In the UK we are not known to shy away from drinking alcohol. In fact, around half of British adults admit to drinking at least once a week.

While it may be something many people enjoy, the consequences the next day can be brutal. But now scientists believe they have discovered a solution – a gel that could banish hangovers for good.

Researchers at ETH Zurich in Switzerland, have successfully developed a protein gel that breaks down alcohol in the gastrointestinal tract.

In a study, recently published in the journal Nature Nanotechnology, it was revealed that in mice the gel converts alcohol quickly, efficiently and directly into harmless acetic acid before it enters the bloodstream.

It is in the blood where it usually develops its intoxicating and harmful effects. As reported by Science Daily, Professor Raffaele Mezzenga from the university, explained: “The gel shifts the breakdown of alcohol from the liver to the digestive tract.

“In contrast to when alcohol is metabolised in the liver, no harmful acetaldehyde is produced as an intermediate product.”

Acetaldehyde is toxic and is responsible for many health problems caused by excessive alcohol consumption. The team says that in the future, the gel could be taken orally before or during alcohol consumption to prevent blood alcohol levels from rising and acetaldehyde from damaging the body.

This makes it different from other existing products that claim to combat just the symptoms of excessive drinking – as the gel also tackles the cause.

However, the gel is only effective as long as there is still alcohol in the gastrointestinal tract. This means it can do very little to help with alcohol poisoning, once the alcohol has crossed into the bloodstream.

Overall, it is still best not to drink alcohol, the scientists said. “It’s healthier not to drink alcohol at all,” Prof Mezzenga added.

“However, the gel could be of particular interest to people who don’t want to give up alcohol completely, but don’t want to put a strain on their bodies and aren’t actively seeking the effects of alcohol.”

According to the World Health Organisation, around three million people die every year from excessive alcohol consumption.

The NHS recommends that you drink no more than 14 units of alcohol a week, spread across three days or more. That’s around six medium glasses of wine, or six pints of beer.

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