We are all in favour of having a glass of our favourite tipple but we do need to be mindful of its effect on our gut health (and general health!).
Alcohol is absorbed in the upper intestinal tract and enters your liver via the portal vein. The gut-liver axis is a fairly new concept but the majority of research we have is on rodents (ethics play a big role in why good quality human studies are few and far between!).
The bacteria in your gut help you metabolise alcohol. This is one of the many reasons why we all tolerate alcohol in different ways. Excessive alcohol consumption can cause inflammation in your gut, which can result in the wall of your gut lining becoming more ‘permeable’.
This means that whole food particles and other substances in your gut, like, toxins, may cross the gut lining and enter your blood stream, which you don’t want! This can set off a cascade of immune responses and you could find yourself unable to tolerate foods you once could without symptoms. Chronic alcohol consumption may result in bacterial overgrowth and dysbiosis and the overall composition of the gut microbiome.
Let’s not forget about the day after the night before. Excessive alcohol can increase your desire to consume processed foods (we’ve all been there chowing down on a late night snack, when maybe we aren’t actually hungry). Increased consumption of highly processed foods can wreak havoc on your gut microbiome.