The holiday season is full of holiday spirits – eggnog, champagne, Christmas cocktails – and those spirits can take a toll on your gut microbiome (the trillions of bacteria that live in your gut).
Just a single night of overdoing holiday cheer can leave you with more than a morning-after hangover. It can also cause a major shift in your gut bacteria, which can bring on symptoms such as:
And GI distress is last thing you want to deal with when you’re trying to enjoy the delicious meals and special treats this holiday season.
But a few simple tricks – including knowing which spirits to drink and which to avoid – can help you make merry without making your gut microbiome pay for it.
‘Tis the Season for Extra Drinks
Even if you don’t indulge much during the year, most of us increase our alcohol consumption during the winter holiday season… especially on Christmas and New Year’s Eve.
That includes a lot of “binge” drinking and drinking “heavily”.
Now, you may not think you’re binge drinking or drinking heavily, but it doesn’t take as much to cross those bars as you’d expect. Binge drinking just means having at least 4 drinks during a single occasion. That means enjoying a few glasses of wine with your holiday dinner and one after-dinner drink technically puts you in the binge category.
Drinking heavily just means you have at least 8 drinks in one week. If you count Christmas, New Year’s, and the week in between them, you could easily hit the “heavily” guideline without realizing it.
Studies show that “event-specific” drinking spikes during the winter holiday season, with most people consuming more alcohol that they normally do. In fact, people tend to drink at least twice as much on Christmas and New Year’s.
That extra alcohol threatens your gut health… unless you do something to prevent it.
Most Alcohol Hurts Your Gut
Your gut doesn’t like most types of alcohol. Almost as soon as you take a drink, the alcohol starts to upset your digestive system. In fact, even one drink can trigger your system to produce more stomach acid – and that can bring on pain and inflammation in your stomach (gastritis).
Your gut bacteria have an even worse experience. Drinking alcohol can cause dysbiosis, a condition where bad bacteria (pathogens) outnumber good bacteria (probiotics) in your gut microbiome. Dysbiosis can lead to all kinds of health issues, including:
Several studies show that drinking alcohol (except for a few specific types) has a direct, negative effect on your gut microbiome – killing off probiotics and allowing pathogens to take over.
One study found that drinking beer can be harmful to good gut bacteria. Oddly, the same study also found that nonalcoholic beer boosts diversity in the gut microbiome, which leads to a healthier gut.
Another study found that two types of whiskey both decreased gut bacteria diversity and increased populations of pathogenic bacteria. Whiskey drinking also killed off beneficial bacteria known to produce healthy short chain fatty acids.
Can Your Microbiome Prevent a Hangover?
When your microbiome is in healthy balance, probiotic bacteria produce anti-inflammatory compounds that can counteract the painful inflammation that comes with hangovers. A healthy gut also produces many B vitamins, which are commonly used in hangover home remedies.
With all of that damage potential, you can see why it’s so important to protect your gut microbiome if you’re planning to indulge in a little Christmas cheer this year.
Some Alcohol Helps Your Gut
Even though most alcohol isn’t good for your gut, red wine seems to be a true exception. In fact, studies show that red wine (not white, not rosé) offers benefits to your gut microbiome, specifically supporting good bacteria.
Red wine contains compounds called polyphenols, powerful plant chemicals that offer a wide range of health benefits from reducing inflammation to improving blood flow along with boosting beneficial bacteria populations in your gut. At the same time, those flourishing probiotics increase polyphenol processing, so your body can gain even more benefits from them.
A new study found red wine drinkers have more diverse gut microbiomes – a crucial sign of healthy gut balance – along with healthier weight and cholesterol levels. This study included more than 3,000 participants in three different countries, and tested the effects of a variety of alcoholic beverages, including:
- Hard cider
- White wine
- Red wine
Only the red wine brought positive effects for the gut microbiome.
In another study researchers gave some (lucky) volunteers nine ounces of red wine every day for nearly three weeks. On the 20-day mark, the participants had significantly more Bifidobacteria, one of the most important keystone strains in the microbiome.
Not a red wine fan? If margaritas are more your style, you may be in luck. Though there aren’t any clinical studies (yet), tequila comes from the agave plant. Agave syrup (used to make tequila) contains a special kind of fiber known as fructans, which has been shown to support healthy probiotic bacteria.
And even if your favorite holiday drinks don’t involve red wine or tequila, there’s a very simple step you can take to protect your gut against alcohol-induced dysbiosis…
Shield Your Gut Against Alcohol Woes
You don’t have to avoid alcohol entirely to keep your gut in good shape, but it does take some extra effort if you decide to indulge – and especially if your drink of choice is not red wine.
All it takes to shield your gut microbiome is two simple steps:
Step 1: Replenish beneficial bacteria with high quality spore probiotics.
Just Thrive Probiotics contain four clinically proven strains of spore probiotics. Together, these powerful probiotics:
- reinforce the good bacteria in your gut
- kill and control pathogens
- produce essential B vitamins
- produce highly absorbable antioxidants
- produce anti-inflammatory compound
Just Thrive spore probiotics keep your gut microbiome in healthy balance, so it can handle a little extra indulgence during the holiday season. Plus, by producing antioxidants, B vitamins, and anti-inflammatory compounds, spore probiotics may just help you skip the next-day hangover blues.
Step 2: Feed only the beneficial bacteria in your gut with specially targeted prebiotics
Just Thrive Precision Prebiotics nourish and support the beneficial bacteria in your gut microbiome. Prebiotics are special forms of insoluble fiber, the preferred food of the most important probiotics in your microbiome. Supplying the beneficial bacteria in your gut with Just Thrive Precision Prebiotics lets them flourish and grow so they can crowd out pathogens and produce the essential vitamins, antioxidants, and healing compounds you need to feel your best all year long.
Ramp up your gut microbiome protection this holiday season with Just Thrive Probiotics and Just Thrive Precision Prebiotics so you can truly enjoy every delight – including a happy gut.