Alcohol consumption

How one affects and influences the other

Millions of people regularly consume alcohol. Not everyone who uses alcohol experiences the same effects or develops an alcohol use disorder. Some researchers hypothesize that gut microbiota may explain alcohol consumption trends.

An imbalanced gut microbiome may influence alcohol consumption

The latest study focus on this subject comes from the Complutense University of Madrid. A team of scientists has discovered that excessive alcohol consumption is linked to a distinct microbiome profile. They asked 507 young volunteers to complete a drinking habits questionnaire and provide fecal samples. Using the Bristol Stool Scale, the results demonstrated a linear relationship between alcohol consumption and the type of feces.

Next, the Madrid researchers compared a selection of non-drinkers and heavy drinkers using the samples and bacterial analysis. They found that heavy drinkers had more actinobacteria than non-drinkers. However, this showed that alcohol consumption alters gut bacteria, but not that the altered microbiome leads to increased alcohol consumption.

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So, to test this, the researchers transplanted feces from alcohol-dependent animals into healthy animals. Animals that received the alcohol-dependent fecal transplant increased their voluntary alcohol consumption compared to a control group. The researchers then gave alcohol-dependent mice antibiotics, which reduced their alcohol consumption.

The influence of the intestinal microbiota on the body

Certain gut bacteria help metabolize alcohol. For this reason, we all tolerate alcohol differently. Unfortunately, those with fewer of these bacteria cannot detox from alcohol either.

In the intestine live bacteria, viruses, fungi and yeasts. This microbial community co-develops with the host throughout life and is dependent on host genetics, nutrition, lifestyle, stress, disease, and antibiotic use. The intestinal microbiota affects the immune system, metabolism and the nervous system. Gut bacteria supply the host with essential nutrients such as vitamins, metabolize bile acids and undigested substances, protect against invasion of pathogens, and play a crucial role in maintaining gut barrier function.

The gut microbiota influences brain functions such as myelin production, blood-brain barrier permeability, neuro-inflammatory responses, mood and behavior. Additionally, crosstalk between microorganisms and host involves a wide range of signaling pathways, including several types of chemicals like metabolites produced by bacteria from dietary or endogenous carbohydrate and protein sources ( i.e. AGCC, indole), inflammatory neurotransmitters and cytokines.

Thus, everything you eat and drink can positively or negatively affect and modify this internal ecosystem. Therefore, everything you eat and drink can positively or negatively affect and modify this internal ecosystem.
As such, there is a link between the gut microbiota and the pathophysiological factors of alcohol dependence, which include gut barrier function, liver damage, and psychological issues.

Alcohol Consumption and Gut Bacteria: How One Affects and Influences the Other
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Professor Fredrik Bäckhed from the University of Gothenburg, a scientist from an earlier study, said:

“Our results provide strong evidence that alcohol dependence is not just in the brain but may, in some cases, be associated with an imbalance of gut flora. [From the study results]it seems that some alcoholics may need different treatment than others.

Professor Bäckhed was part of a 2014 study team that analyzed a group of 60 alcoholics in rehab. All 60 alcoholics in the study drank the same way.

After 19 days of rehab, researchers noticed a huge difference in how the test subjects recovered. They hypothesized that their gut flora affected their new well-being and the likelihood of relapse.

Why? Because 26 of 60 alcoholics had leaky gut syndrome and low levels of gut bacteria, specifically the anti-inflammatory Faecalibacterium prausnitzii. These 26 test responders scored high on tests for depression, anxiety and cravings after 19 days without alcohol – barely any improvement since entering rehab.

Meanwhile, the other 34 participants with normal gut flora recovered better, scoring low on hopelessness, anxiety and alcohol cravings – scores close to those of the non-drinking control group.

The researchers concluded that gut flora is linked to recurrence after drug rehab. Bäckhed hopes this discovery will lead to new gut flora-based treatments for alcoholics.

How alcohol consumption changes the composition of bacteria

Chronic alcohol consumption changes the composition of the intestinal microbiota and function, intestinal inflammation, intestinal mucosal permeability and affects intestinal immunological homeostasis. Additionally, studies have shown how alcohol increases gut microbes in animals and humans.

This proliferation may be directly due to alcohol, but some studies suggest that it may also be the consequence of impaired digestive and intestinal functions caused by alcohol.

Altering the Gut Microbiome Could Help Alcoholics Fight Addiction

The gut microbiome affects host health, including brain and behavior. Alcoholism damages the intestinal barrier and the microbiome. Therefore, researchers suggest that certain probiotics and prebiotics may help alcoholism.

Alcohol Consumption and Gut Bacteria: How One Affects and Influences the Other
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Alcohol, the microbiome and the treatment of liver disease

Alcoholic liver disease ranges from mild disease to alcoholic hepatitis and cirrhosis. Even before liver disease develops, alcohol can alter gut bacteria/microbiomes. These changes intensify with disease progression and can make it worse.

These changes intensify as the disease progresses and can make it worse. Microbial activity, including bile acid metabolism, may control alcohol-related damage in cirrhosis and alcoholic hepatitis. Changes in the microbiota can also affect brain function, and the gut-brain axis can reduce the risk of relapse.

In alcoholic liver disease, probiotics, fecal microbial transplants and antibiotics have had mixed success. However, since most of these patients are not candidates for liver transplantation, modulation of the gut-liver axis is vital as an alternative treatment.

Alcohol also alters your body’s nutrient delivery mechanisms

Excessive alcohol consumption can hamper the body’s ability to digest and absorb nutrients food.
Incomplete digestion causes increased intestinal fermentation, leading to gas, bloating, and loose stools.
In addition, excessive alcohol consumption can promote intestinal inflammation, making the intestinal lining more porous.

As a result, whole food particles can pass through the stomach lining and enter your bloodstream, leading to immunological reactions and allergies. So you won’t be able to eat the meals you once could.

Plus, excessive alcohol consumption can make you crave processed foods (hint: remember eating all those late-night snacks when you weren’t hungry?). Unfortunately, highly processed diets can further harm your gut microbiota.

So be aware of how alcohol affects your diet! Remember, if you’re going to drink, at least feed yourself gut-healthy foods afterwards to make up for the damage you’ve done!