While the connection between gut and brain has been known for some time, we are only now learning about the importance of a healthy gut for overall health. So what does this mean for people who are struggling with addiction? Is there a relationship between your digestive system and sobriety? In this article we will explore the relationship between alcohol consumption and your digestive system, including how to support your microbiome through diet and lifestyle changes. By learning about how the gut affects sobriety you can learn how to prevent relapse by focusing on your overall wellness.
During the past decade researchers have become increasingly aware of the connection between the gut and brain.
The gut-brain axis is a term coined by medical researchers to describe the connection between the two organs. The gut and brain communicate with each other through the nervous system and hormones, but recent evidence suggests that bacteria living in the gut may also play an important role in this process.
In fact, some researchers believe that our brains are affected by bacterial products (the molecules secreted by bacteria) via the vagus nerve—an extensive neural pathway connecting your brain to your gut. It’s thought that these bacterial products affect neurotransmitters (chemical messengers in our brains), which can influence mood as well as pain perception; they also seem to have an effect on hormones produced by our bodies’ endocrine system (a network of glands).
The gut-brain connection is known as the gut-brain axis, and it has a profound influence on our overall health.
The gut-brain connection is known as the gut-brain axis, and it has a profound influence on our overall health. In fact, this two-way street is so important that some experts have dubbed it “the second brain”.
It’s not just about the brain influencing the gut, either: data shows that our emotions can send signals to our digestive system via nerve endings in the GI tract (also known as visceral sensory nerves), which help us digest food and process sensations like hunger and fullness. And if you think that’s fascinating—wait till you see what else happens!
A healthy gut can help support sobriety
Probiotics are a type of good bacteria that help your digestive tract function properly. They’re a natural solution for maintaining healthy gut health, and they can also benefit your brain and mood.
Probiotics are frequently used to treat diarrhea, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), Crohn’s disease and other gastrointestinal disorders. But there’s evidence that these microorganisms can have an impact on mental health as well: Studies have shown probiotics may help reduce anxiety, stress levels and depression symptoms—and even reduce cravings for alcohol or cigarettes!
Alcohol causes gut inflammation, which can lead to problems in your body including the inability to combat stress
When you drink alcohol, your gut starts to experience inflammation. This is a normal bodily response—your body is trying to get rid of whatever might be hurting it so that it can heal and be healthy again. However, when the inflammation gets out of hand and continues for too long (or even stops) it can lead to problems in other parts of your body.
Your ability to fight off stress may be reduced by an inflamed gut. Inflammation can cause various hormonal imbalances that make it harder for your brain and body to naturally deal with stressors like work deadlines or disagreements with friends or family members.*
You may have trouble falling asleep because an inflamed gut can affect levels of serotonin (a hormone associated with sleep), making them lower than usual.*
Your digestive system helps maintain mental health
Your gut microbiome plays a vital role in your mental health, and the connection between these two areas of research is growing stronger by the day. Research has shown that a healthy gut can help you maintain emotional stability and feel happier overall. This makes sense when we consider how much our brains depend on gut health for optimal performance: neurotransmitters like serotonin (the happy hormone) and dopamine are produced by bacteria in our guts! In fact, some researchers believe that depression may be caused by an imbalance of bacterial species in our guts—a condition known as “leaky gut syndrome.” As far as maintaining sobriety goes, this knowledge becomes incredibly important when considering those with eating disorders or chronic stress who might already have damaged digestive systems (or at least some unhealthy habits). For example: If someone consumes excess sugar or processed foods while recovering from an eating disorder, they’re more likely to experience symptoms such as anxiety or depression due to leaky gut syndrome. The good news is that probiotics can help reverse these issues by restoring balance within your digestive tract so that it functions optimally again!
The start or a relapse can be predicted by an imbalanced microbiome.
Your microbiome is like your second brain. It consists of a collection of microorganisms in your gut and other parts of your body that help you digest food, produce vitamins and regulate the immune system.
Your gut microbiome has an impact on everything from mood to immunity to weight management—and it can also affect whether or not you remain sober. “If we have a healthy microbiome, then our brain is much less likely to be affected by stress,” says Dr. Emeran Mayer, director at the Gail and Gerald Oppenheimer Family Center for Neurobiology of Addiction at UCLA David Geffen School University (UCLA). “The same is true for addiction: if we have a healthy microbiome, then it’s going to be much less likely that we’ll fall back into addictive behaviors.”
Your digestive system’s health is important for your mind
Your digestive system is a vital component of the body’s overall health. The gut-brain axis refers to the communication between your gut and your brain, which is heavily influenced by what you eat and drink. It’s part of why you get butterflies in your stomach before an important event, why you sometimes feel thirsty after eating a meal, or why some foods make you feel energized while others make you feel tired.
The microbiome (the bacteria that live in our guts) has also been shown to have an important role in mental health. In fact, research shows that probiotics—beneficial bacteria found in fermented foods like yogurt—can help improve depression symptoms as well as reduce alcohol cravings and binge drinking behaviors among alcoholics who are trying to stay sober.
The gut-brain axis is a complex topic, but it’s important for anyone with a history of addiction to understand this connection. A healthy gut can help support sobriety and mental health, so it’s worth paying attention to what you eat and how you feel after eating. If you notice symptoms such as anxiety, depression or an inability to manage stressors in your life, consider making lifestyle changes like eating more vegetables or taking probiotics supplements.