How Alcohol Affects Gut Bacteria
Blame it on the "one more beer" you didn’t really need. Blame it on another weekend of festivities. Blame it on the fact you skipped dinner and headed straight for a happy hour. Blame it on the fact you’ve been stressed out at work and drank a little more than you should.
Whatever the reason was, most of us who like to indulge in a little holiday cheer, have at one time or another, felt the head-pounding, stomach-churning, cotton-mouthed effects of a hangover.
Traditionally, when we talk about hangovers, we focus on dehydration and the toll that alcohol takes on your liver as you try to detoxify from the night before. What's often overlooked though, is alcohol’s effect on your gut bacteria.
How Does Alcohol Affect Our Gut Health?
Many studies have looked at the chronic consumption of alcohol and the impact that has on our gut. Those who over consume alcohol on a regular basis have higher rates of alcohol-induced oxidative stress and intestinal dysbiosis which leads to gastrointestinal tract inflammation and intestinal hyperpermeability (aka leaky gut syndrome).1
But what about those that may only drink a little too much when we head out for a night on the town? What kind of impact does that kind of drinking have on gut microbes?
You may not consider yourself a ‘binge’ drinker, but by definition, anyone who consumes more than four drinks per event falls into this category. It’s the most common form of drinking worldwide.2
One study aimed to investigate the effects that this type of drinking had on the gut bacteria of healthy individuals. What they found was that that binge drinking resulted in a rapid increase in serum endotoxins (i.e. bacteria toxins located in the cell), showing that bacteria were moving from the gut into our system. This was also underscored by elevated markers of inflammation, meaning that one night of heavier drinking is enough to rile up our immune response.2
Prep Your Immune System to Alcohol Consumption
If you want to drink alcohol, first and foremost we advocate moderation and responsible drinking.
Understanding that drinking can impact our gut microbiome, and ultimately our immune system, protecting your gut bacteria and boosting your immune system is a good way to help protect you from the negative effects of alcohol.
- Probiotics: taking a daily dose of a high-quality probiotic such as Bio-K+ is a great way to maintain your digestive health and promote a diverse gut microflora, which can help bring you back into balance after a night of drinking. As a bonus, healthy gut bacteria also produce certain B-vitamins which quickly become depleted when we drink alcohol.
- Vitamin C: vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant, helps support our immune system, and has liver protective effects. Drinking depletes our vitamin C stores, so it’s best to consume this nutrient before and after drinking.
- Fiber: alcohol is readily absorbed throughout the entire digestive tract. The amount of food we have in our system determines the rate at which that happens. To slow the absorption of alcohol into your system never drink on an empty stomach, but rather fill your plate with slow digesting carbs like veggies, sweet potatoes, brown rice, sourdough bread, as well as lean protein and healthy fats. Gut bacteria love fiber, so not only will you lessen the effects of alcohol, you’ll keep your good gut bacteria healthy and fueled.
If you have additional questions on gut health, let us know in the comments below! For more healthy inspirations, join our community. To stock up on Bio-K+ find a store near you. Contact us or find us on Facebook and Instagram.