Anyone out there who knows me or has read my Bio Page knows that I enjoy a drink or two from time to time. Wine is my favorite, although I must say I am pretty picky and like the wine from our wonderful province of BC most. If you have not tried BC wine, do it now! Or read this article and then decide if you want to drink it. I will be discussing alcohol and leaky gut, and then be outlining how us “ancestral lifestyle” individuals may be doing a great job of protecting our livers/bodies from the damages of alcohol by the way we are living.
On a side note, what a great post for a Friday, how many of you are going to go home and relax after a long week by splitting a nice bottle of wine with your significant other – Or 2 bottles 🙂
Alcohol & Leaky Gut
I am sure most of you fall into the category of enjoying the occasional, or more than occasional, alcoholic beverage. What I am sure most of you don’t know, and I didn’t know until recently, is that alcohol consumption has been shown, in both animal and human studies, to lead to disruptions in our gut microbiome, like small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO), and also to increased intestinal permeability (Leaky Gut). If you are not familiar with these conditions, I would suggest scouring Chriss Kresser’s website. Basically, what we are looking at here is a change in the beneficial bacteria in our intestines which can lead to certain molecules “leaking through” our intestines into our bloodstream. I am not talking about nutrients, which are supposed to get through to our bloodstream, I am talking about things that aren’t supposed to be there, things that our body recognizes as foreign and harmful; ultimately, leading to a chronic, systemic inflammatory response in our body. Leaky gut and SIBO are taking center stage these days as major causes of a great deal of chronic lifestyle related diseases and autoimmune conditions. One such disease is alcohol induced fatty liver disease (ALD) (1).
So the reason most of us probably haven’t heard about alcohol and leaky gut is because leaky gut and SIBO haven’t become a mainstream idea that we see in the media or hear from our doctors, and also because majority of the information communicated to us seems to support the fact that mild to moderate alcohol consumption can have positive impacts on our health, reducing the risk of certain diseases.
Probiotics, Alcohol and Leaky Gut
When looking through some of the studies out there, it concerned me when I came across this one (2) that linked alcohol consumption in people with inflammatory bowel disease to an increase in markers for leaky gut, and this literature review (1), that also indicated that alcohol consumption can lead to SIBO and leaky gut. However, after further review of (1) and, coming across this study (3), I discovered that probiotic and prebiotic consumption concurrent with alcohol consumption may have a protective effect on the damages alcohol can have on our liver. I know this study (3) was performed with rats, but still…
What’s also interesting, after reading these studies, is that probiotic and prebiotic ingestion after the onset of ALD reduces all markers of the disease! This really excited me, but I had to calm myself down because reasonably speaking, it is clear that alcohol consumption is simply not all that great for us, and probiotic and prebiotic consumption seems to simply buffer the negative effects. Basically, alcohol consumption is still not an ideal choice given that it does lead to some not so nice conditions.
However, for most of us, myself included, ceasing alcohol consumption completely for the rest of our lives sounds either impossible, or just plain boring. What is the saying?
“I feel sorry for people who don’t drink. When they wake up in the morning,
that’s the best they are going to feel all day”
LOL! Also, I truly enjoy the flavor of a nice wine or expensive tequila, and the pairing of said drinks with great paleo food.
Paleo Living, Alcohol and Leaky Gut
Living a paleo/ancestral lifestyle already decreases the chance of developing SIBO and leaky gut because we do not eat the majority of foods that can contribute to these conditions (grains, legumes, industrial seed oils, processed chemical containing foods, etc). Secondly, we a lot of probiotic foods including homemade fermented vegetables like sauerkraut, beets, store bought fermented pickles (Bubbies brand Dills), Kombucha (GTs brand is my fav), and I also take some probiotics once and awhile when I feel they are needed. Thirdly, eating a diet full of whole foods involves lots of vegetables (including starchy tubers) and spices/herbs which also provides all the prebiotics we need in our diet. Since all of the above already strengthen our resistance to leaky gut and SIBO, we should be able to consume a REASONABLE amount of alcohol with very little detrimental effect on our gut and health. Obviously I have not tested this on myself with biomarker testing – that would be too much work – but the evidence out there seems to suggest that a focus on gut health via healthy living, including plenty of probiotic and prebiotic food should provide some protection against the negative effects of alcohol consumption.
However, the literature does seem to show that people who already have a gut/bowel condition are more susceptible to the gut damaging effects of alcohol, and they should likely do their best to have as little alcohol as possible. Since autoimmune conditions can be directly related to SIBO and leaky gut, these individuals should also limit consumption of alcohol to as little as absolutely possible.
Don’t get me wrong, I hope haven’t convinced you that alcohol consumption the best choice for optimal health; however, I think we can say that living a paleo/ancestral type lifestyle involving #JERF and plenty of fermented probiotic foods may mitigate the detrimental effects that mild to moderate (let’s not go crazy here) alcohol consumption may have on our health.
What do you think?
The Barefoot Golfer