What effects does alcohol have on your microbiome?

Jan 22, 2020
A recent report from the not-for-profit Foundation for Alcohol Research and Education indicated that 1 in 5 Australians drink 75% of Australia’s booze.
Read that again..
One in every five Australians are responsible for three-quarters of the nation's alcohol consumption, and even newer report suggest at least one million Aussies are downing an average of eight standard drinks a day.
Statistics for 2019 state that 82% of Australian adults consume alcohol. Alcohol is the sixth highest risk factor contributing to the burden of disease in Australia (AIHW 2019c).
I certainly can attest that almost everyone I know indulges in a drink either daily or weekly. Combine that with the knowledge that one in four risky drinkers reported recent use of cannabis and just over 1 in 5 reported that they were also daily smokers and you realise the far-reaching effects on health.
Newer studies indicate that alcohol consumption, and heavy drinking in particular, can influence the oral microbiome composition.
Why is this an issue?
Dysbiosis of the oral microbiome can lead to various oral diseases with significant flow on effects throughout the digestive tract.
And for all the skin therapists’ out there, changes throughout our digestive tract WILL impact our skin, quite significantly!
👾 Dysbiosis, or changes in microbiota populations, can influence that person’s immune response, cardiovascular health, metabolic disorders, carcinogen metabolism, and nutrient digestion.
Our microbiome contributes to the neurobiology of many psychiatric disorders as they play an important role in neurochemistry via our HPA (stress hormone)axis, central nervous system, and immune response.
Once consumed, alcohol is absorbed mainly in the upper intestinal tract (some through the mouth, most by the stomach and some by the small intestine) via diffusion, and then enters the liver through the portal vein.
🥂 Alcohol and its metabolites trigger epithelial barrier disturbances by directly damaging the cells lining our digestive tract, and the tight junctions holding them together, and inducing oxidative stress.
Studies have found that chronic alcohol use can actually cause direct cell death, leading to chronic changes in the epithelial integrity -> leading to mucosal ulcerations -> erosions -> loss of epithelium mainly at the villi tips, which directly affects digestive and absorptive capacities -> as well as inducing systemic inflammatory responses -> and often pain results.
Acute binge intoxication is very common, especially amongst teh younger population, and is associated with stress hormone activation, increases in sex steroid metabolite levels, intestinal inflammation, promoting both dysbiosis and bacterial overgrowth through the entire digestive tract.
Chronic alcohol exposure is associated with systemic disregulation of the stress hormone axis’, and the sex steroid systems.
Although the extent of alcohol damage depends in large part on the extent and chronicity of alcohol use, it also involves inherent individual characteristics, including genetics, race, health status and age. There is a bit to consider.
Alcohol induced alterations of the microbiome may contribute to reward-seeking behaviours and craving, as well as enhancing cravings in withdrawal, and THIS IS MOST NOTABLY SEEN IN WOMEN due to the interplay with oestrogen!
Something to consider!