Alcohol Metabolism: Drinking Puts Your Microbes to Work!

When you take a drink of alcohol, your body has a multistep process for breaking it down and eliminating it from your body. While you may know that the liver is the primary organ responsible for processing alcohol, it turns out that your gut microbes assist, too!


Here’s How It Works

This process starts with your microbes converting the alcohol into a chemical known as acetaldehyde. Acetaldehyde is a toxic chemical and can seriously damage cells in your liver, brain, pancreas, and gastrointestinal tract. It’s even been linked to the dreaded “hangover.”

There are a few microbes in your gut that have been found to aid the accumulation of acetaldehyde: the groups Ruminococcus, Collinsella, Prevotella, Coriobacterium, and Bifidobacterium.

Then, another set of microbes steps in to decompose acetaldehyde: the groups Parabacteroides, Lactobacillus, Streptococcus, Bacteroides, and (again) Bifidobacterium.

These microbes convert acetaldehyde into acetate, a chemical your body can better handle. Acetate can then be converted into carbon dioxide and water, two substances that are easy to remove from the body.  


Different Bodies, Different Microbes, Different Reactions

Some are at greater risk of developing health problems related to alcohol than others. A lot of this has to do with how different bodies process alcohol.

However, it’s still best to moderate your consumption of alcohol, or not drink at all. Heavy drinking, in particular, is hard on the body and may contribute to disease. Long term heavy drinking can contribute to liver damage, cancer, memory problems, mental health issues, high blood pressure, and heart disease.

And while your microbes can help you process alcohol, alcohol is still not great for your gut.

Explorer™ can help you explore the levels of your acetaldehyde “accumulators” and “decomposers” and see how these levels compare to others.


Interested in affecting the levels of these microbes? We offer personalized insights, based on the latest microbiome research.

Use the code UNLEASH at checkout to get 50% off a Gut Explorer kit through the end of February 2019. Click here to get your kit.



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*All posts must tag @uBiome and use #UnleashYourExplorer to be counted as a valid entry. The first weekly contest will run Friday 2/1 to Thursday 2/14. Entries must be received by 11:59pm PST on Thursday 2/1. The Grand Prize contest will run Friday 2/1 – Thursday 2/28.  Entries must be received by 11:59 PST on Thursday 2/28 for the Grand Prize. Weekly winners will be announced at 10:00am PST on Friday 2/15. The Grand Prize winner will be announced by 10:00am PST on 3/1/2019.