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GR8NESS expert Expert Reviewed
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What Drinking Does to Your Gut

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Anyone who’s ever had one drink too many knows that the next morning can be rough. The headache, the body aches, and stomach upset. Typically, hangover symptoms subside within 24-hours, but just because the queasiness goes away doesn’t mean your gut has fully recovered. Your gut microbiome affects many aspects of your health, and keeping it balanced is essential.

Alcohol might be one of the worst culprits when it comes to protecting your gut.

Alcohol and the Gut Microbiome

According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, those nauseous symptoms the morning after are caused by gastrointestinal irritation. When you drink in excess, alcohol increases stomach acid, irritates your stomach lining, and causes inflammation throughout your body. You become dehydrated, which affects your intestines, and you feel ill. 

Studies show that while you may bounce back from a hangover relatively quickly, or experience mild symptoms, your gut takes longer to recover. Sustained alcohol use can lead to long-term damage. The same study states that introducing probiotics to your diet may be essential in protecting your gut health from the negative effects of alcohol.

Drinking in Moderation

While drinking in moderation is generally considered safe, studies show that even occasional alcohol consumption can disrupt the microbiota in your gut. The American Gut Project found that individuals who drank in moderation still showed an increase in “bad” gut bacteria. 

Additionally, the microbiota in occasional drinkers appeared much more diverse compared to individuals who do not drink at all. Improving gut health isn’t one-size-fits-all, suggesting that those who do drink may need a different gut health game plan than those who don’t. 

Alcohol May Aid Pathogens in the Body

Another study shows that the regular consumption of alcohol may significantly impact the intestinal tract, leading to a condition known as the “translocation of viable pathogenic bacteria.”

Pathogens, by definition, are microorganisms that cause disease throughout the body. When alcohol damages the intestinal tract, the bacteria can pass through the lining, making their way into the bloodstream, which then carries them throughout the body. So while a hangover may make you feel bad for a day, the bacteria can circulate for much longer. 

Over time, this can lead to chronic health issues such as liver disease, inflammation in the joints, and more. And it all starts with your gut. 

How to Protect Your Gut

Most people have a few drinks now and then. If you’re looking to get your gut health back on track, try the 21-day detox challenge to reset your gut. The challenge includes steering clear of alcohol and is a GR8 place to start.

You don’t have to give up drinking forever. But, if you’re noticing an increase in stomach problems after nights out, or notice that the symptoms are lasting longer than usual, it might be time to take a break and get your gut back in the game.

After you complete the challenge, keep up the good work. Choose a probiotic to help maintain the good bacteria your gut microbiome needs and learn about other surprising things that may be harming your gut.

And hey, there is some good news if you’re looking to indulge a little. Science says that the occasional glass of red wine may help your gut. So after your 21-day detox challenge, go ahead and treat yourself.

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Stephany
GR8NESS Writer
Stephany is a GR8NESS Contributing Editor who writes about pet care, CBD, stress, self care, meditation, time management, brain training, and natural remedies with a focus on the science behind it all. She has three dogs, three cats, walks half marathons, and practices yoga and powerlifting. You can often find her training her dogs or experimenting with new flavors in the kitchen.
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