BACKGROUND: The effect of commonly ingested alcoholic beverages on gastric acid output and release of gastrin in humans is unknown. AIM AND METHODS: In 16 healthy humans the effect of some commonly ingested alcoholic beverages produced by fermentation plus distillation (for example, whisky, cognac, calvados, armagnac, and rum) or by alcoholic fermentation (beer, wine, champagne, martini, and sherry) on gastric acid output and release of gastrin was studied. Gastric acid output was determined by the method of intragastric titration. Plasma gastrin was measured using a specific radioimmunoassay. RESULTS: None of the alcoholic beverages produced by fermentation plus distillation had any significant effect on gastric acid output and release of gastrin compared with control (isotonic glucose and distilled water). Alcoholic beverages produced only by fermentation significantly (p < 0.05) increased the gastric acid output by 57% to 95% of maximal acid output (MAO) and release of gastrin up to 5.1-fold compared with control. If beer, wine, and sherry were distilled, only their remaining parts increased gastric acid output by 53% to 76% of MAO and increased release of gastrin up to 4.3-fold compared with control. CONCLUSIONS: (1) Alcoholic beverages produced by fermentation but not by distillation are powerful stimulants of gastric acid output and release of gastrin; (2) the alcoholic beverage constituents that stimulate gastric acid output and release of gastrin are most probably produced during the process of fermentation and removed during the following process of distillation.
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