A glass of wine, cold beer, or fancy craft cocktail can be lovely for chilling with friends, celebrating a happy occasion, or decompressing after a hard day. But remember that last time you “toasted” a few too many times?
Likely you woke up with a pounding head and an upset stomach that made you question the wisdom of that nightcap or two.
Experts say large quantities of alcohol can lead to gastritis or stomach inflammation, which causes heartburn, acid reflux, and more.
There’s a strong connection between alcohol and gut health, says gastroenterologist Niket Sonpal, MD.
What’s going on with your tormented tummy?
"Once alcohol leaves the stomach and it gets metabolized, it hits the small intestine," Dr. Sonpal says. From there, he says that alcohol can damage the lining known as the villi, making it harder for you to absorb certain nutrients while at the same time killing off both good and bad bacteria.
"The bad bacteria tend to grow more, and so we ended up getting a mismatch of the microbiome as well."
Now let’s take a look at how your morning-after gut responds to those night-before bevies.
According to the University of North Carolina health newsletter, alcohol consumption disrupts both the digestion of sugars and the balance of bacteria in the gut. It also leads to a shift in the gut’s normal fungal diversity, causing the overgrowth of a type of yeast called candida. These shifts increase gas production in the gut, and that causes your abdomen to feel uncomfortably bloated.
Remember what we said everyone has a mix of “good” and “bad” bacteria in their gut? Well, too much alcohol messes with the normal balance, increasing the bacteria that cause inflammation and irritation in the gut, while decreasing the bacteria that help with digestion. Even more concerning, excessive bad bacteria can lead to “leaky gut” in which gaps in the intestinal wall allow bacteria and other toxins into the bloodstream.
Imbibing in access disrupts the production of mucus lining the stomach, which can cause inflammation. Symptoms of gastritis include abdominal pain, nausea, and vomiting. Simply put, alcohol irritates your gut. Alcoholic gastritis can be chronic or short-lived.
What about digestive enzymes?
Let’s circle back to digestion 101. When you imbibe, the alcohol is absorbed from your small intestine into the veins carrying blood to your stomach and bowels. During this time, ethanol, the active ingredient in alcohol, is sent to the brain, activating the intoxicating effects.
After your stomach and bowels completely absorb the glass of cheer, it is carried to your liver for further metabolic breakdown. It is met by alcohol dehydrogenase (ADH) and aldehyde dehydrogenase (ALDH) enzymes.
These enzymes are responsible for breaking down the toxic properties of alcohol for later elimination. Your body is ridding itself of these toxins, and those enzymes are getting a workout and not working as efficiently as you might hope. Read more about this process in What You Need To Know About Digestive Enzymes and Alcohol.
What Can Help?
The National Institutes of Health states that for adults who choose to drink alcohol, women should aim for one drink or less daily, and men two drinks or less daily. These amounts are not intended as an average but rather a daily limit.
With that said, you may consider cutting back for various reasons, including gut health.
But what if you’re a moderate, time-to-time drinker who’d like to minimize the accompanying digestive fallout?
First, plan ahead by committing to lots of hydration before, during, and after. Then call in your gut health support, homies.
Digestive Enzymes, from Zenwise, can help bump up critical enzymes needed to metabolize alcohol and more. It’s proven that replenishing digestive enzymes is crucial to healing and rebuilding a less-than-optimal intestinal lining (leaky gut).
Remember to get support before you sip with Digestive Enzymes. Have questions about other digestive supplements in the Zenwise® line? Our customer service team is ready can help at email@example.com or M-F from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. EST at (800) 940-1972.