In 2017, 20.4% of people claimed to be teetotal and not consume any alcohol at all. It would probably be a fair guess that the number has risen since then, with the decision seemingly on the rise. The number of non-alcoholic beverages available appears to increase every few shopping trips, and the lack of hangovers are a selling point.
Nevertheless, most of us still like to have a drink now and then. The question is, can our gut help us to avoid a hangover? So, we decided to investigate it and look at whether alcohol can harm our gut.
Interestingly, the bacteria in our gut help to metabolise alcohol. Each of us has bacteria in our gut that are unique to us, which is one reason why we all tolerate alcohol amounts in different ways. If your body has more significant quantities of the bacteria that can metabolise alcohol, your body will likely detoxify the alcohol more quickly. In contrast, someone with less of the bacteria will probably take longer to detoxify the alcohol.
Well, the obvious answer is yes, don’t drink alcohol. There are also various methods and old wives’ tales that claim to help avoid the dreaded hangover. Still, we wanted to be a bit more gut orientated. At the same time, there is no science-based evidence to show that we can stop or reduce a hangover. A common-sense gut-based answer would be to slow down your drinking. By doing this, you’ll allow your gut enzymes more time to metabolise the previous alcohol, ensuring you don’t have as significant an accumulation of alcohol.
Unfortunately, excessive consumption of alcohol can impede the production of digestive enzymes making it more difficult to break down, digest and absorb nutrients. This can lead to bloating, gas and diarrhoea. Large quantities of booze can also cause inflammation, leading to an increased risk of gut lining permeability and possibly ‘leaky gut’. You can also suffer from a change in your gut microbiota composition and risk dysbiosis (a reduction in diversity and a loss of ‘good’ bacteria).
Finally, when drinking large quantities of alcohol, the possibility of consuming processed foods tends to increase. As you are likely to know already, highly processed foods will not do your gut any good.
Firstly, we’d like to mention that red wine is a good source of polyphenols that your guts bacteria love. Don’t go mad; otherwise, you’ll undo all the good work and cause more issues. The best thing is to drink alcohol in moderation and avoid large quantities, which can cause a range of issues to our bodies. Not just in the gut.
However, we know that now and then, most of us consume more than we should. If this is the case, spreading your drinks out more may help your gut process the alcohol better and reduce the effects the next day. But sometimes, we have to accept our fate and deal with the consequences of some overindulgence.