How Does Alcohol Influence Digestive Diseases?

Alcohol intake is totally contraindicated for health, and even more so when suffering from digestive pathologies, as it will worsen the symptoms.
How Does Alcohol Influence Digestive Diseases?
Saúl Sánchez Arias

Written and verified by the nutritionist Saúl Sánchez Arias.

Last update: 16 September, 2022

Regardless of the dose consumed, alcohol is a toxic substance that can cause alterations in digestive diseases, to the point of worsening their prognosis. Although it should be restricted in any diet, attention should be paid when there’s a chronic pathology with an inflammatory base.

If so, its intake can lead to an increase in symptoms and other complications. And, even though it’s an accepted drink in society, it still belongs to the group of drugs harmful to health. In the medium and long term, it tends to produce damage in various body systems, even with moderate intakes.

The effects of alcohol on the body

The first thing to note is that alcohol increases inflammation levels. This is really bad, whether chronic disease is already present or not.

When a state of chronic, low-grade inflammation develops, the body’s physiological processes decrease in efficiency. Thus, as evidenced by research published in The British Journal of Nutrition , health tends to deteriorate.

In fact, this bad habit also alters the hormonal environment. In particular, it causes a drop in testosterone levels and increases the concentration of cortisol. In turn, it inhibits protein synthesis, leading to skeletal muscle degradation.

Such a mechanism further increases the inflammatory process and causes deleterious changes in metabolic functioning. And while both genders are affected, it’s believed to be especially harmful to men.

The reason? A decrease in testosterone levels is linked to a greater tendency to age. After all, we’re talking about your main sex hormone.

These effects worsen after the age of 40 when lifestyle habits aren’t corrected. It can manifest itself in various health disorders.

A woman with alcohol.
Although alcoholic beverages are normal in society, they are considered toxic drugs for the organism.

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Alcohol and digestive pathologies

In addition to the problems mentioned above, the effects of alcohol on the intestinal microbiota should also be highlighted. A study published in the journal Behavioural Brain Research states that it reduces the density and diversity of bacteria living in the gut, which increases the risk of dysbiosis.

Once the microbiota is altered, digestive processes begin to deteriorate. This may result in intolerances or increased symptoms associated with intestinal pathologies. In addition, the poison itself could be the cause of some of them, such as ulcers or gastroesophageal reflux.

In fact, when suffering from the latter condition, it’s best to avoid the intake of alcohol and irritating substances. On the other hand, ingesting this type of beverages can modify the absorption of some nutrients or the homeostasis of the organism.

To be more precise, it tends to cause acute hypoglycemia, although in the medium term what it creates is insulin resistance, as well as fatty liver, which negatively affects the functioning of the metabolism. It’s best to avoid alcohol in the diet, even occasionally.

Alcohol and acid secretion

We mustn’t forget that alcohol consumption can also alter the production of acid in the stomach. If tissue is damaged for any reason, this would aggravate the symptoms.

In this context, it’s best to consider a soft diet and increase the intake of vitamin C to promote collagen synthesis and achieve adequate recovery.

Ultimately, it’s important to mention that the intake of these drinks itself is considered a risk factor for the development of cancer in the digestive tract. The esophagus, stomach, and intestine will have their epithelium modified due to the presence of the toxicant in the diet. In the long term, this leads to the genesis of malignant cells.

A man drinking alcohol.
Alcohol worsens digestive diseases and worsens their symptoms. In addition, it triggers diseases.

Alcohol is harmful for digestive diseases

Whenever there are digestive pathologies, it’s necessary to completely restrict the consumption of intoxicating beverages. Otherwise, their symptoms may worsen or the conditions may progress more rapidly.

In fact, these toxic substances should be avoided in any context. While until a few years ago it was speculated that a small amount could protect the cardiovascular system, this is now known to be totally uncertain.

Thus, its consumption should no longer be normalized and, as far as possible, rejected. Instead, priority should be given to the consumption of mineral water, which is the best source of hydration for the body.

All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

  • Minihane, A. M., Vinoy, S., Russell, W. R., Baka, A., Roche, H. M., Tuohy, K. M., Teeling, J. L., Blaak, E. E., Fenech, M., Vauzour, D., McArdle, H. J., Kremer, B. H., Sterkman, L., Vafeiadou, K., Benedetti, M. M., Williams, C. M., & Calder, P. C. (2015). Low-grade inflammation, diet composition and health: current research evidence and its translation. The British journal of nutrition114(7), 999–1012.
  • Qamar, N., Castano, D., Patt, C., Chu, T., Cottrell, J., & Chang, S. L. (2019). Meta-analysis of alcohol induced gut dysbiosis and the resulting behavioral impact. Behavioural brain research376, 112196.
  • Sethi, S., & Richter, J. E. (2017). Diet and gastroesophageal reflux disease: role in pathogenesis and management. Current opinion in gastroenterology33(2), 107–111.

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.