowing that it’s getting there. So we had a three way process which has allowed us to massively, really just take the glutathione by storm, being able to say “wait a minute, this is a way that you can actually get it absorbed.” And I’ll go on record, even as someone that has this patent and has created, I’m never gonna say it’s better than IV. That’s like saying eating sugar is better than just infusing it into your blood. You have degradation that’s going to occur naturally so if you have access to an IV every single day, great. But the nice thing about what we’ve been able to do with this is something you can take before you drink or after you drink to kinda help give you that natural process, just expedite it a little bit more.
Ben: Got it.
Thomas: You don’t wanna be taking it constantly like taking massive amounts. I’m more a fan of sustained small amounts just to make sure you’re leveled, and vary it depending on how your stress levels are and how much you’re drinking and stuff like that.
Ben: Okay, so that’s the stuff that you have over at the uhh, what’s your website, KorFactor?
Thomas: Yeah, KorFactor.
Ben: Okay, so at KorFactor, what you’ve done is the glutathione, you’ve made it this liposomal delivery then you’ve used the receptor mediated endocytosis to bind it to the lactoferrin so essentially you’re doing glutathione and lactoferrin simultaneously.
Ben: And that’s like an oral, is it an oral dispenser like you would normally see in a glutathione… a lot of people now, Bulletproof is one common example people refer to as a liposomal glutathione, this is kinda like the same look as that, like a syringe?
Thomas: Yeah, yeah, exactly. So coming in a syringe in kind of a 1 milliliter dose, everything like that. Bulletproof changed their formula a while back because they had a little bit of an issue with trying to get that liquid emulsion, so I know they changed their formula because they couldn’t nail the liquid emulsion for some reason. I don’t know what the full situation is, they couldn’t get the stability. I think what we’ve been able to harness, the technology, kinda that micellar stability is what’s kinda made us unique. It’s not easy to get a micelle to react the way you want it to. You have to have a certain process of heating that occurs to naturally put it in emulsion, and unfortunately when most people go through this heating process, their harming the molecule that they’re working with.
Thomas: We have kind of a proprietary technology but we have a catalyst that’s in there that takes the brunt of the heat so that we can actually still put it in an emulsion.
Ben: Hmm, interesting, very cool. Well, I’ll link to that in the show notes too. I know you’re hooking up everybody who’s listening in with a discount, so I’ll put that over at bengreenfieldfitness.com/alcoholpodcast. I also will hunt down that idea behind, coz I didn’t want to basically skim over this too quickly although I know that our time was limited and still was limited, but that whole glycine thing. I didn’t wanna make it sound like humans are broken but apparently the idea is that over the course of evolution or over the course of human development, our collagen requirements went up quite a bit based on the growth of the human brain and the change in our gut capacity to digest plant matter and our ability to synthesize glycine stayed the same. So essentially a glycine deficit is kind of an intrinsic part of the biology of large vertebrates, and our ancestors would have mitigated this by eating a very collagen-rich diet, eating the animal hoof to tail and that kind of thing. But we don’t get quite as much of that in our own diet, hence the enhanced need for glutathione in the face of reduced glycine availability.
I think Chris Masterjohn is the guy who had a big article about this so I’ll hunt that one down and I’ll put that in the show notes as well for those of you who want to geek out on glycine and its relationship to glutathione. But ultimately, Thomas, this is really interesting stuff, especially this whole glutathione absorption piece and the idea behind some of the mitigation strategies that allow you to get past that glutathione absorption. So I’ll put a link to all this stuff in the show notes, I’ll put a link to that FitVine Wine I drink, article I did on gluten-free beer, that Ebo Lebo digestif stuff I mentioned, the Chris Masterjohn podcast on glycine depletion, a whole bunch more over at bengreenfieldfitness.com/alcoholpodcast, and I’ll also put a discount there on a good form of glutathione that Thomas has available over there at the KorFactor website that you can grab as well if you want to have your cake and eat it too, so to speak from an alcohol consumption standpoint. Anything else you wanted to cover here, Thomas?
Thomas: No, this was awesome. It’s been a while since I’ve gotten to go this in depth with alcohol. And yeah, for those that want that KorFactor, I think we created a special link for you, its korfactor.com/bengreenfield, so super easy.
Ben: Cool. It’s K-O-R, right?
Thomas: Yeah, K-O-R-F-A-C-T-O-R, KorFactor.
Thomas: But yeah this was a… man, now I’m gonna dive in a little bit deeper and get back to you on some stuff and we can update the show notes later maybe. I’m gonna find a little bit more about sort of a genetic process with alcohol and everything I got, coz now you… I made a note to look into that coz that’d be an interesting one to dive a little bit deeper on and…
Ben: I’m glad I gave you some homework, man. My homework is to go experiment with all these amazing drinks from Everclear to Ebo Lebo to wine and gluten-free beer and beyond. I’ll kinda let you know how that goes as I take a dive down the quadruple distillation rabbit hole.
Thomas: Awesome, sounds great.
Ben: Alright man. Well folks, thanks for listening in and until next time, I’m Ben Greenfield along with Thomas Delauer of KorFactor, the inventor of some amazing glutathione, signing out from bengreenfieldfitness.com. Have an amazing week and drink healthy.
I first interviewed Thomas DeLauer in the episode The Ultimate Guide To Quelling Inflammation: Why Your Curcumin May Not Work, Surprising Effects Of Ginger Oil, Vegan Fish Oil Options & Much More!
Thomas is one of the leading experts in the world of chronic inflammation as well as the response of the human body to a low-carb diet. He is noted for his personal transformation from a 280-pound overweight corporate executive to not only being on the cover of health and fitness magazines worldwide but pioneering some of the mainstream awareness of auto-immune diseases and inflammation in general! Thomas has been highlighted in over 20 magazines showcasing his transformation and has been featured worldwide on the cover of Ironman Magazine, Muscle and Performance Magazine, Natural Muscle Magazine, ICON Magazine, Platform Magazine and Ironman Japan. His background is in Sports Psychology, although it is this passion for psychology coupled with a career in healthcare as a physician recruiter and owner of an ancillary lab services company that sparked his love for nutritional science and what makes the body tick.
He is currently working on a project in the 2nd phase of trials with Doctors at UCLA to identify a strain of bacteria that may help modulate inflammation within the body. It is partially due to his involvement in this study that he has developed such an interest in the world of cellular inflammation in the first place. Residing near Santa Barbara, California, with his wife, three dogs, two horses, and soon to be first son. Thomas promotes a lifestyle of living as close to the earth as possible to obtain the best possible results while still achieving maximum performance in every possible area of life.
During our discussion, you’ll discover:
-Ben and Thomas’s drinks of choice (and why Thomas drinks Everclear)… 6:28
-The surprising truth about how alcohol is actually metabolized… 9:46
-If certain people are more predisposed to alcoholism or diminished alcohol metabolism… 13:17
-Whether you should eat foods with alcohol to avoid weight gain… 19:54
-The best kind of drinks to avoid lipid peroxidation and keep the body more healthy during drinking… 23:00
-Whether alcohol diminishes your ability to maintain ketosis… 40:51
-If there are certain alcohols that aren’t as labor intensive on the body… 42:22
-How to choose an alcohol that is truly gluten-free… 48:43
-The best time of day to have a glass of wine… 54:06
-The extreme importance of glutathione production and how it coincides with alcohol… 1:03:54
-And much more!
we can spend some time talking about the lactoferrin bond in our KorFactor Glutathione and how it chelates excess iron so that Glutathione can actually be absorbed. “But you’ll be glad to hear our patented NanoKOR™ delivery method wraps the Glutathione in a series of protective layers and binds it with lactoferrin”
Resources from this episode:
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