Alcohol and Probiotics

While an occasional cocktail may not pose a health problem, excessive alcohol consumption can cause serious risks to your health, including the health of your digestive system. Drinking alcohol can disrupt the natural balance of your digestive tract, increasing your risk of ulcers. Probiotics may help counteract the damage of alcohol and help restore optimal levels of healthy bacteria within your digestive system.

Alcohol can pose a risk to your digestive health. (Image: Jupiterimages/Stockbyte/Getty Images)

Alcohol

Consuming alcohol raises your risk of gastritis and peptic ulcers, a type of open sore inside your digestive tract. Alcohol tends to increase the amount of acid that your stomach produces. This beverage is one of the main risk factors in the development of gastritis, a condition that can cause indigestion, nausea and vomiting. Alcohol can erode the mucous membranes within your stomach, leading to irritation, inflammation and bleeding. In addition to forming inside your stomach lining, peptic ulcers commonly form inside the upper part of your small intestine and along the inside of your esophagus. Duodenal ulcer is the term for a peptic ulcer inside your small intestine. Abdominal pain is the most common symptom of peptic ulcers.

Probiotics

Probiotics are beneficial micro-organisms that are similar to the bacteria that exist naturally within your digestive tract. Lactobacillus acidophilus and Bifidobacterium bifidus are two types of beneficial bacteria. Food sources of probiotics include yogurt, tempeh, fermented milk and certain soy products and juice beverages. Eating these foods or taking probiotic supplements may help restore the natural levels of bacteria within your digestive system.

Dose

The University of Maryland Medical Center recommends taking a probiotic supplement that contains up to 10 billion colony-forming units, or CFUs, per day. Some probiotic supplements require refrigeration to keep them fresh and active.

Precautions

Consult your doctor if you think you may have an ulcer or if you experience abdominal pain, especially after consuming alcohol. Although using probiotics may help restore the natural flora within your intestines, excessive use of alcohol can damage other organs and tissues, as well as interfere with your work and relationships. Seek professional help if you have trouble controlling your alcohol consumption. Probiotics seldom cause side effects, although some people may experience mild bloating and gas.

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