Does Alcohol Kill Gut Bacteria?

Does Alcohol Kill Gut Bacteria
How Consuming Alcohol Affects Gut Health – Alcohol is quite toxic for the body. It impacts the central nervous system, digestive tract, blood sugar levels, the circulatory system and the immune system, to name a few. The liver – the body’s waste processing system – has to work overtime to clear the toxins from alcohol out of the body.

Excessive alcohol consumption is therefore often related to liver damage, Alcohol, especially large amounts and high concentrations, can overwhelm the gastrointestinal tract. The alcohol kills many of the beneficial bacteria that live in the intestines. Our body needs these bacteria as they support a healthy gut microbiome and many critical processes.

When the amount of good bacteria in the gut decreases, this leaves room for bad bacteria, viruses and fungi to flourish, and can lead to pathogen overgrowth. This is also called dysbiosis. If unresolved, dysbiosis can lead to inflammation in the gut, If the gut barrier is inflamed, it can break open and become “leaky”, which is commonly referred to as leaky gut,

Does alcohol disrupt gut bacteria?

Bacterial Overgrowth – Studies in animals and humans confirm that alcohol increases intestinal bacteria (Canesso et al.2014). This overgrowth may be stimulated directly by alcohol, but some studies suggest that it also could be an indirect byproduct of poor digestive and intestinal function caused by alcohol consumption.

For example, studies of patients with liver cirrhosis (both caused by alcohol and not) found an association between patients with abnormal intestinal motility—the intestine’s ability to move food along—and bacterial overgrowth (Chang et al.1998). Other studies found a connection between alcohol, bile acid, and bacterial overgrowth.

Specifically, alcohol can alter bile-acid metabolism and, in turn, bile acids can affect intestinal bacteria (Schnabl and Brenner 2014). Studies in rats show that alcohol decreases certain bile acids (Xie et al.2013) and treating rats with bile acids reversed bacterial overgrowth (Lorenzo-Zúñiga et al.2003).

What does alcohol do to your gut health?

How does alcohol damage the stomach? – The stomach is the first organ to have long contact with alcohol. The stomach’s primary job is to store and mix food and drink that has been consumed.15 One-off and regular drinking can interfere with the functions of the stomach in a number of ways.16

Alcohol can affect stomach acid production. This can reduce the stomach’s ability to destroy bacteria that enter the stomach, which can allow potentially harmful bacteria to enter the upper small intestine.17 Mucous cells in the stomach lining protect the stomach wall from being damaged from the acid and digestive enzymes.18 A single heavy episode of drinking can damage the mucous cells in the stomach, and induce inflammation and lesions.19 High alcohol content beverages (more than 15% alcohol volume) can delay stomach emptying, which can result in bacterial degradation of the food, and cause abdominal discomfort.20

How do you restore gut flora after alcohol?

Variety is key – “Many of us stick to eating the same foods week in, week out, but the gut likes variety,” says Kim, but goes on to say that they need to be whole and unprocessed foods. “Refined and highly processed foods do our gut no favours at all. Does Alcohol Kill Gut Bacteria A daily probiotic is the most simple but effective thing you can do for better wellness right now, here are our favourites. Gallery 6 Photos By Bianca London

Why does my gut rot when I drink alcohol?

Gastritis means that your stomach ‘s inner lining is inflamed or worn down. Alcoholic gastritis is what people call it if gastritis happens because of alcohol use. You can take steps to lower your risk, and doctors can help relieve some symptoms quickly.

  1. If heavy drinking is the cause of your gastritis, then cutting back or quitting alcohol will be part of the treatment.
  2. Gastritis has many possible causes.
  3. Just a few of them are eating spicy foods, smoking, stress, diseases that attack your body’s autoimmune system, bacterial or viral infections, trauma, pernicious anemia (when your stomach has problems handling vitamin B12 ), and reactions to surgery.

Alcoholic gastritis is caused by drinking too much, too often. The alcohol can gradually irritate and erode your stomach lining. This triggers gastritis symptoms. Gastritis doesn’t always cause symptoms. If it does, some people assume it’s just indigestion,

  • A gnawing, burning ache in your stomach. It may get better or worse after you eat.
  • A constant pain between your navel and ribs
  • Belching and hiccuping
  • Bloated or full feeling in your stomach that gets worse if you eat
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Loss of appetite
  • If you have anemia (too few red blood cells ) along with gastritis, you may have fatigue and shortness of breath when you exercise, Bleeding in the stomach can cause anemia.
  • Blood in your feces or vomit, which may come from bleeding in the stomach lining
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Other things can also cause these symptoms, so check with a doctor for a diagnosis and treatment. Your doctor will give you a physical exam and ask about your health history and personal habits, including how much and how often you drink. That information may be enough for your doctor to diagnose gastritis. But you may need these tests:

  1. A breath test to check for bacteria that cause gastritis. You drink a special clear liquid and then blow into a bag. The bag is quickly sealed and tested. That reveals if the bacteria broke down the liquid in your stomach.
  2. An X-ray of your upper gastrointestinal (GI) system. This includes the esophagus (the tube leading from your throat to the stomach), stomach, and duodenum (the upper part of your small intestine). You first need to drink a liquid called barium, which helps show details on the X-ray.
  3. Upper endoscopy, The doctor uses an endoscope, which is a thin, lighted tube with a camera at one end. The doctor guides it down your throat to check your esophagus, stomach, and duodenum. They can also use the endoscope to remove some tissue for lab tests.
  4. Blood tests. These look for bacteria that cause gastritis and for signs of anemia.
  5. A stool test to check your feces for bacteria that can cause gastritis or for blood, which could mean your stomach or intestine linings are bleeding.

Your history and test results help your doctor see if you have gastritis and whether alcohol is a factor. Then the doctor can recommend a treatment plan for gastritis or another condition. Most of the time, medication and other treatments ease gastritis symptoms quickly.

  • Antibiotics to kill bacteria that cause gastritis
  • Antacids to reduce your stomach acid
  • Histamine (H2) blockers, which curb how much acid your stomach makes
  • Proton pump inhibitors, which treat stomach ulcers and reflux

In addition to asking you to cut back on alcohol, your doctor may recommend that you avoid spicy foods and acidic beverages like coffee, orange and tomato juices, and colas. And you may need to cut smoking, aspirin, caffeine, and over-the-counter pain medications. Your doctor also might suggest eating smaller meals. Untreated gastritis can lead to serious problems. These include:

  • Anemia. This can happen if you get ulcers in your stomach and those ulcers bleed.
  • Peptic ulcers, These are painful sores in your upper digestive tract.
  • Gastric polyps. These are clumps of cells on your stomach lining.
  • Stomach tumors that may or may not be cancer

So don’t put off calling your doctor if you notice blood in your feces or vomit, dark or tarry-looking feces, extreme weakness, or unexplained weight loss. If you have gastritis related to alcohol or to any other cause, getting started on treatment right away is the right move.

What alcohol is the least damaging to your gut?

Best Drinks for GERD Patients – According to the pH level, gin, tequila, and non-grain vodkas are the lowest acidity options; choosing drinks made with these alcohols will be best on your stomach, You’ll be best served by a drink made with a light juice like apple, pear, or cranberry, but sometimes you just really want that kick of citrus.

What alcohol doesn’t affect your gut?

Dessert wines often contain FODMAPs that may cause indigestion and other stomach issues for people who are sensitive to these types of carbs. BaronVisi/Getty Images

Alcohol can cause gas, bloating, and stomach pain, even if you don’t have a digestive condition. Dry red wines, wine spritzers, light lagers, vodka, and gin may have less impact on your stomach. Talk to your doctor if symptoms persist after you space out drinks, drink water, or stop drinking.

Hangovers aren’t the only consequence of enjoying a few alcoholic beverages — alcohol can also cause some pretty unpleasant stomach symptoms, like gas and indigestion. These effects can be particularly problematic for people with digestive disorders like irritable bowel syndrome, ulcerative colitis, or Chrohn’s disease,

Is vodka good for gut health?

Whether you just want to relax with a brew or you’re in the mood for some bubbly, alcohol is a staple of social occasions both casual and upscale. For those who choose to consume it, questions abide about the health benefits (and consequences) of enjoying the occasional libation.

For those with sensitive stomachs, the question is even more important. So sit back and relax–today, we’re talking about alcohol and gut health. The Alcohol and Gut Bacteria, They Are A-Changin’ You’ve probably heard people laud the health benefits of wine–many oft-cited studies have suggested that red wine, in particular, contributes to good health and even longevity.

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Studies performed over 20 years ago established a correlation between the drink and the positive results; however, more recent studies have pointed to the fact that while red wine is loaded with antioxidants, it’s the lifestyle habits of regular, moderate (key word!) consumers of red wine that are more likely responsible for their health and longevity,

But let’s get specific: according to Healthline, moderate red wine consumption has been shown to somewhat improve helpful gut bacteria populations due to the fact that it contains polyphenols, a type of plant compound that gets broken down (or “eaten”) by gut bacteria. This doesn’t mean you should reach for wine as a way to improve your gut health: the key word, again, is moderation and making informed choices when you do choose to drink.

When choosing wines, opt for a dry red, and steer clear of white, sweet and dessert wines, which contain more sugar and fewer additional health benefits such as antioxidants. Clean As A Whistle (Is What You Don’t Want Your Gut to Be) We’re all familiar with what alcohol does to bacteria; just check the label on your hand sanitizer for proof.

It’s not much different with alcohol and gut health. If you’re feeling like cocktails, here are a few points to consider if you want to put your gut first on a night out. If you generally avoid sugar-packed fruit drinks and pop, which can wreak havoc on your gut and digestive system, it’s a good idea to also avoid sugary mixers in cocktails.

Sparkling water, lemon and lime tend to be better additives to flavor your drinks without as many negative side effects. Then comes the booze itself. It’s tempting to look for the positive sides of distilled hard liquor; after all, certain studies have suggested that clear liquors, such as vodka and gin, are better for hangovers (or at least less bad) than their dark counterparts such as rum and whiskey–there’s also the fact that gin, vodka and whiskey are known to be low-FODMAP,

That being said, if you’re concerned about your gut health, it’s a good idea to steer clear of hard liquor as much as possible. Alcohol in general has a negative effect on beneficial gut bacteria, and generally, the more of it your drink contains, the worse time your gut bacteria are going to have. If you do choose to partake, a good rule of thumb is to never drink on an empty stomach, and have at least one glass of water between alcoholic drinks.

What About Beer? The story of alcohol and gut health dates back a lot further than our current understanding of our digestive systems and the millions of microbiota which keep it operational–in fact, it dates back over 10 000 years, to the invention of beer.

So what about drinking beer in the comfort of our modern world? The good news is that beer is low-FODMAP, making it an option for people following a low-FODMAP diet to consider, Gluten-free beer may be a better option for people prone to bloating and gas, as regular beer is very heavy in gluten and carbohydrates.

Just how high in carbs is beer? While for a long time scientists believed that the invention of bread was what pushed humans to develop agriculture, recent archeological evidence actually points to–you guessed it–beer. Beer was a by-product of wheat which could be fermented from the grain, and as a fermented food, it was both safe to drink and nutritionally rich.

  • That’s food for thought next time you’re enjoying a cold one! Alcohol and Gut Health is Personal! Even for people with highly sensitive digestive systems or conditions such as IBS, the effects of alcohol can be highly personal.
  • As with the potentially beneficial polyphenols in red wine, factors other than strict alcohol content can come into play when it comes to the effect of drinking: beer, for example, contains gluten, and certain hard liquors or sweetened cocktails have a particularly high FODMAP content,

As with many foods, the best thing to do is make informed decisions, observe your body’s reactions, and swap out problematic drinks that make you feel bad, for ones that don’t. Remember, always enjoy in moderation, and practice safe drinking habits. Here’s to your health! You can find more gut health resources on our blog, and check out our recipes sections for great eats and even low FODMAP cocktails you can whip up yourself this summer.

Should you take probiotics if you drink alcohol?

Probiotics are not medications and there are no specific contraindications which suggest that you can’t take probiotics with alcohol. However, alcohol may harm delicate live cultures and populations of gut bacteria, so it is worth considering this if you’re taking probiotic supplements.

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Is beer good for gut bacteria?

Aug.10, 2022 – Can a beer a day keep the doctor away? That’s what new research from Portugal suggests. In a pilot study in the Journal of Agriculture and Food Chemistry, men who drank one can of alcoholic or nonalcoholic lager a day for 4 weeks improved the diversity of their gut microbiome, the collection of microbes that live in the intestinal tract.

A more diverse gut microbiome is linked to a lower risk of heart disease, diabetes, and severe COVID, So, by promoting bacterial diversity, beer may help prevent these outcomes, the study suggests. The findings stand out amid increasing evidence that no level of alcohol, even in small or moderate amounts, is good for you.

This study indicates that a once-daily beer may benefit the gut microbiome regardless of its alcohol content, though nonalcoholic beer may still be the healthier choice. “There are a lot of myths regarding beer,” says study author Ana Faria, PhD, a clinical nutritionist at NOVA Medical School in Lisbon, Portugal.

  • We think it is important to know the impact of moderate consumption of this beverage.” Giving New Meaning to ‘Beer Gut’ For the study, 22 healthy men ages 23 to 58 were randomly split into two groups.
  • One group drank 11 ounces of nonalcoholic lager every day for 4 weeks, while the other drank lager with 5.2% alcohol (comparable to a Budweiser).

At the end of the 4 weeks, analyses of blood and fecal samples revealed an increase in more than 20 types of helpful bacteria in the men’s digestive tracts in both groups. Neither group saw significant changes in body weight, body fat, blood sugar, or LDL cholesterol, the researchers report.

Beer is rich in healthy compounds called polyphenols, which reduce inflammation and oxidative stress in the gut. This creates a good place for beneficial bacteria to grow, Faria says. Fermented foods have also been shown to boost gut microbiome diversity, she notes, meaning the microorganisms from beer’s fermentation may contribute as well.

Is Beer a Health Food Now? These findings both fit – and contradict – previous research exploring the impact of beer on the gut microbiome. One study, in the journal Alcohol in 2020, found that men and women ages 21 to 53 who drank 12 ounces of nonalcoholic beer a day for 30 days saw an increase in gut microbiome diversity.

But a separate group who drank beer with 4.9% alcohol did not see the same improvement. Why the different results between the two studies? It might come down to differences in the people who were studied, explains Khemlal Nirmalkar, PhD, an author on the 2020 study and a microbiologist at Arizona State University.

While the 2020 study included men and women in Mexico, the 2022 study involved only “healthy men” in Portugal. Gut microbiome changes can be influenced by gender and body mass index, other research has found. And the fact that people in the study lived in different communities may also have had an impact, the Portuguese researchers noted in a media statement.

Is Coffee A prebiotic?

References –

  1. Tipton Mills, n.d. Tipton Mills Launches The World’s First Probiotic Coffee, Available at:,
  2. Neutraingredients, 2021. Beneficial brew: NUS researchers develop probiotic tea and coffee with digestive, immune benefits, Available at:,
  3. Sales, A., dePaula, J., Mellinger Silva, C., Cruz, A., Lemos Miguel, M. and Farah, A., 2020. Effects of regular and decaffeinated roasted coffee (Coffea arabica and Coffea canephora) extracts and bioactive compounds on in vitro probiotic bacterial growth. Food & Function, 11(2), pp.1410-1424.
  4. Gurwara, S., Dai, A., Ajami, N., El-Serag, H., Graham, D. and Jiao, L., 2019.196 Caffeine Consumption and the Colonic Mucosa-Associated Gut Microbiota. American Journal of Gastroenterology, 114(1), pp.S119-S120
  5. Jaquet, M., Rochat, I., Moulin, J., Cavin, C. and Bibiloni, R., 2009. Impact of coffee consumption on the gut microbiota: A human volunteer study. International Journal of Food Microbiology, 130(2), pp.117-121
  6. Rao, Satish S.C.a; Welcher, Kimberlya; Zimmerman, Bridgetb; Stumbo, Phyllisb Is coffee a colonic stimulant?, European Journal of Gastroenterology & Hepatology : February 1998 – Volume 10 – Issue 2 – p 113-118
  7. Acquaviva F, DeFrancesco A, Andriulli A, Piantino P, Arrigoni A, Massarenti P, Balzola F. Effect of regular and decaffeinated coffee on serum gastrin levels. J Clin Gastroenterol,1986 Apr;8(2):150-3. doi: 10.1097/00004836-198604000-00009. PMID: 3745848.

Article Updated: 31 Aug 2022 Originally Published: 15 Oct 2013

Is alcohol bad for probiotics?

Probiotics are not medications and there are no specific contraindications which suggest that you can’t take probiotics with alcohol. However, alcohol may harm delicate live cultures and populations of gut bacteria, so it is worth considering this if you’re taking probiotic supplements.