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Difference Between Alcohol and Lactic Acid Fermentation

Alcohol vs Lactic Acid Fermentation

Fermentation is just one of the two ways in which the body can utilize energy from the food being eaten. No matter what type of fermentation they all begin with the same exact primary step of glycolysis ‘“ splitting glucose to become pyruvic acid. As a result, ATP (adenosine triphosphate) commonly known as the biologic energy needed by the body to survive is produced.

In the actual fermentation process, the pyruvic acid will eventually transform into waste material leaving only about 2 ATP molecules per pyruvic molecule. But since there are two pyruvic acid molecules involved then four ATPs are made in an ordinary glycolysis. The two most talked about classes of fermentation are alcohol and lactic acid fermentation.

Lactic acid fermentation is a very common process among bacteria. That’s why the bacteria present in yogurt (Lactobacillus acidophilus) make use of such. Its end product (lactic acid) gives yogurt its familiarly odd yogurt-like taste. The human muscle is also one of the most common areas where this type of fermentation takes place.

Under normal circumstances, the muscle cells make use of oxygen to carry out normal cellular respiration. But in the event where there is absence or lack of such (typically occurring during extreme physical exertions), then it will undergo lactic acid fermentation. Basically, the pyruvic acid becomes lactic acid in this type of fermentation. This lactic acid will be responsible for making the muscle sore and a bit stiff especially the day after engaging in a strenuous physical activity. The muscle fibers don’t have the mechanism to get rid of this acid, that’s why they have to wait for the acid to gradually be washed away via the blood stream and into the liver (the only organ capable of eliminating lactic acid from the system).

Alcohol fermentation is a different story. This type of fermentation is usually seen in yeast and other bacterial forms. Unlike lactic acid fermentation wherein the end product is lactic acid, the ‘waste’ material in an alcohol respiration is ethanol (an alcohol) and CO2 (carbon dioxide). Human beings have already perfected the use of this process for commercial purposes like in the production of beer, wine and bread. In bread making, the CO2 is the ones stuck between the wheat protein (gluten) enabling the bread to grow or ‘rise.’ The ethanol is responsible for giving bread its mysterious smell. In alcoholic drinks, the CO2 is responsible for the bubbly appearance of the liquid.

1. Lactic acid fermentation has lactic acid as the end product while in alcohol fermentation the end result is ethanol and CO2.

2. Lactic acid fermentation involves the human muscles as well as bacteria found in yogurt. Alcohol fermentation involves yeasts and other bacterial forms.


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