There are a few people who drink alcohol without having problems with their health, while there are those who trigger an allergic reaction even after the smallest sip. It’s well-established, however, that alcohol consumption is linked to cancer, liver disease and heart attacks, as these are well-known consequences to drinking too much alcohol.
But there is this other cause-and-effect relationship that has to be talked about more, and that’s the correlation between drinking alcohol and leaky gut.
Alcohol consumption impacts the body in more ways than one, besides it being a risk factor for developing various diseases. Alcohol consumption leads to an increase in oxidative stress, and this in turn promotes leaky gut syndrome.
6 Signs Alcohol Might Be Impacting Your Gut Health
Drinking alcohol in moderation, particularly red wine and whisky, is thought to be helpful for the heart. Moderate amounts will help reduce the risk of kidney stones, Alzheimer’s disease and dementia.
But what about people with leaky gut syndrome and alcohol intolerance? Can it be a trigger or speed up the progression of disease? Drinking alcohol in excess has been shown to have adverse effects on the digestive system and intestines in general. There are numerous reasons alcohol can lead to a leaky gut which we will explore here.
- Loss of appetite. Alcohol can cause your stomach to produce excess acid that can lead to ulcers and inflammation of the stomach lining, which can make it difficult for your body to absorb nutrients from food. This can result in loss of appetite or an inability to keep down food.
- Feeling weak. If you are experiencing a slow metabolism, cold hands and feet, or irregular bowel movements, you may have an issue with leaky gut. Alcohol can cause your blood sugar to spike, and this in turn causes a depletion of vital nutrients that are necessary for proper immune function. If you’re not getting enough nutrients, your body will start to break down and become weak.
- Feeling bloated. Alcohol is a diuretic, which means it increases the amount of urine you produce. This can cause your body to lose water and sodium. As the water and sodium leave the body, so does liquid from your cells, including those in your digestive tract. This can lead to bloating and flatulence.
- Experiencing constipation. Alcohol can disrupt the microbiome of your intestines, making it difficult to digest food. This in turn causes constipation.
- Experiencing inflammation in your body. Inflammation is one of the main signs of leaky gut and can occur anywhere in the body, including the skin and joints. When you have leaky gut, toxins and bacteria escape from your intestines into bloodstream and trigger an inflammatory response throughout your body. Inflammation can make you feel tired, cause headaches or joint pain, affect your moods, and much more.
- Getting sick often (weakened immune system). Our gut is part of the first line of defense of body’s immune system. When alcohol impacts your gut health and causes leaky gut syndrome, this allows nutrients to leak out of the intestines into the bloodstream, which makes you feel weak and tired, and very much prone to illness.
It also makes it harder for the body to absorb vitamins and minerals from food, which leads to nutrient deficiencies and poor energy levels.
Alcohol and Leaky Gut – 6 Ways Alcohol Can Harm Your Gut
Does alcohol cause leaky gut? The relationship between leaky gut and alcohol sees both benefits and risks. The key is always to consume alcohol in moderation. Alcohol abuse damages the intestines in the same way that physical trauma or bariatric surgery does: by disrupting the delicate bacterial balance in your gut.
With the wrong amount in consumption, here are 6 ways alcohol further harms your gut:
#1 – Damage to the Liver (Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease)
The liver is an important organ in the body. It serves as a metabolic processing plant, and it also helps to remove toxins from your body.
When you drink alcohol, you put stress on your liver and can cause damage to it. This damage can lead to alcoholic fatty liver disease (steatosis), which can cause inflammation of the liver (hepatitis).
#2 – Acid Reflux (Heartburn)
It happens when stomach acid backs up into your esophagus, which is the tube that connects your mouth to your stomach. When you drink a lot of alcohol, it can irritate the lining of your esophagus.
This can cause heartburn, which feels like a burning sensation in the center of your chest. You may also feel pain or discomfort when you swallow food or drink water.
#3 – Pancreatitis (Pancreas Damage)
Pancreatitis is an inflammation of the pancreas, which is located behind the stomach. The pancreas produces digestive enzymes and hormones that help your body digest food and absorb nutrients from food into your blood stream.
When the pancreas becomes inflamed from alcohol use, it can no longer function properly and produce these important digestive enzymes and hormones correctly—leading to a wide range of unpleasant symptoms including nausea and vomiting, abdominal pain, fever and jaundice (yellowing of skin).
#4 – Bloating and Candida
Bloating can occur when you drink too much alcohol, and it’s not just about how much you’ve consumed—it’s also about your individual body chemistry. The more sensitive you are to this kind of reaction, the more likely it is that you’ll feel bloated after drinking even a small amount of alcohol.
Candida is a yeast infection caused by a fungus called Candida albicans, which lives in your body naturally. When there’s an imbalance in the good bacteria in your gut—which can be caused by consuming too much sugar or refined carbohydrates—it can cause an overgrowth of candida. This leads to symptoms like digestive problems, fatigue and sinusitis.
#5 – Gastritis, Nausea and Vomiting
The stomach is covered by a layer of mucus which prevents the stomach lining from being exposed to the acids in the stomach.
Alcohol causes your body to produce more hydrochloric acid which damages the mucus layer and allows acid to come into contact with your stomach lining. This causes gastritis, inflammation of the stomach lining.
Nausea and vomiting are also common side effects of drinking too much alcohol as it irritates your stomach lining causing nausea as well as vomiting if consumed too quickly.
The symptoms associated with these conditions can be temporary but if left untreated may lead to ulcers on your stomach which can be dangerous if not treated properly.
#6 – Diarrhea and Leaky Gut
When you drink alcohol, it can cause stomach irritation and make you feel nauseous. This is because alcohol is a strong substance that affects your brain and body in many ways. Alcohol can also cause diarrhea by damaging the lining of your intestines and causing them to become inflamed or irritated.
If you have leaky gut syndrome, it means that your digestive system has become damaged from years of being exposed to harmful substances like alcohol, processed foods and medications.
When you drink alcohol, it adds even more stress on top of this already existing condition by irritating or damaging your digestive system even further.
How Does Alcohol Contribute to Leaky Gut and Gut Bacteria?
The gut is a gateway to your health, and alcohol can impact it in many ways.
First of all, alcohol is a toxin—and a very powerful one. When you consume alcohol, it can damage the cells that line your gut, causing inflammation and making them more permeable (or “leaky”).
This allows bacteria that normally live in your gut to leak out and into your bloodstream, where they can cause problems throughout your body.
But it’s not just the amount of alcohol you consume that can affect leaky gut—it’s also how long you’ve been drinking and what kind of alcohol you choose to drink.
For example, beer has been found to be more damaging than wine or spirits because it contains yeast and sugar, which feed harmful bacteria, as well as gluten, which is a common food intolerance.
Helpful Tips in Case You Want to Enjoy a Little Alcohol
If you’re planning on staying impervious to the effects of alcohol, or if you already are experiencing some symptoms and are curious how to heal your stomach from alcohol consumption, here are some helpful tips:
Tip #1 – Drink responsibly
If you’re looking to cut back on your alcohol consumption, then it’s important that you understand how alcohol can impact your health. While there are some benefits associated with drinking in moderation, too much alcohol can lead to serious health problems.
Tip #2 – Make sure to drink enough water before you have an alcoholic drink
The good news is that you mitigate the effects of alcohol by drinking enough water before you have a drink. Drinking water will help dilute the alcohol in your system and reduce its impact on your gut.
In addition, make sure to drink plenty of water throughout the rest of the night to help flush out any toxins that have entered your body through drinking too much alcohol.
Tip #3 – Don’t drink on an empty stomach (have a balanced meal)
Alcohol is a toxin and when you drink on an empty stomach, it can cause your gut to be more permeable.
This means that harmful toxins can leak into the bloodstream and produce symptoms of a hangover. If you want to enjoy drinks without feeling the effects of a hangover, then make sure you eat before drinking.
Tip #4 – Be careful of your food choices after a hangover
The next time you feel the effects of a hangover, pay attention to your food choices. Alcohol can damage your gut, so you need to be extra careful about what you eat while you’re recovering.
If you’re going to eat something, stick with foods that are easy to digest and have a low glycemic index. That means eating lots of vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and lean proteins like chicken and fish.
Dairy products should be avoided for the most part unless they’re full-fat dairy products that are fermented (think yogurt). When it comes to alcohol itself, it’s best to avoid it for the first few days after drinking heavily—you don’t want to further irritate an already inflamed gut lining.
To further fortify your gut, take natural supplements that will accelerate gut healing such as Optima. This product has been rated excellent by thousands of users. Add it to your meals or your favorite drink, or simply mix it into a glass of water for your daily dose. You’ll notice a difference in as fast as two weeks.
Tip #5 – Go with red wine if that’s an option (it increases good gut bacteria)
If you’re not a fan of alcohol, there are still ways to enjoy the benefits of drinking. Red wine is one of the best options for people with a leaky gut because it contains resveratrol, which can increase good gut bacteria.
If you want to enjoy the health benefits without having to deal with the taste, try adding some red wine to your cooking. You can use it in place of vinegar or lemon juice when cooking meat or marinating chicken.Another option?
If you’re looking for something less expensive than red wine but still have a similar effect on your gut health, consider kombucha. It’s fermented tea and has been shown to improve gut health by increasing good bacteria while decreasing bad bacteria.
Drink Moderately: Answer to Frequently Asked Questions
Does Alcohol Cause Gut Inflammation?
YES, when taken in excess. Alcohol can have a negative impact on the integrity of your gut. It can damage or irritate the lining of your gut, which is also called the mucosa.
This can lead to inflammation and allow bacteria and other toxins to enter your bloodstream. When this happens, they can cause further damage to your body.
Does Alcohol Affect Gut Lining?
YES. Alcohol consumption can lead to the injury or death of intestinal cells, which may cause an increase in permeability and an increase in other inflammatory reactions.
Alcohol stimulates the production of cytokines, which are factors for inflammation. Chronic alcohol consumption can also lead to a deficiency in zinc, which can result in an increased risk of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD).
How Do I Fix My Gut After Drinking?
There are a number of ways to help your gut recover from alcohol.
First, you should avoid drinking too much. This is the most obvious way to deal with the effects of alcohol on your gut.
Second, consider limiting your consumption of red meats and fatty foods. Red meat and fatty foods can damage the lining of your intestines, which can make it harder for you to digest food properly.
Third, consider taking a probiotic supplement or eating more fermented foods such as yogurt or kefir. Probiotics help replenish good bacteria in the body and improve digestion.
Finally, avoid eating heavy meals before bedtime. Eating before going to bed can cause acid reflux or heartburn since you’re lying down for an extended period of time after eating a large meal.
What Alcohol Is Best for Gut Health?
Wine has a higher amount of antioxidants than beer and hard liquor, which can help to protect your gut from leaking.
Wine contains polyphenols, which are a type of antioxidant. These antioxidants are thought to be responsible for many of wine’s health benefits, including helping to reduce inflammation and improve blood flow. Red wine is known for being particularly rich in polyphenols, but white wine may also contain some.
It’s important to remember that what you eat or drink is never the sole cause of any problem. There are always other factors at play. Similarly, not all alcohol impacts your gut in the same way, or with the same effect.
The type of alcohol you drink can have an influence as well, affecting how fast alcohol goes into your bloodstream and how long it stays there before being metabolized by the liver.
You may want to do some additional research on this subject so you are well informed about what effects drinking too much alcohol can have on those that do indulge in it.