Alcohol – The Negative Impact On Your Gut Microbiome
Major Gut Sensitivity Problems – Alcohol Could Be The Culprit
You’re most likely already aware that alcohol might not be your gut’s best friend. But could alcohol actually be at the root of your health problems or digestive symptoms.
Alcohol Negatively Affects the Gut Microbiome
Did you know that the human gut contains more than 100 trillion bacteria, and this bacterial population is collectively referred to as the microbiome. Your overall health and wellbeing, as well as your resistance to disease is all massively influenced by the balance of your gut. An imbalance in this delicate biological system can lead to detrimental health.
Symptoms Associated With Poor Gut Health
Many people are unaware that a poor gut environment can actually result in symptoms spanning seemingly unconnected yet are all seated in the gut:
- Immunity, reduced or autoimmunity
- Nervous system
- Increased risk for diabetes and metabolic syndrome
- Increased risk for cancer
- Cardiovascular system
- Thyroid and metabolism
- Liver and detox outlets
- Joints and tendons
- Digestion and elimination (risk for intestinal conditions and infections)
- Stress hormones and adrenal gland problems
Your microbiome is impacted daily by countless diet and lifestyle choices, resulting in positive and negative influence on your gut health. All too often, we generally only give consideration to the gut (our second brain) when we’re facing dramatic or life-altering symptoms.
Most of us are aware that the gut is host to literally hundreds of different varieties of bacteria, where some of them produce good outcomes and some bad outcomes for the human body as a whole. Over population of bad bacteria has a major influential role in system symptoms, and chronic conditions.
The term dysbiosis refers to the scenario when bad bacteria outnumbers the good bacteria in your gut. Essentially it is our daily goal to help good bacteria to flourish and outweigh that of the bad bacteria in our system.
The Good, The Bad and The Ugly – When Alcohol Is In Town
It’s no secret that Alcohol is addictive, highly toxic and can have harmful physical and mental effects when consumed in large amounts.
Drinking alcohol, even in a single episode, can cause damage to the gut wall, simultaneously having a profoundly negative influence on what kind, and how many bacteria live there. Not only that, but drinking alcohol can also lead to malabsorption of essential minerals and vitamins.
Research studies have clearly shown that analysis on the gut composition of people who drink little/infrequent alcohol compared to those who regularly drink alcohol varies wildly. Inflammation within the gut, systemic inflammation, immune system dysfunction and leaky gut are all common ailments associated with drinking alcohol and degenerating gut health.
One study examined the gut flora of 41 alcoholics and compared them to 10 healthy individuals who consumed little-to-no alcohol. Dysbiosis was present in 27% of the alcoholic population, but it was not present in any of the healthy individuals
Researchers are becoming alerted to the strong relationship between the gut and the brain. People who regularly consume alcohol, are prone to dependence on the drug, with a noticeable alteration in the bacteria of the microbiome which powerfully impacts the gut-brain relationship. Those people who may not be dependent on alcohol, but consume regular, are certainly exposing their body to the very real possibility of leaky gut, chronic inflammation and associated inflammatory diseases, autoimmune disorders and damaged central nervous system due to how the gut-brain relationship works.
Increased endotoxins in the blood, again associated with bad bacteria disrupting the gut microbiome, are apparent in a single episode of drinking alcohol (just five or more drinks for men, or four or more drinks for women in the space of two hours). Outside of the gut, binge drinking alcohol is known to lead to liver problems, autoimmunity, and other chronic conditions.
Alcohol dependence and alcoholic liver disease represent a major public health problem with substantial morbidity and mortality.
The excessive use of alcohol is a global problem causing many adverse pathological health effects and a significant financial health care burden.
Out Of Sight Out Of Mind – A Silent Killer
The human organism is under constant assault every day from unseen forces. Pollution, radiation, microwaves, wifi, bacteria … some of the most harmful and disruptive influences on your health come from things you cannot see, and they’re impacting your wellbeing every minute of every day.
When you consume alcohol, you might not give a second thought to the impact and damage it is causing to your body because you do not actively perceive it as a visible threat. You might not have even made the connection that your regular, or even sporadic alcohol consumption, is possible a culprit in an illness or symptom you’re experiencing – and so much of that is influenced by the negative impact this silent assailant is having on your microbiome.
It’s true that your genetics play a role in how sensitive you are to the effects of alcohol. Other factors such as lifestyle and existing health conditions (such as those already impacted by gut, autoimmune of other chronic illnesses) all play a role in susceptibility to alcohol ravaging effects on your health. Those with existing health concerns, should heed the warnings surrounding alcohol even more than those who appear to be systemically healthy.
Are You Sensitive To Alcohol?
As already stated, nobody is safe from the negative influence alcohol has over our microbiome, although there are populations of people who should be extra cautious when it comes to consuming alcohol.
If you’re not sure whether you could be sensitive or susceptible to alcohol-related gut problems, consider the following signs, symptoms, and conditions:
- You have an existing autoimmune disease, disorder, or other chronic health problem (including thyroid, adrenal, intestinal, digestive, or metabolic).
- You frequently experience constipation and/or diarrhea.
- You have acid reflux, ulcers, or other stomach acid problems.
- You have a known case of SIBO, dysbiosis, leaky gut, or Celiac disease.
- You have liver problems.
- You have skin problems, like eczema, psoriasis, acne, or rashes.
- You flush easily, especially during or after consuming alcohol.
- You have hormone problems.
- You struggle to lose weight and/or gain weight easily.
- You have lots of food allergies, seasonal allergies, or histamine issues.
Listen To Your Gut!
Generally speaking, if you use your intuition, or you believe you might be more sensitive to alcohol based on the above list of warning factors then chances are you’d be better off avoiding alcohol entirely. At a minimum you should certainly consider limiting your consumption! Your health, rooted in your gut microbiome, will forever than you for it.
Benefits of Limiting or Elimination Alcohol Are Numerous
By limiting or eliminating alcohol from your diet and lifestyle, you’ll immediately notice an improvement to the following areas of your health & wellbeing:
1. Improved Hormone Balance
Many people have experienced first hand how alcohol appears to make you puffy and retain water. Not many people realise this is because alcohol is oestrogenic and not only negatively impacting the gut landscape, it negatively impacts natural hormone levels. Excessive alcohol consumption primarily affects reproductive hormones and thyroid hormones; typically elevating oestrogen and can complicate oestrogen dominance problems such as PCOS and progesterone deficiency.
It’s a very real threat to fertility, impacting progesterone (the pregnancy hormone) and oestrogen balance in the body. Progesterone plays a vital role in healthy ovulation and the second phase of the menstrual cycle – the luteal phase (where conception occurs). And of course, everybody is consciously aware of the dangers of drinking alcohol while pregnant or breast feeding.
In regards men, fertility is also impacted negatively, with even moderate alcohol consumption reducing testosterone levels, while simultaneously increasing the female sex hormone ‘oestrogen’ leading to a slew of hormone-related issues.
2. Systemic Inflammation
We know know from extensive research that whenever there is an alteration in the balance of gut flora in favour of bad bacteria, there is a direct correlation to increase in inflammation across the body. Alcohol consumption leads to an increase in inflammatory markers such as c-reactive protein, an indicator physicians rely on for cardiovascular risk (heart disease).
It is known that chronic alcohol abuse is associated with increased intestinal permeability and alterations of the gut microbiota composition, allowing bacterial components, bacteria, and metabolites to reach the portal and the systemic circulation. These gut-derived bacterial products are recognised by immune cells circulating in the blood or residing in remote organs such as the liver leading to the release of pro-inflammatory cytokines which are considered important mediators of the liver-gut-brain communication. Although circulating cytokines are likely not the sole factors involved, they can induce liver inflammation/damage and reach the central nervous system where they favour neuro-inflammation which is associated with change in mood, cognition, and drinking behaviour.
By improving the landscape of your microbiome, you can reduce inflammation remarkably well. Cutting alcohol, increasing gut friendly foods such as fermented kombucha tea, fermented vegetables, collagen, bone broth and leafy green vegetables go a long way to reducing heart disease and decreasing inflammation.
3. Boosting Immunity
Boost your natural immunity and bolster your systemic defences by building up your good gut bacteria, and preventing bad bacteria from ruling your gut. Conversely, consuming alcohol can blunt your immune system, allowing viral invaders easy access to your compromised immunity increasing the risk of infections and illnesses – all simply down to the imbalance of bad bacteria : good bacteria due to alcohols deleterious effects.
For those people who already suffer from autoimmune disorders, chronic disorders and depressed immune systems, an imbalance in gut bacteria will simple lead to worsening effects and complications of the condition over time.
4. Fewer Chronic Gut Problems
Ever heard of SIBO – Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth? This is a condition that gives rise to unpleasant bloating, abdominal pain, diarrhoea and so on caused by a bacterial imbalance that can literally take years to undo. No surprises here – alcohol intake has a major correlation with SIBO!
Most people are aware of alcohol’s ability to irritate the gut and cause diarrhoea or constipation, or even both… even cramping, urgency to run to the bathroom and foul smelling gas. Add SIBO to the mix, and you’re in for a rough time.
5. Fewer Cravings
Bad bacteria and the interconnectedness of the gut to the brain exasperates the mental and physical cravings for more alcohol after consumption. It’s similar to sugar cravings, which are also closely associated with alcohol intake. Eliminating alcohol can help normalize and balance the intestinal bacteria, positively influencing the chemical signalling sent to the brain, and lessening cravings. The cleaner the inputs into the body, the cleaner the output messages to the brain – which feedback in a loop.
Most people are well aware of how alcohol impacts blood sugar levels, often leading to hypoglycaemia or hyperglycaemia. The brain and body struggle to find a natural balance for insulin and blood sugar levels in an alcohol induced state, amplifying the glucose-driven cravings we’ve probably all experienced at one time or another.
Simply put, cutting out the alcohol means more stability across your entire body and brain leading to reduced cravings.
6. Improved Detox and Liver Function
Commonly known, alcohol ravages your liver. Less commonly known is that you don’t have to be an alcoholic or a lifelong alcohol consumer to realise actual liver damage from consumption. The negative impact of alcohol on the balance of bacteria in the gut actually allows liver damaging strains of bacteria to literally thrive and wreak havoc to this organ in the body.
A liver which is damaged, or chronically inflamed leads to ongoing and perpetual health problems since toxins that are not efficiently removed by this cleansing organ remain in circulation throughout the body in the bloodstream and increase the potential for a cascading effect of chronic conditions – including cancer. Reducing the strain on the liver, by limited alcohol or eliminating alcohol, leaves the liver in a better state to efficiently do the job it’s designed for – collecting and removing toxins from the body.
One Possible Exception … Quality Red Wine
One interesting study to note actually compared the effects of three different types of alcohol on gut health.
For 20 days, each individual consumed 9.2 ounces (272 ml) of red wine, the same amount of de-alcoholised red wine or 3.4 ounces (100 ml) of gin each day.
Gin decreased the number of beneficial gut bacteria, whereas red wine actually increased the abundance of bacteria known to promote gut health and decreased the number of harmful gut bacteria like Clostridium.
The beneficial effect of moderate red wine consumption on gut bacteria appears to be due to its polyphenol content.
Polyphenols are plant compounds that escape digestion and are broken down by gut bacteria. They may also help reduce blood pressure and improve cholesterol.
In Conculsion – The Takeaway Message
Alcohol can take its toll on the entire body. Sensitive individuals can benefit from strict moderation and even avoidance of alcohol, as well as living a gut-friendly lifestyle, to ensure that their microbiome is stocked with more good bacteria than bad.
KOMBUCHA – THE PERFECT ALCOHOL ALTERNATIVE
Kombucha is a delicious non-alcoholic drink (alcohol alternative) for anyone looking for a sophisticated alternative to beer, lager, cider or wine. OMBucha® Kombucha is made using only three ingredients: high-end loose leaf tea, sugar, and a specially grown kombucha culture, giving the drink a range of complex and distinct flavours that are rare among non-alcoholic drinks.
“Traditional tried-and-true Kombucha – straight-up, as-it-comes.
Deep amber, apple cider notes delivering a tart, bubbly brew.
Sweet and sour.
The perfect pick-me-up.“
OMBucha® is an allergy conscious, gut healthy, delicious, naturally bubbly, fermented non-alcoholic vitality drink to nourish your body, mind and gut.
- Natural Fermented Gut Healthy Drink
- Raw Living Food, No Preservatives
- No Artificial Colours Or Flavours
- Non-pasteurised, Raw And Vegan
- Low Sugar, Fluoride Free, Gluten Free
Each ingredient is meticulously prepared with love to enrich your spirit from the very first serving. Crack open one of our gorgeous, UV-shielded bottles and quench your thirst for goodness with the Elixir of Life’s healing properties, content in the knowledge that with each sip you’re nourishing the mind, body and soul.
OMBucha®’s Kombucha Tea is handmade each step of the way with painstaking attention to detail, ensuring each concoction of this miracle formula is delivered with unconditional love.