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Alcohol and the effects on digestion

Answered on August 19, 2014
Created September 24, 2012 at 9:10 PM

This involves a bit of bathroom talk, bear with me!

I've been strict paleo for several months now after figuring out that I'm intolerant to a few foods and after a very alcohol-heavy year at university. I cut out alcohol entirely for around 8 months to let my body heal and recover from those effects and the problems left behind from eating food my body can't tolerate. Overall I've been a lot healthier.

However, I just started school again and although I'm willing to stick to my strict paleo diet...I really miss being able to drink with my friends. Since I started drinking again I've noticed severe stomach cramps the next day followed by really loose bowel movements, sometimes it lasts until 2-3 days after! I've never had this problem before with drinking (and trust me...I used to binge drink way more than this). I understand that alcohol can definitely cause this issue in a lot of people, so I'm wondering why it never affected me until now.

I only drink plain vodka or tequila and I mix it with soda water and lemon/lime. Some nights I'll only have 2 drinks, some might end up 5. The amount doesn't seem to have an effect.

So what's the sudden issue? If anyone has an idea feel free to let me know. I will obviously limit my consumption but it sucks having this problem :( I'm 20 years old and I'd like to have fun with my friends when we go out! Maybe eating or not eating before drinking has an effect? Maybe wine would be better? I have no clue.

Thanks!

Be1dbd31e4a3fccd4394494aa5db256d

(17969)

on November 14, 2012
at 11:38 PM

Does it give you similar problems? It's antibacterial but large amounts of alcohol are an A-bomb, so to speak, and I have only heard of similar effects from hunter-gatherers eating an entire bee's nest full of it. Go by what makes you feel good.

9c4ba98a3b480408bcf207f558fe659b

(355)

on November 14, 2012
at 07:41 AM

Only somewhat related Stabby, but what are your thoughts re: raw honey? Also bacterial suicide? (I eat a lot of raw honey)

0859683443aff4a9d341606dbd326d32

(137)

on September 24, 2012
at 10:21 PM

I started taking the brand New Chapter: Turmeric Force which contains 400 mg of turmeric each. My whole family started taking them sometime in May or June, so I've been on them for a while now. No adverse side effects at all! The bottle does say to take one in the middle of a big meal - possible that has some effect on your digestion? However I always take a capsule on days when I do a 36 hour fast and it hasn't had an effect on my digestion when consumed without food either. It might just be different for you!

0859683443aff4a9d341606dbd326d32

(137)

on September 24, 2012
at 10:19 PM

I haven't changed anything else that I can think of. I don't consume any grains, no potatoes, minimal fruit, sometimes nuts, and I stay far far away from dairy/gluten/eggs which are my food intolerances.

0859683443aff4a9d341606dbd326d32

(137)

on September 24, 2012
at 09:51 PM

That's awesome, thanks so much for the suggestions! I took a probiotic a few months ago but have since stopped. I just bought a new one a few days ago so hopefully that will help, if not I'll play around with different brands. My school's homecoming is this Saturday so I'll try switching to wine and cross my fingers haha. I already take turmeric capsules every day so that's a good sign, I'll try some ginger tea as well. Thank you! :)

Be1dbd31e4a3fccd4394494aa5db256d

(17969)

on September 24, 2012
at 09:43 PM

also cocoa http://ajcn.nutrition.org/content/93/1/62.long If you get some plain high quality cocoa powder it will help your bacteria out. I just use everything I find that's an effective prebiotic http://ajcn.nutrition.org/content/93/1/62.long

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3 Answers

3
Be1dbd31e4a3fccd4394494aa5db256d

(17969)

on September 24, 2012
at 09:36 PM

Alcohol is a killer of bacteria. That's why we disinfect wounds with it. But it will also kill off a lot of your important gut bacteria. That's what the loose stools are, mass bacteriacide like with a viral infection. But those bacteria are needed to keep the gut healthy, controlling inflammation and fighting off pathogens. In addition, it will damage the mucosal barrier of your gut, and the reduced efficacy of your friendly bacteria will make it worse. I have written about this before http://highbrowpaleo.com/2012/03/30/the-highbrow-paleo-guide-to-binge-drinking-addendum-further-discoveries-and-thanks-i-wuv-u-guys/ What I found in the rat study that demonstrated this was that the bacteria need to be replenished. They used fiber to feed the bacteria and added a probiotic supplement and the rats didn't seem to have much trouble with alcohol anymore (it's in there if you read it).

So I think you need to work on your gut flora. Probiotics can be a good tool if they are the right ones and of good quality, although it's hard to tell who benefits from what, but fiber and other prebiotics (feed healthy bacteria) like the ones in fruits, vegetables, spices, and herbs are very valuable to you in sorting out your gut issues. Fiber can be a double-edged sword, it can feed pathogenic bacteria too, so if you have problems with eating fibrous foods I would look to certain spices to help. Turmeric, coriander, ginger, and others will help you balance your flora.

Wine would work better than vodka because the polyphenols in it stimulate the growth of healthy bacteria. http://ajcn.nutrition.org/content/95/6/1323.short?rss=1

Alcohol also has a host of other negative effects on the body, which can be effectively mitigated by controlling diet and lifestyle, but again, moderation is key. Here's my other article on alcohol too. I write for people like you, who need help surviving college <_< http://highbrowpaleo.com/2011/12/26/the-highbrow-paleo-guide-to-binge-drinking-mitigating-the-deleterious-effects-of-ethanol-on-health-or-how-to-get-shitfaced-with-impunity/

(not a shameless self-plug because it's directly pertinent to the question ;)

0859683443aff4a9d341606dbd326d32

(137)

on September 24, 2012
at 09:51 PM

That's awesome, thanks so much for the suggestions! I took a probiotic a few months ago but have since stopped. I just bought a new one a few days ago so hopefully that will help, if not I'll play around with different brands. My school's homecoming is this Saturday so I'll try switching to wine and cross my fingers haha. I already take turmeric capsules every day so that's a good sign, I'll try some ginger tea as well. Thank you! :)

Be1dbd31e4a3fccd4394494aa5db256d

(17969)

on September 24, 2012
at 09:43 PM

also cocoa http://ajcn.nutrition.org/content/93/1/62.long If you get some plain high quality cocoa powder it will help your bacteria out. I just use everything I find that's an effective prebiotic http://ajcn.nutrition.org/content/93/1/62.long

Be1dbd31e4a3fccd4394494aa5db256d

(17969)

on November 14, 2012
at 11:38 PM

Does it give you similar problems? It's antibacterial but large amounts of alcohol are an A-bomb, so to speak, and I have only heard of similar effects from hunter-gatherers eating an entire bee's nest full of it. Go by what makes you feel good.

9c4ba98a3b480408bcf207f558fe659b

(355)

on November 14, 2012
at 07:41 AM

Only somewhat related Stabby, but what are your thoughts re: raw honey? Also bacterial suicide? (I eat a lot of raw honey)

0
75e8ceee00e2459860ea38220a3a8118

on September 24, 2012
at 10:15 PM

The tumeric capsules just jumped out at me; how long have you been taking them? I had terrible digestive issues when I tried them (which was unfortunate because they sound great).

0859683443aff4a9d341606dbd326d32

(137)

on September 24, 2012
at 10:21 PM

I started taking the brand New Chapter: Turmeric Force which contains 400 mg of turmeric each. My whole family started taking them sometime in May or June, so I've been on them for a while now. No adverse side effects at all! The bottle does say to take one in the middle of a big meal - possible that has some effect on your digestion? However I always take a capsule on days when I do a 36 hour fast and it hasn't had an effect on my digestion when consumed without food either. It might just be different for you!

0
61ea4896b1ef898345051dcfadd70073

(193)

on September 24, 2012
at 09:33 PM

Did anything else in your diet change when you drank after 8 months of no drinking?? It may simply be a fact that you can no longer tolerate it, but the only way to really know would be testing. Your body may react differently to wine then vodka.

0859683443aff4a9d341606dbd326d32

(137)

on September 24, 2012
at 10:19 PM

I haven't changed anything else that I can think of. I don't consume any grains, no potatoes, minimal fruit, sometimes nuts, and I stay far far away from dairy/gluten/eggs which are my food intolerances.

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