The Gut is a Metabolic Organ
The intestinal tract is far more than just a laundry shoot for food: it’s a dynamic, metabolic-immune-microbial orchestration. Food and bacteria interact to influence our metabolism, energy storage, and immune system.
Inflammation and Imbalances in the Gut Microbiome (intestinal bacteria)
Imbalances in intestinal bacteria, along with stress, medications, alcohol, and processed foods, increase gut permeability (leaky gut) and allow immunologically stimulating particles, such as endotoxin, to be absorbed. These inflammatory molecules stimulate components of the immune system, which is synonymous with belly fat and metabolic aberrations (insulin resistance and pre-diabetes). Indeed, many studies have found leaky gut to coexist along side obesity and metabolic syndrome.
How Alcohol and Processed Foods Cause Poor Gut Health
Consumption of processed fat and alcohol, as found in the Western diet, perturbs the balance of gut microbes, affecting gut barrier status (leaky gut) and allowing the absorption of bacterial endotoxin (aka metabolic endotoxemia), but also leads to the formation of toxic gases and metabolites known to increase fat storage (Short Chain Fatty Acids or SCFA). This is because gut bacteria imbalances and poor food choices can cause those microbial friends to extract even more energy from food, increasing fat storage and altering blood-sugar metabolism, which is undesirable.
The Ways Alcohol Causes Leaky Gut
Recent studies have found that alcohol causes leaky gut and increases the absorption of bacterial particulate, known as endotoxin (AKA LPS or lipopolysaccharide). Moreover, acetaldehyde, a by product of alcohol metabolism, also causes changed in the gut microbiome, gut barrier and immune system.
Alcohol damages the gut and causes changes in the gut microbiome, increasing the absorption of endotoxin. Endotoxin is pro-inflammatory. So it’s best to minimize alcohol intake, but if you are going to drink stick to red wine; the polyphenols may help to offset some of the pro-inflammatory effects imparted by the alcohol.
Also, supplement with inulin, the prebiotic fiber prior to drinking alcohol as well. Studies show inulin increases the level of healthy bifidobacterium in the gut. Bifidobacterium helps to neutralize endotoxin; according to some research.
Rao, R. (2009). Endotoxemia and gut barrier dysfunction in alcoholic liver disease. Hepatology, 50(2), 638–644. doi:10.1002/hep.23009