Raquel Barr Nutrition

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  • Raquel Barr

5 Things You Never Knew About Acetaldehyde

What the heck is acetaldehyde? I promise you, this won't be a boring chemistry lesson - a class I barely passed in high school..


Acetaldehyde is an organic chemical compound that is created within our bodies, most often associated with hangover symptoms after a night of drinking. Brain fog, nausea, irritated guts, fever, etc. are all symptoms of acetaldehyde excess in our bodies. This excess negatively effects the body's metabolic, endocrine, neurological and immune systems.


1. Acetaldehyde is a toxic compound produced by the liver during ethanol breakdown that is more toxic than the alcohol itself! But the human body is incredibly intelligent, with a series of enzymatic reactions (involving glutathione and acetaldehyde dehydrogenase) we can neutralize acetaldehyde. Sadly, our enzyme stores are quickly depleted when the toxic insults to our bodies continue to occur.


2. Acetaldehyde is a possible cancer-causing (carcinogenic) compound that may increase the risk of cancer cell growth in living tissues. Sources of acetaldehyde include polluted air, toxic chemicals, synthetic fragrances, and even food products!


3. Acetaldehyde can damage your liver over time through the same mechanism as alcoholism. As the liver becomes more and more depleted, effects of hangovers can last longer as the liver struggles to re-balance itself. Some blame aging and their metabolism for the increase in hangover recovery time, yet this could be a sign that the liver is in need of urgent support and changes may be required in daily life.


4. One interesting symptom of acetaldehyde excess is a sensitivity to fragrances. Often people will have complaints of smells causing headaches or making them feel sick. This can be a sign of an overburdened liver unable to process the external source of acetaldehyde that is common in many scented products.


5. Acetaldehyde is released both during growth and die-off phases of Candida. In this case acetaldehyde is produced as a toxic by product of candida via a complex chemical process involving ethanol and oxygen. It can cause bloating, abdominal pain, gas along with brain fog symptoms. You may not have a sip of alcohol and acetaldehyde excess can still occur.


The liver desperately needs our support in this world of toxins and chemical food-like products. Eating a clean diet of whole foods, limited processed products and drinking plenty of water is a good place to start. Avoiding excess alcohol consumption and dealing with gut bacteria imbalance will also be crucial in supporting your body in achieving balance.


For those of you who feel this may be an issue, there are answers out there!

Dr. Josh Axe has an incredibly detailed article on the benefits of glutathione (remember, its the antioxidant that helps neutralize the effects of acetaldehyde!) as well the benefits of Milk Thistle for the liver.

Lisa Richards is a Certified Nutritional Consultant who recommends Pantethine as a supplement to help support the breakdown of acetaldehyde in relation to candida overgrowth. Pantethine is a metabolically active form of vitamin B5 which also helps support the adrenals and the immune system (which are also incredible taxed during a candida overgrowth!).


If these symptoms strike a chord, I encourage you to seek out health practitioners who are willing to listen and support you through the changes required to return to optimal health. These issues related to lifestyle can often be remedied through changes to - you guessed it!- your lifestyle. You have the power to change your health for the long term. Cheers to that!


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