How does alcohol affect inflammation?
Alcohol and its metabolites (endotoxin LPS) trigger an inflammatory response by the immune system which causes gut inflammation. Gut inflammation can then directly lead to intestinal permeability which then causes widespread systemic inflammation in the body and brain.
What about resveratrol in red wine? We all heard that resveratrol displays anti-inflammatory properties and is often recommended to address free radicals and therefore drinking red wine is very healthy.
Unfortunately, this is far from the truth. Red wine contains roughly about 2mg/l resveratrol depending on kind of grapes etc. A therapeutic dose of 200mg of resveratrol is required to have an adequate health impact. So, this means drinking around 31.7 L annual consumption of red wine is required to equal an uptake of ∼70 mg resveratrol (or 0.2 mg/d) which is less than the proposed therapeutic dose of 200mg per day. By that stage, you’re already a heavy drinker so no matter how much resveratrol you’ve managed to uptake, the negatives will outweigh them heavily.
How does alcohol affect your immune system?
Alcohol affects your intestinal mucosal immune system via several mechanisms. It may first decrease the innate immune response in the mucosa, resulting in increased susceptibility to intestinal pathogens (which is something we certainly don’t want). Subsequently, as found in cell culture studies, alcohol may trigger an immune system response and an up-regulation of molecules which promote the inflammatory response, including a release of inflammatory immune cells, such as leukocytes and mast cells.
How does alcohol affect your brain?
Drinking alcohol even in moderate amounts has been linked in a study published in the British Medical Journal to memory problems.
One of the most important connections the gut has is to the brain. This connection is so influential that the gut has even been dubbed the “second brain.” Changes in the microbiome can lead to an imbalanced expression of certain neurotransmitters, leading to a range of mood and neurological disorders.
It actually makes sense as alcohol can cause intestinal inflammation leading to intestinal permeability and consequently to systemic inflammation (as well as brain inflammation).