Sulphur. Enzymes. Liver. And the science behind the advice not to mix alcohol and durians.
Ah durians! I like them, and think they are absolutely heavenly. But my parents tell me that I should not have them with alcohol, and I have always wondered if that was just an old wives’ tale or if there was more science behind it.
After all, the Smithsonian Magazine considers durians a scientific marvel. They have such a complex palette of flavors and smells, that both the “King of fruits” and the “world’s smelliest fruit” have been used by different cultures to describe them (read about how durians are pushing scientific discovery in the 1-Minute NomNom “The smells arose durian the reign of the King“).
It turns out science may indeed be behind why families and friends may have told each other not to drink alcohol and eat durians at the same time.
Japanese scientists at the University of Tsukuba have found that the high sulphur content of durians may hinder the activities of the enzyme aldehyde dehydrogenase (ALDH) in our livers. In their laboratory, they found that the sulphur content was so high that it “nearly knocked out the ALDH enzyme, inhibiting it by up to 70 percent.”
The ALDH enzyme “functions as the liver’s main weapon against the toxic byproducts of alcohol metabolism”. Our livers filter the blood passing through from the digestive tract, detoxifying it of toxic chemicals before the blood is passed into the rest of the body. When our livers cannot do that with alcohol, our bodies can become intoxicated.
So enjoy all the durians you want, but do be mindful that there might be some scientific truth to the age-old advice!
It is safe to drink and like me to discover more. All you need is a minute a day to explore the world’s marvels through the phenomenon of food!
photos: in order – depositphotos/Valentyn_Volkov; antpkr; antpkr; maya2008