Alcohol & Gut Microbes, Does A Little Fun Kill Your Health?:
So as science progresses we’re learning that microbes inside us play a very important part in our health.
Whether it’s worrying over how much fiber we get, if we’re too clean, too isolated,
Or if the probiotics we take can even help us avoid serious disease.
One of the other favorite human pastimes of course, is using a little nutritional alchemy to up the fun-quotient of life.
But according to the list of studies in this roundup by SciShow, that fun might have some consequences for that newest & tiniest frontier of our health…
Please Don’t Drink The Hand Sanitizer:
So if you think about it, instead of just going nuts and drinking it,
The main active ingredient in hand-sanitizers like Purell is,
So then if you take that a step further, when you have a drink aren’t you just Purell-ing your whole guts out?
Wouldln’t you need an Activia-booster the next morning along with your hangover cure?
It’s All About Dosage:
But here’s the thing, Purell is 70%+ Alcohol.
Straight Alcohol like Vodka or Gin is only 40% most of the time.
And even lower than that is Wine at 12%, Mixed-Drinks near 8%, and Beer is at 5%.
So you’re pretty dang far away from Purell.
To get anywhere near 70%, you’d have to drink straight Absinthe or Everclear.
And at that point, you’ve got much bigger, Van Gogh-Level problems.
So short of that, maybe you don’t have to worry about the instant-death of all your gut microbes?
And as a light-to-moderate drinker, alcohol use conversely turns out to be a tiny-bit beneficial!
Boozing In The Time Of Cholera:
And it works much the way all of the water-supply replacements did before 1908.
Back when most of the world was partially-drunk all day. (ie: Utopia)
You see back then, there was no safe water and people really didn’t study bad microbes that much.
So the solution was to drink weak beer, wine, and other alcohols.
-Especially if they came in sealed containers of some type.
Well guess what? -Alcohol consumption doesn’t just avoid bad microbes,
It also kills them!
The Next Cheeky-Monkey Stomach Flu Cure? Alcohol!:
In-fact out of the bad microbes we get exposed to,
People who drink wine and beer have a better chance at killing:
2) Norovirus (hi, Chipotle!)
All before they can start making you sick.
It’s not clear how, but it seems that if the proof isn’t high enough to be Purell,
Then the interaction with stomach acids & oxidizing chemicals we found in in the gas-pill experiment are the likely culprits.
Tip Your Hat To Captain Jack:
In addition to that, people who either drank Wine or a shot of some alcohol with Oysters,
Had a good shot at even avoiding the liver-destroying Hepatitis A if the shellfish was contaminated!
This may also be why you see pirates like Johnny Depp historically portrayed surrounded by barrels of Rum.
Maybe it was just “good medicine” when your random sources of food and drink could be compromised?
And also a mental-anesthetic for the hard life of a pirate,
In an age where the standard of conspicuous public drunkenness was challenging.
Not that we’re telling you to get out there & get drinking, but…
So Alcohol Kills The Good Gut Microbes Just After The Bad Ones, Right?:
The $64,000 question then becomes, “Does it hurt the rest of you after killing Cholera?”.
And for light to moderate drinkers, that answer looks like it’s No, so-far.
The reason comes from alcohol’s characteristics and how your body is built.
Alcohol is really good at absorbing into things, and your stomach has a ton of strong chemicals in it.
1) Basically all of it either reacts with those chemicals or is absorbed by the time things pass through.
2) Most of your gut-bugs actually live down in the larger parts of your GI tract, way past the stomach-area.
Alcoholic Drinks Have Other Good Components, Too:
Because it’s not just Alcohol per-se, but what we drink with it.
And for red-wine drinkers that carries even more benefits.
Everything you’ve heard associated with increased-resveratrol intake like keeping brain-cells alive,
To all the beneficial plant-chemicals you also hear about with Blueberries,
Including both the mental, circulatory, and Heart benefits, too.
And sure-enough, you also get one more pre-20th-century bug-benefit too!
Red Wine Appears To Ward-Off Clostridium:
Red wine drinkers were also less likely to get infected with Clostridium-type bacteria, too.
NOT that it’s a Cure, a preventative, or that you should roll the dice like the Raw Water morons.
But that family does at-least include the dreaded C.Diff, and other terrible ones, too.
In addition to being cautious about dangerous claims or outrageous experiments,
Don’t believe the study that red wine drinking is associated with weight-loss.
You’d be dead of liver-failure before you ever got enough resveratrol to convert sufficient white fat to metabolic brown fat to make a difference.
And on the subject of crazy experiments and things taken too far:
Most of the associated-benefits of all the studies were for Light-to-Moderate drinking ONLY.
H.Pylori Demonstrates The Moderation Case:
For example, 1 more bug that alcohol kills?
-Which is a big deal, because 30% of people in big cities like New York are unknowingly infected with it from using public handrails,
And H. Pylori is associated with both stomach ulcers and The Big C!
And that particular study also highlights the importance of Caution.
-Because as people turned from Moderate to Heavy drinkers,
The benefits disappeared.
In-fact, Heavy drinkers were MORE likely to have an H.Pylori infection!
And that isn’t just true for that one bug.
It’s true for almost all the bad bugs that light-moderate drinking is supposed to help fend-off.
But The Benefits Disappear For Heavy-Drinkers:
Long-term heavy drinking does all kinds of bad things.
-Like slowing down your whole gut by
1) Dehydrating you
2) Kicking minerals like Magnesium out of you
3) Altering the genes in stomach & intestine-cells
4) Thinnning-out the slick-lining of your intestines that protects you
And #4 also increases Inflammation, along with aggravating your liver by sending it additional toxins to clean-up.
This also comes from distilled-spirits, like Whiskey or Bourbon.
Because the by-products of that process cause both Inflammation and Histamine responses.
The other part of that is the classic story you hear about heavy-drinkers or alcoholics.
The Classic Symptoms Of Heavy-Drinkers:
Stomach problems & ulcers.
Because #3 can screw up the cells to the point where they either produce too much,
Or also Too Little stomach acid.
And now you’ve reversed the benefits.
-Because just like alcohol-itself, stomach acid is our best-defense against bad microbes in our food.
So as with anything, if you overdo it, things tend to turn around & bite you.
Avoid Toxins & Inflammation By Going DaVinci Drunk, Not Pirate Drunk:
So keep those endotoxins, inflammation, and histamines at-bay to stop hurting your liver and the rest of you.
They may have kept Rum around for good reason back in 1784,
But “Pirate Drunk” will only hurt you later-on after the initial fun.
Stay healthy with the moderation crowd, and hang on to all the pre-20th-century-benefits of a little “internal cleansing”.
And when you bring your box of Franzia to the spa and they look at you funny, just have them read this.
Cheers to you and all your good alcohol-loving gut microbes!
Video by SciShow
Photo, “Wine before the aftermath”, by Henk Sijgers
• Source: YT
• Source Studies:
• Eurosurveillance – The protective effect of alcoholic beverages in a foodborne outbreak of Salmonella Enteritidis PT1 in northern Portugal
• J.FoodScience – Wine is Bactericidal to Foodborne Pathogens
• BPCGastro – Effect of alcohol consumption on the gut
Jimmy Jam says
Apparently, NO amount of alcohol is beneficial as per the latest (2022) research. Alcohol does indeed disrupt good gut bacteria, and the advantages of polyphenols are negligible.