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With 49% of adults drinking at least once a week in England, there’s no doubt that alcohol plays a significant role in most people’s lives. The negative aspects of overconsumption are obvious, but did you know that excessive drinking can actually have a big impact on the health of your gut? Here are some of the ways that drinking alcohol can damage your gut health.
A disrupted microbiome
Your gut is home to trillions of bacteria, which play a big part in keeping your gut healthy and well-functioning. If you disturb this microbial ecosystem and tilt the environment heavily towards bad bacteria, you’re not doing your overall health any favours. Alcohol can easily disrupt this delicate balance, which in turn results in a weakened gut lining and an imbalance of good versus bad bacteria. The more alcohol you drink, the less diverse your gut microbiome will be. Not only is this detrimental to your digestive system, but also to other organs and your whole wellbeing.
Another effect that drinking alcohol can have on your gut is inflammation. This inflammation can have a negative impact on the structure of your gut, making the lining more permeable. The result is a structurally weak gut, which particles can easily pass through. On top of that, a weak gut lining can also trigger a cascade of immune responses, meaning you could struggle to digest certain foods without suffering from IBS symptoms. Various studies have supported the role alcohol plays in causing inflammation, stating that ‘its metabolites can overwhelm the gastrointestinal tract’.
Eating processed foods
An indirect effect of excessive drinking on your gut is the urge to eat poorly. Processed foods can have a huge impact on the state of your gut microbiome, disrupting the delicate bacterial balance and encouraging the growth of bad bacteria. The desire to eat processed foods is a common result of drinking excessively and it can be difficult to resist. However, if you want to improve both your gut health and overall health, reducing your intake or shopping in a healthier way will help.
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