Suffering from a hangover is a widespread problem in the United States and the rest of the world, and no we’re talking about how people want to the watch the hangover again and again.
Hangovers are characterized by a general feeling of misery as proclaimed in the annual meeting of the Alcohol Hangover Research Group (AHRG).
Most ‘hangover cures’ such as hangover shakes and hangover pills available on the store aisles or in natural remedy books are, unfortunately, a myth.
However, emerging research in probiotics has found an important benefit that these live microorganisms living in your gut can provide – treatment for hangovers.
Healing your gut and digestive system could be the key to staving off the dreaded 2 day hangover.
Here is everything you need to know about how probiotics can help treat your alcohol hangover.
What Causes Hangovers?
Alcohol is a diuretic which means it makes you flush out more water than normal. This can lead to a number of dehydration symptoms (next morning symptoms) such as dry mouth, poor sleep, and a headache.
Drinking heavily can also affect sugar and electrolytes in the blood to cause body aches, nausea, and fatigue. The same can be said for people who decide to watch the hangover trilogy all at once in the same day! Typically, the more sugary an alcoholic drink, the worse the subsequent hangover can be. That’s why most people think a red wine hangover or champagne hangover are amongst the worst you can get.
Acetaldehyde is a byproduct of digesting alcohol and the major reason behind hangovers. Your body first breaks alcohol into acetaldehyde and then into acetate.
While acetate is non-toxic, acetaldehyde is the culprit behind liver inflammation and the 2 day hangover that can lead to not only an uncomfortable Sunday, but a terrible Monday as well.
Acetaldehydehas a major role in releasing hormones that compel you to stay indoors as a result of nausea and general feeling of being unwell.
You will experience shorter bouts of hangover symptoms if your body can metabolize alcohol quickly from the acetaldehyde stage into the acetate phase.
Alcohol and Gut Microbiome
Drinking regularly can cause multiple microbiome imbalances and bacterial overgrowth. Alcohol is a major cause of gut dysbiosis, when unhealthy bacteria outnumber the beneficial bacteria.
Alcohol is known to wipe out whole colonies of beneficial bacteria that keep your digestive system healthy. This results in unhealthy bacteria entering your bloodstream and one of the reasons why you are unable to stomach food during a hangover, let alone those nasty hangover shakes which claim to cure a hangover but really do nothing at all.
Primarily, alcohol targets Lactobacillus and Bifidobacteria strains. Low levels of Bifidobacteria can result in making your hangover worse since it is known to help break down and detoxify acetaldehyde.
Bifidobacteria are thought to help prevent symptoms of a hangover by preventing the accumulation of this toxic by-product of alcohol metabolism.
Hangover and Digestion
Digestion has everything to do with your hangover since when you drink alcohol, you essentially ingest toxic substances. The resulting hangover with dehydration, exhaustion, and overall burnout is due to your body’s inability to handle the alcohol and all its toxic effects.
You irritate your stomach’s delicate lining with the first sip of alcohol you take. While you continue drinking, your stomach keeps on pumping more stomach acid than normal.
This results in worsened inflammation of the stomach and gastrointestinal tract (called gastritis) due to the ensuing chemical imbalance.
People with a healthy and balanced gut enjoy better digestion. This gives them the capacity to better deal with overindulgences than those people that have depleted probiotic colonies.
This is one of the major reasons behind some people bouncing back after a night of overindulgence, while others calling in a sick day due to a 2 day hangover.
Probiotics is the Miracle Cure and Prevention
If you’re wondering how to prepare for a night of drinking, you can mitigate the harmful effects of alcohol by improving your gut health. This can in turn reduce the horrible effects of even the nastiest red wine hangover.
Probiotic supplements are known to help with direct and indirect negative effects of alcohol faster.
Probiotic supplements contain live microorganisms that help re-colonize the gut with healthy bacteria. This ensures that you do not suffer from gut dysbiosis and that acetaldehyde is quickly metabolized into acetate.
When your gut microbiome is balanced, your body is better able to deal with free radical stress in the liver and the depletion of enzymatic and nutritional antioxidant defenses elsewhere in the body.
Alcoholics are found to have lower levels of the gut bacteria Lactobacilli, Bifidobacteria and Enterococci, as compared to those who do not drink. Probiotic supplements can result in increasing the levels of both Bifidobacteria and Lactobacillus.
Many naturopaths recommend a probiotic supplement with the strain B. bifidusbefore going to bed. You should have it again the following morning to reduce the severity of a hangover. However, taking regular probiotics are recommended for maximum benefit – see how long does it take for probiotics to start working.
What Does The Research Say?
In a Russian study investigating the effects of probiotics on liver damage, the participants (66 adult Russian males) were asked to take a probiotic supplement as way how to prepare for a night of drinking..
After just 5 days of supplementation and regular drinking, the participants showed fewer signs of liver inflammation. This study correlates gut probiotics with assisting in alcohol metabolism.
The same research observes that the presence of certain strains of probiotics may help better with the restoration of the microbiome and result in a greater improvement in alcohol-induced liver injury as compared to standard therapy of vitamins and alcohol abstinence.
Pre-tox with Probiotics
The best way to fix a hangover is to not suffer from it in the first place. So the next you’re wondering how to prepare for a night of drinking, take a probiotic supplement or have a probiotic rich fermented beverage if you are headed out and worried about next day’s repercussions.
Probiotics taken an hour before alcohol in the form of supplements, food, or drinks can help metabolize or break down alcohol molecules faster.
Kefir water and kombucha are tried and tested remedies. They are easy on the stomach and will not react with alcohol. Make sure you drink water in between downing the shots.
This will save the already existing probiotics in the GI tract from harsh stomach acids. You could also consider fermented foods like sauerkraut, pickles, or miso as an alternative finger food snack.
Try having a daily probiotic supplement to maintain the balance of bacteria and yeast in your gut. This will ensure that your gut is healthy enough to bear the onslaught of the occasional binge.
Make sure you get a supplement with potent and viable bacteria strains of Lactobacillus and Bifidobacteria species. The strains should be present in high CFUs to make a difference to your gut.
Probiotics may not be the antidote for alcohol abuse or the miracle that will mitigate chronic liver damage. However, probiotic supplements can be the secret to quick relief from the 2 day hangover.
Beneficial microbes living in your gut could help your digestive system and body recover quickly after a night’s binge drinking.