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Surprising Ways that Alcohol Impacts Gut Health

— December 17, 2023

Alcohol can negatively impact the body in a variety of ways, including by wreaking havoc on gut health.

Anyone who is of drinking age – and plenty of people who are not yet of that age – can speak to the many impacts of alcohol consumption. There are plenty of ways in which alcohol can harm the body, some of which being more serious and harmful than others. Of course, the damage that alcohol does to the body is largely based on quantity – those who consume in moderation are far less likely to be harmed than those who consume copious amounts.

One of the ways that alcohol might harm the body that might not be considered as commonly by the general public relates to gut health. Drinking alcohol excessively may contribute to poor gut health, which is something that the average person might not think to connect to their drinking.

Although this phrase is relatively popular these days, it’s not always clear what is meant by the term gut health. This is talking about the balance of bacteria that are present in the digestive system. A healthy gut has the proper blend of bacteria needed to break down foods successfully and kick off the digestive process. And, since well over half of the entire immune system is found in the gut, it’s particularly important to keep this part of the body healthy.

Surprising Ways that Alcohol Impacts Gut Health
Photo by George Becker from Pexels

As it relates specifically to gut health, alcohol can cause problems because of the imbalances that it can develop in this area. The immune system can be harmed when too much alcohol is consumed and lands in the gut where it can do damage and upset the status quo.

In addition to the alcohol itself, there are plenty of alcoholic drinks that feature ingredients that are known to be potential problems for gut health. Those include things like wheat and barley, grapes, hops, fruits, and dairy. Also, there is a lot of added sugar in many alcoholic drinks, and high sugar levels increase the chances of diabetes, which is another potential area of concern for gut health.

So, does everyone need to give up drinking entirely to protect their gut health? Not necessarily. As a starting point, there are some easy steps that people can take to avoid doing too much gut damage. For starters, trying to have at least three sober days per week is a great step, as is consuming foods that are rich in pre and probiotics. Also, when an individual does drink, doing so in moderation rather than to excess will go a long way.

What about foods to eat after drinking to help the gut biome get back in order? Choose fermented foods, as they will have the best variety of useful materials for the gut to get itself working properly again. Since alcohol affects everyone differently, it’s a good idea for individuals to monitor how certain drinks seem to affect their gut health and then adjust accordingly.


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