Now more than ever, we’re learning just how important gut health is to our overall health. Gut-friendly fermented foods like kimchi and kombucha are seemingly everywhere. And as research continues to come in, it’s clear that alcohol has a detrimental effect on the gut. We’ll break down the science behind it all and show how cutting down on drinking can lead to better gut health — and overall health.
The term “gut” refers to the (not-so-glamorous-sounding) gastrointestinal tract, which includes the stomach and intestines. Gut health is responsible for the overall homeostasis and wellbeing of our bodies. And the star of the show is the microbiome — the makeup of bacteria and other microorganisms in the intestines and stomach. Gut flora is another term you might have heard to refer to these bacteria. Diversity of gut flora is essential, as it has a widespread effect on our overall health.
Enter alcohol. Drinking produces harmful bacteria in the microbiome, while reducing the quantity of helpful ones. Any kind of imbalance in gut flora can lead to inflammation in the body, lower immune function, and even depression, anxiety or stress. And just a single episode of drinking can damage the gut wall and contribute to poor absorption of essential vitamins and minerals.
Alcohol can also inhibit the production of digestive enzymes and juices, making it difficult to break down food. Partially digested food can cause excessive fermentation in the gut, leading to bloating, gas and loose stools. Not fun. Alcohol consumption can also result in bacterial overgrowth or dysbiosis, leading to leaky gut syndrome, which is just as unpleasant as it sounds — bloating, gas, and cramps. And of course, drinking can often result in misguided decisions to binge on processed foods — which also have a negative effect on the microbiome.
So what does cutting out alcohol do for your gut health? You’re likely to see far fewer digestive issues and inflammation symptoms, and even feel an overall balance in your body. Research shows that people who drink regularly have guts that look much different than people who drink little to no alcohol. Overall gut health can also be a mood-booster, decreasing anxiety, stress and depression.
So if you want the option to make a healthier choice for your gut, Ritual is here for you. With our zero proof spirits, you can still enjoy your favorite cocktails, without the booze. Using Ritual Tequila Alternative, Ritual Gin Alternative, and Ritual Whiskey Alternative in place of liquor, you can easily make your go-to beverage with simple 1:1 substitutions. And if you want to double down on gut health, try whipping up a kombucha cocktail. Your microbiome will be over the moon.