Binge drinking leaves gut microbiota of young people with a hangover
Binge drinking is the consumption of large amounts of alcohol over a short period of time in order to get drunk quickly. It is the preferred way of drinking among teenagers. Unfortunately, the gut microbiota of binge drinkers is not happy about this, with a gut microbiota imbalance potentially contributing to alcohol addiction later in life, according to a study 1.
About this article
Binge drinking leads to acute intoxication. Young people aged between 15 and 25 are most likely to engage in binge drinking. The practice has harmful effects on health during adolescence, since the body is still under development during this period. When practiced regularly, binge drinking alters the structure and functioning of the brain and increases the risk of developing alcohol use disorder, i.e. alcoholism, later in life.
Chronic alcoholics display gut microbiota imbalances (dysbiosis), and the stronger their cravings for alcohol, the more severe the imbalances. These imbalances are thought to cause inflammation of the brain, which in turn affects emotional regulation and (sidenote: Social cognition Ability to understand and manage social interactions. Beaudoin C, Beauchamp MH. Social cognition. Handb Clin Neurol. 2020;173:255-264. ) . Moreover, studies now suggest that dysbiosis and disturbances of the gut-brain axis may also be involved in the development of alcohol dependence.
Identifying signs of vulnerability to alcoholism in young binge drinkers
Irish researchers have sought to explore the links between dysbiosis, inflammation, compulsive alcohol drinking, and emotional control disorders in young binge drinkers. To do this, they brought together 71 men and women aged 18 to 25, who were not addicted to alcohol. They subjected the participants to a neuropsychological evaluation, analyzed samples of their biological fluids for markers of inflammation, and collected stool samples to analyze their gut microbiota. The participants recorded their alcohol consumption and alcohol cravings over a three month period.
One in three young people Binge drinking is the most common alcohol use disorder in Western countries, with one in three young Europeans and North Americans regular binge drinkers.
(sidenote: Interministerial mission against drugs and addictive behaviors: Binge drinking. https://www.drogues.gouv.fr/le-binge-drinking )
Cognitive problems and a transition to alcohol addiction
At the end of the study, the researchers found that young binge drinkers presented a dysbiosis specifically linked to cognitive disorders. Impaired (sidenote: Emotion recognition Ability to identify and describe one’s own emotional states and those of others. Cabé N, Laniepce A, Boudehent C et al : Repérage des troubles cognitifs liés à l’alcool, La Revue du Praticien, 20/10/2019, 69(8);904-8 ) and impulsiveness were each associated with changes in the presence of specific bacterial groups. Irresistible cravings for alcohol were linked to a reduction in an additional bacterial species and an increase in markers of inflammation. As the researchers expected, a greater number of binge drinking episodes increased impulsiveness, which is known to accelerate the transition to alcohol addiction.
They concluded that binge drinking is accompanied by alterations in the gut microbiota that foreshadow the onset of alcohol dependence. The researchers see the glass as half full and are confident their findings will contribute to the development of new dietary or pre-/probiotic interventions to improve alcohol-related dysbiosis in adolescents.
The gut microbiota
2. Road safety: “Hard liquor raises blood alcohol levels more quickly.” True or false? https://www.securite-routiere.gouv.fr/etudes-et-medias/info-intox/un-verre-represente-10-g-dalcool-pur