It’s common knowledge that throwing back a few drinks is hard on the liver. But we now know that alcohol also affects your liver’s sister organ, the gut as well as the bacteria living inside it, called the gut microbiome. Excessive alcohol consumption (more than two drinks) cause leaky gut by impairing the brick-and-mortar like cells of the GI tract called tight junction proteins (AKA occludens and zonulin-1).
But that is not all; scientists at University of Massachusetts linked excessive alcohol consumption with damage to the intestinal lining and subsequent leakage of inflammatory bacterial particulate known as endotoxin (LPS) and bacterial DNA into the blood of drinkers. Your gut has about 5 grams of this bacterial lipopolysaccharide (endotoxin) material from the gram-negative variety of bacteria living in your intestine. These bacteria include Vibrio cholerae, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, Klebsiella pneumoniae, Yersinia Enterobacter, to name a few.
Learn top foods to eat to rebalance your gut bacteria and metabolism
When blood alcohol rises after a few drinks, the gut lining becomes damaged and bacterial LPS leaks into the blood stream, where it latches onto immune cells (via a receptor called the toll-like receptor 4 or TLR4) and causes an inflammatory response in the body.
The research team in this PLoSONE study noted that blood alcohol levels paralleled both blood endotoxin levels and levels of inflammatory cytokines, like TNF-alpha and IL-6. (These are cytokines that increase inflammation and cause feelings of malaise, like depression and brain fog). Interestingly the scientists in this study showed that women tended to have elevated levels blood endotoxin when compared to men; even though they had similar blood alcohol levels.
Before you drink, take some zinc-carnosine, curcumin, berberine and have some fiber foods or color-rich foods to help offset the alcohol related damage. Studies show that consuming these compounds can help prevent endotoxin from leaking out of the gut and into the blood stream. These phytochemically rich nutrients also help to prevent inflammation.