Binge Drinking Could Be Dangerous For your Gut, Researchers Warn

In Education

Excessive alcohol consumption during New Year’s Eve celebrations may negatively impact gut health, as revealed by Irish researchers. Young adults engaging in binge drinking exhibit changes in their gut microbiomes, linked to impaired emotion recognition and increased alcohol cravings.

Associated risks of binge drinking often unnoticed

Binge drinking is prevalent among young adults in Western nations, with one in three European young adults engaging in it. In Ireland, 60% of individuals aged 18 to 24 participate in monthly binge drinking. Despite its commonality, the associated risks, such as an increased likelihood of alcohol use disorder and lasting cognitive impairment into adulthood, often go unnoticed.

Researchers from APC Microbiome Ireland investigated the potential association between the gut microbiome and cravings, impulsivity, and social cognition in young binge drinkers. The study involved 71 participants and revealed significant correlations between cravings, emotional and neurological processing, and alterations in the gut.

Dr. Carina Carbia, the lead researcher, said that they investigated the impact of binge drinking on the gut microbiome of young adults, revealing alterations associated with changes in social cognition and impulsivity. The study suggests a connection between the gut microbiome, brain function, and behavior, emphasizing its potential role as a biomarker for dependence. Carbia, highlights the significance of these findings in understanding the relationship between gut health and addictive behavior.

Alcohol misuse leads to changes in gut microbiome

The study findings align with previous research, providing additional support for the potential development of dietary or pre/probiotic interventions to protect the gut from the negative effects of alcohol.

Professor John Cryan, the study’s senior author, said that the study indicates a connection between the most common pattern of alcohol misuse in early adulthood and changes in the gut microbiome, even before addiction occurs. It underscores the significance of the gut microbiome in regulating craving, social cognition, and emotional functioning. Cryan advocates for microbiota-targeted diets or interventions to positively influence gut-brain communication in adolescence before addiction develops.

It is therefore important to address both the social and health consequences of binge drinking, particularly in the context of events such as COVID-19 that may impact mental health.

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