Hit the health goal with a dry January

Are you a casual and sociable drinker? Or a hardcore weekend warrior? Maybe you consider yourself halfway there. Whatever type you belong to, alcohol can interfere with the functioning of the stomach.

“The alcohol stays in the stomach for some time, being absorbed into both the bloodstream and the small intestine,” says Peyton Berookim, a dual-trained gastroenterologist in Los Angeles. “It can affect acid production by decreasing the stomach’s ability to destroy harmful bacteria that enter it.”

Berookim also notes that drinks with more than 15 percent alcohol by volume can delay stomach emptying, which can cause bacterial breakdown of food and abdominal discomfort.

And, according to Berookim, alcohol has a immediate impact on the structure and integrity of the gastrointestinal tract.

“Alcohol alters the number and abundance of microbes in the gut microbiome. These organisms affect the maturation and function of the immune system,” says Berookim. “Alcohol alters the communication between these organisms and the intestinal immune system.”

Moreover, giving up drinking for 31 straight dayssays Berookim, lowers blood pressure and levels of blood glucose (sugar), cholesterol, triglycerides, liver fat, and uric acid. Drinking raises these values. If a person’s levels are already skyrocketing, fortunately, a dry month is enough to lower them.

“Our digestive system, including the liver, is resilient and recovers quickly in the absence of alcohol,” says Berookim.

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