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Can Alcohol Consumption Affect Your Gut Health? Expert Answers

Alcohol consumption can affect your health in multiple ways including your gut health. Here's how.

Can Alcohol Consumption Affect Your Gut Health? Expert Answers

Over consumption of alcohol can affect your health negatively in several ways

When food is consumed inside the body, it is broken down into a form that is best suited for the cells, and the process is called digestion. This process takes place inside the digestive system, where the nutrients are further absorbed into the bloodstream for growth and repair. However, did you know that consuming alcohol can take a toll on the right functioning of your gut? In recent years, cases of gastrointestinal problems have been on a constant rise, especially among those who are constantly consuming alcohol.

The stomach is an important part of the digestive system and is the first line of contact if anything is ingested into the body. Hence, it is more vulnerable to toxins. When alcohol enters the digestive system, it even affects the mouth, throat, and oesophagus. If it reaches the bloodstream, it can severely damage the liver and large intestines. Moreover, alcohol consumption disrupts the production of acid inside the stomach, reducing the number of good bacteria. At the same time, a heavy single dose of alcohol can erode the mucous cells that protect the stomach from digestive enzymes and lead to inflammation and lesions.

Risk factors for alcohol consumption

The digestive system has to work extra hard to reduce the toxins in the body caused by alcohol abuse. As a result, the body is not able to prioritize other nutrients, and the alcohol is directly absorbed in the blood. Some of the ways in which alcohol can affect gut health include:

1. Gastritis: Drinking too much alcohol can erode the lining of the stomach and cause gastritis. The symptoms of this condition can be sudden, frequent, and long-lasting. In worse cases, it can also cause chronic pain and lead to a stomach ulcer or tumours.

2. Stomach cancer: It has been seen that people who regularly consume alcohol are at a higher risk of developing stomach cancer, which might also lead to colorectal cancer.

3. Liver failure: Although the liver helps in digesting the majority of the alcohol that enters the body, it puts extra pressure on the liver cells, which die in the process. This can lead to scarring and, in worse cases, liver failure. Alcohol also reduces the liver's ability to function properly and regenerate new cells.

4. Damage to the pancreas: Alcohol use is one of the two leading causes of acute pancreatitis (inflammation in the pancreas). The symptoms of this condition can start suddenly and increase the chances of permanent damage.

Ways to manage gut health

It is important to understand that managing gut health is very important because more than half of the immune system is in the GI tract. The 2 important ways that need to be kept in mind include:

Quit alcohol: It is important to quit alcohol at all costs as it can also affect the functioning of other major organs.

Regular check-up: It is recommended to keep a regular check on cholesterol, blood pressure, and sugar levels. At the same time, if a person experiences symptoms like frequent gastritis, chronic diarrhoea or pain and is also regularly drinking, they must immediately consult a doctor.

(Dr. Amol Dahale, Consultant, Gastroentrology, Manipal Hospital, Baner-Pune)

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Disclaimer: This content including advice provides generic information only. It is in no way a substitute for a qualified medical opinion. Always consult a specialist or your own doctor for more information. NDTV does not claim responsibility for this information.


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