Nov 28 2021

Be aware of alcohol and its effects on the gut

Be aware of alcohol and its effects on the gut.

As the holidays are approaching, safeguard your microbiome by not overindulging.

It’s fall! The weather is getting colder, family gatherings are being planned and holiday party invites are going out. For many, this socializing means social drinking, and unfortunately, too much alcohol can take a toll on the microbiome. If over-imbibing can be an issue due to too many social engagements or added holiday stress, consider a few factors in order to keep your body healthy and your immune system at its best.*

What does consuming alcohol do to your gut?

When we drink alcohol, just as when we eat food, its pathway is through the mouth, into the stomach, and then the intestines. Therefore, it is these areas of the body that are greatly impacted when we overindulge. When you drink too much alcohol, your body might react by experiencing digestive issues, such as diarrhea, stomach aches, and inflammation of the GI tract.

The GI tract is designed to be naturally permeable so that nutrients and minerals can pass through the intestinal lining and into the bloodstream but it also acts as a protective barrier to keep toxins out of your blood. When we drink too much alcohol, it can damage the cells that line the intestinal walls, thus weakening that delicate barrier. This condition, known as leaky gut syndrome allows toxins, bacteria, and even food particles to exit the GI tract and enter the bloodstream. A leaky gut can increase inflammation and has been linked to multiple health conditions, such as diabetes, arthritis, allergies, and even mental health problems. 1*

In addition to increased gut permeability, heavy drinking can throw your gut microbiome off balance, resulting in an overgrowth of bad bacteria. A healthy gut is comprised of billions of bacteria, approximately 80% good and 20% bad. When we drink too much alcohol, it can shift this equilibrium towards the bad, tipping the scales to create a cycle that can be hard to break as the bad bacteria multiply, creating cravings for more unhealthy foods that feed these unfriendly critters. An imbalanced gut may lead to:

  • constipation, diarrhea, and bloating
  • fatigue and low energy
  • weight fluctuations
  • food intolerances and food allergies
  • problematic skin conditions
  • mood swings1*

Many times cocktails include sugary mixers and the combination of sugar and alcohol does a double whammy on your gut. As the alcohol damages the gut lining and the sugar feeds the unhealthy bacteria, we are creating a dangerous environment for bacterial overgrowth..2*

Now, not all alcohol is bad and moderation is important. In our blog covering the benefits of antioxidants, we discussed polyphenols, which are micronutrients that act as antioxidants and can be found in red wine. In small amounts — a glass per day — can help increase the good bacteria and actually help to reduce inflammation. Keep in mind, you can find polyphenols in many types of fruit…not just red wine. 3*

If you are struggling with gastrointestinal issues whether it be an overabundance of bad bacteria, inflammation, or leaky gut, cutting back or eliminating alcohol from your diet while you heal may be part of the solution along with improving diet, increasing your probiotic intake, and focusing on good sleep and daily exercise. If you over imbibe, it’s always good to take extra Body Biotics™ Bio-Identical Probiotics Consortia™ for a few days to help reinforce your friendly bacteria and boost your immune system.1*

It’s important to note that there is a difference between overindulging on occasion and having a true alcohol problem. According to the Addiction Center, the definition of heavy drinking is “…consuming 8 drinks or more per week for women and 15 or more for men…”. This excessive, chronic drinking can lead to dangerous health issues such as ulcers, bleeding ulcers, and liver damage. The liver acts as a filter for the blood and it is also where we manufacture proteins, enzymes, and hormones the body uses to ward off infections. It also converts vitamins, nutrients, and medicines into substances our bodies can use. When we drink, the liver “…processes over 90% of consumed alcohol. The rest exits the body via urine, sweat, and breathing…” In cases of chronic alcohol abuse, the liver can’t keep up resulting in destruction to liver cells, which can lead to cirrhosis of the liver, alcoholic hepatitis, and liver cancer.4*

 

**Please note: if you feel you have a problem with controlling your alcohol intake, professional intervention may be necessary along with regular support groups. Alcoholism is a disease that should be taken seriously because it can damage lives…your own and those you love.4*

So, as the holiday season approaches, keep things in check. Have fun, but do it safely for your health and those around you. Consider a “mocktail” instead of the real thing, and never drink and drive. What you do now, will determine how healthy you start the New Year. Let’s start it in good health, good standing, and in good moods, with a healthy gut and a strong immune system!*

Healthiest wishes,

Kelli

www.bodybiotics.com

Resources:

  1. https://riahealth.com/2021/03/09/alcohol-and-gut-health/
  2. https://www.myguthealthtoday.com/sugary-alcoholic-drinks-bad-hangovers/
  3. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2903024/
  4. https://www.addictioncenter.com/alcohol/liver/

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