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Alcohol’s Effect on Probiotic Bacteria in the Gut

 You can blame it on the “one more beer” you didn’t really need or perhaps a weekend filled with festivities. Whatever your reason for drinking is, it doesn’t matter at all. We’ve all experience stomach-churning, head pounding, and cotton-mouth effects of a hangover at some time or another. When we speak of hangovers, we are concerned about dehydration and the effects of alcohol on your liver. However, the impact of alcohol on gut bacteria is often forgotten, though.


How does alcohol affect gut health?


The effects of alcohol are quite toxic on the body. To name a few, it affects the following:

  • Central nervous system
  • Blood sugar level
  • Digestive tract
  • Blood circulation
  • Immune function
  • Liver

The liver- the body’s waste processing system, must work overtime to process the toxins that are released by alcohol. Therefore, drinking too much alcohol can cause damages to the liver. Alcohol can also overwhelm the GI tract, especially in high concentrations and amounts. This can kill the beneficial bacteria that live in the gut.

Beneficial bacteria are important for gut health and many other bodily functions. As the number of beneficial bacteria in the gut decreases, harmful pathogens can flourish, especially bacteria, viruses, and fungi. You call this dysbiosis or imbalances of gut bacteria. The resulting dysbiosis in the gut can lead to inflammation. Those who consume alcohol regularly have higher rates of dysbiosis, which can then lead to GI inflammation.


Inflammation of the gut barrier can result in a leaky gut, or the gut barrier-breaking open. The bacteria and chemicals from the foods you ingest can now enter your bloodstream. As a result, the immune system becomes overly active, and inflammation in the body increases.

So, there is no surprise that dysbiosis has been linked to chronic diseases such as diabetes, heart problems, anxiety and depression, and even memory loss.


Can you drink alcohol while taking probiotic supplements?


Yes, you can take probiotic supplements while you drink alcohol. Unlike some prescription and over-the-counter medications, taking probiotics after drinking a glass or two won’t cause any harm.

The problem is that it can compromise the effectiveness of the supplement. Alcohol not only destroys good bacteria in the gut but also destroys the good bacteria within the supplements. Probiotics are also impacted by how much alcohol you drink. A glass or two won’t hurt, but multiple glasses can harm your liver, gut flora, and overall well-being.


You should also consider what time you take your probiotics. Drinking alcohol and taking probiotics at the same time is not advised. Spacing out ensures that the probiotic bacteria can reach and reproduce in the intestines.

It is possible that your probiotic bacteria will not survive the journey from your mouth to your intestines if you drink a lot of alcohol. The high alcohol levels in your system will kill off the beneficial gut bacteria instead.

We recommend that you take your supplements in the morning or at lunchtime if you know that you’re going to drink tonight. This way, you can reap the full benefits of the supplement. You should also take your supplement the next day to negate the negative effects of alcohol on your body.

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