Help Your Gut Bacteria Manage Your Weight - By Giving up Alcohol
Like many, I’m waiting with bated breath to see what the new government guidelines on alcohol say tomorrow. It is widely predicted that we will be advised to have at least two days a week off drinking and the current recommended units will be reduced.
I welcome changes – the research on the links between drinking, even just one tipple a day, and raising our cancer risk, particularly breast cancer, is too compelling to ignore.
Something that urgently needs highlighting is the impact of alcohol on our gut health: “the microbiome”.
The microbiome is the bacteria mainly in our gut. In the average person this is about a kilo and a half. The pattern of this bacteria can influence weight, before we even get to some of the other biggies like type 2 diabetes, heart disease and cancer. The biggest impact you can have on the shape of this bacteria – and therefore protect yourself from ill health - is diet, which you control.
Too much alcohol can be harmful to the state of your gut bacteria and can irritate the intestinal lining. This shows up in many people as bloating, wind or loose stools after alcohol. Some research shows that plant chemical polyphenols in red wine can help good gut bacteria proliferate, but of course, they come with ethanol alongside. So if you’re really keen on your polyphenols, I’d recommend a fresh pomegranate instead.
In my opinion, having alcohol every day could be like pouring weed killer on your gut bacteria if you’re not very careful. A depleted microbiome can lead to increased calorie extraction from the food we eat, making us store more weight.
Therefore, alcohol is very bad news if you are interested in managing your weight and why I recommend, in the maintenance phase of my book, drinking only a maximum of a couple of drinks three times a week, and not on consecutive days.
If you really want to get your weight on track I recommend a month off drinking, and eating gut-nourishing foods á la Gut Makeover. People who have tried this approach for one month have lost between 7 and 13Ibs and seen improvements in their skin, mood, musculoskeletal pain, arthritis, IBS, acid reflux, bloating, wind, constipation, sleep, energy, sneezing fits, menopausal symptoms, pre-menstrual symptoms to name but a few...and reported their sense of hunger went right down. Reduced hunger isn’t surprising, as gut microbes are now known to be involved in signalling satiety.