June 28, 2019
As we kick off “Dry July”, it only seems fitting to explore how alcohol affects our gut health.
As we know, our gut is home to trillions of microbes that are key to our health. These microbes do everything from assisting us digest our food to enhancing our immune system. When these microbes are out of balance, it can lead to a range of health issues.
Stick with us, we’re going to get to science stuff, real quick! (It’s important!).
Alcohol induces a process initiated in the gut that promotes inflammation throughout the body (Patel et al. 2015). As stated by 7 Medical Doctors in an article released by The Journal of the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse & Alcoholism, the gastrointestinal (GI) tract, is the first line of contact with anything ingested into the body, putting it at particular risk for damage by toxins. And mounting research suggests that poor gut health plays a significant role in the body’s overall health. Connecting the dots, anything that may cause damage to your gut health, may have consequences far beyond the intestines.
So what kind of damage are we talking about?
- Alcohol stops you from digesting your food properly – that’s a pretty big problem! It actually decreases the secretion of digestive enzymes from your pancreas, and if you’ve done our program you know just how important digestive enzymes are in the breakdown the food we eat to turn them into the stuff our body can use to repair itself and be healthy.
- Your liver hates it. Your liver is a robust organ and can usually cope with drinking a small amount of alcohol. However it can only handle a certain amount of alcohol at any given time (no more than 4 standard drinks). So if you drink too quickly, or too much, your liver cells struggle to process it. In fact regular, moderate consumption of alcohol can cause permanent scarring to your liver. That doesn’t sound good.
- It throws your gut flora completely out of whack. Alcohol can cause an overgrowth of potentially harmful bacteria and a reduction in beneficial bacteria. This may cause inflammation of the gut and intestinal permeability, allowing toxins to enter the blood stream and exacerbating the effects.
So what’s the takeaway? Alcohol, while it can seem harmless if you’re only sporadically consuming it, can have a major impact on the gut. While alcohol certainly isn’t “all bad”, it’s essential, as with all other things, to assess how it’s impacting your body and whether it’s good or beneficial for you.
Dr Paul Vandewalle, Principal Scientific Consultant at Clasado says: “Maintaining a healthy balance of gut bacteria is one way of helping to prevent the inflammation that is caused by alcohol. There are different ways to ensure a healthy balance of gut bacteria, including a nutritious diet with plenty of fibre and taking supplements like prebiotics to encourage the growth of healthy gut bacteria”.
Love your guts xx