Hi, I’m Dr. Chad Larson. So, we need to have a little conversation about alcohol consumption and St. Patrick’s Day. St. Patrick’s Day is the 4th leading day for alcohol consumption behind New Year’s, Christmas, and Fourth of July. So I just want to have a little talk about some statistics that really don’t need to happen.
The first is the sixty drunk driving deaths that happen on St. Patrick’s Day, nationwide on average. That’s just too many. Sixty souls gone because somebody made some very, very avoidable bad decisions. And among those average sixty deaths, three out of four incidents involved a driver who had over two times the upper limit of blood alcohol concentration. In most cases the legal limit is .08 BAC, and in most of these fatal accidents, a driver had more than double that level. These are completely avoidable tragedies.
I think sometimes it helps just going into it, and being reminded of these statistics. Hopefully, if we can change even just one life, influence one person to make good choices, then I think we’ll have done our job.
-Dr Chad Larson
But there’s one more slightly less dramatic statistic that I want to talk about, and it’s the connection between alcohol and the immune system. There are multiple connections between them, but a key one I want to mention is that we know that alcohol disrupts the balance of the gut microbiome. This is the balance of the good guys and the bad guys in the gut. And we know that even a brief one-day imbalance of too much alcohol affecting the bacteria can cause a breakdown of the intestinal barrier, or leaky gut. Once you have leaky gut, then inflammatory substances that are inside the gut are allowed to sneak out, seep out through the gastrointestinal tract, get into your circulation superhighway, and deliver inflammatory chemicals and substances all over the body. In fact, some researchers say that this is part of the cause of the hangover effect of having too much alcohol the day before.
This kind of problem is very avoidable. In these studies it’s determined that about four drinks is enough to cause breakdown of the intestinal barrier by disrupting the balance of the gut microbiome. Four drinks. Probably pretty common on St. Patrick’s Day. But I believe it can be avoided and you can decrease the chance of this problem happening. Because as you know, if our immune system gets suppressed, then you become a more susceptible host to opportunistic pathogens in your environment.
I’m half Irish. I’m going to celebrate on St. Patrick’s Day, but I’m going to do it in a smart way. And I sure as heck am not going to drink and then get behind the wheel of a vehicle. So, please. Don’t do that. Definitely have a good time and celebrate, but do it in a smart way so that you can stay safe and healthy.
Talk to you next time.