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What Alcohol Does to Your Body, Brain & Health | Huberman Lab Podcast #86

Andrew Huberman2022-08-22
andrew huberman#huberman lab podcast#huberman podcast#dr. andrew huberman#neuroscience#huberman lab#andrew huberman podcast#the huberman lab podcast#science podcast#alcohol#effects of alcohol#alcoholism
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💫 Short Summary

The Huberman Lab Podcast explores the effects of alcohol on biology, brain structure, and neurotransmitter systems, emphasizing the negative impact on health and cognition, including memory, stress, and mood regulation. Alcohol consumption disrupts the gut microbiome, leading to leaky gut syndrome and potential long-term health consequences. The podcast also discusses the importance of maintaining electrolyte balance, gut health, and neurotransmitter levels to mitigate hangover symptoms. Genetic predisposition, environmental factors, and the timing of alcohol initiation play significant roles in alcoholism development. Overall, the podcast provides informative insights into the complex relationship between alcohol consumption, brain function, and overall well-being.

✨ Highlights
📊 Transcript
Effects of alcohol on biology and health implications.
00:15
Alcohol impacts individual cells, organ systems, thinking, and behavior.
Different levels of alcohol consumption have varying health implications.
Hangover remedies and genetic differences related to alcoholism are discussed.
The podcast aims to provide informative insights without judgment, allowing listeners to make informed decisions about alcohol use.
Study on impact of alcohol consumption on brain gray and white matter volumes.
04:25
Gray matter contains neurons and cell bodies, while white matter consists of connections and fibers.
Over 30,000 middle-aged and older adults in the UK were involved in the study.
Even low to moderate alcohol consumption can lead to thinning of the neocortex, indicating neuron loss.
Alcohol consumption, even in small amounts, can have detrimental effects on brain health.
Impact of Alcohol Consumption on Brain Health.
05:44
Chronic alcohol intake, even at low levels, can lead to brain degeneration.
Consuming just seven glasses of wine per week can cause neuronal loss.
Importance of maintaining steady blood glucose levels for energy and focus throughout the day is highlighted.
Understanding how food and exercise affect blood glucose levels is emphasized for overall health and well-being.
Importance of temperature regulation for quality sleep and performance.
08:46
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Maintaining the right temperature is crucial for deep sleep and overall health.
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History and Effects of Alcohol Consumption.
10:49
Alcohol has been used for both nutritional and medicinal purposes for thousands of years.
The Chinese were the first to distill alcohol in the first century.
Alcohol can kill bacteria but also destroys beneficial gut bacteria, leading to issues like leaky gut syndrome.
Despite negative effects, many continue to consume alcohol for its intoxicating effects, which ultimately leads to feelings of unhappiness and stress.
Alcohol easily passes into cells and tissues due to being water-soluble and fat-soluble.
14:17
Ethanol, the type of alcohol humans consume, is toxic and causes damage and stress to cells.
Ingested ethanol must be converted due to its toxicity, impacting a molecule called NAD.
Alcohol's harmful effects on organs and cells are due to its easy access to various parts of the body.
Impact of NAD levels on lifespan and controversial research.
15:37
NAD pathway converts ethanol into toxic acetaldehyde and then into acetate, damaging cells.
Liver cells crucial in ethanol conversion but face damage.
Alcohol is considered a poison with no nutritive value, providing empty calories.
Sugar is a better fuel source than alcohol or acetate.
Effects of Alcohol on Neural Circuits and Predisposition to Alcoholism.
18:28
Regular drinkers or those predisposed to alcoholism feel energized and good for longer periods when they drink.
Different effects of alcohol can predict predisposition to alcoholism, with people feeling alert and excited needing to be cautious about their risk.
Alcohol impairs motor function and judgment in non-regular drinkers.
The body processes alcohol in the gut and liver, leading to various effects on the body.
Effects of Alcohol on the Brain
21:55
Alcohol crosses the blood-brain barrier easily and impacts neurons and glial cells, leading to suppressed activity in the prefrontal cortex.
This suppression can cause increased voice volume, reduced speech modulation, heightened gesticulation, frequent standing up and sitting down, and spontaneous dancing.
The prefrontal cortex usually provides inhibition through GABA neurotransmitters, but alcohol reduces this inhibition, resulting in impulsive behaviors and thought patterns.
Alcohol affects memory by suppressing neural networks and diminishing the prefrontal cortex.
24:01
Drinking increases impulsive behavior by reducing top-down inhibition.
Regular drinking can lead to changes in neural circuits, strengthening habitual and impulsive behavior.
Chronic drinking, even on a weekly basis, can result in decreased inhibition and increased impulsivity.
Changes in neural circuits from regular drinking can significantly impact behavior and decision-making.
Effects of Alcohol on Neural Circuits.
26:59
Alcohol consumption leads to changes in neural circuits, increasing synapses that control habitual behavior.
These changes are reversible with abstinence of 2-6 months.
Chronic heavy drinking can have long-lasting impacts on brain circuitry.
Neural circuits can be remodified back to their original state with extended abstinence, influenced by factors like body weight, tolerance, genetic background, and food consumption.
The impact of eating before or while drinking alcohol on absorption and effects.
30:06
Carbohydrates, fats, and proteins in a meal can slow alcohol absorption into the bloodstream.
Eating food can blunt the effects of alcohol but does not sober you up faster if already drunk.
Serotonin levels are not directly linked to depression, contrary to previous beliefs.
SSRIs that increase serotonin levels are still effective in treating depression.
SSRIs and alcohol affect mood by altering neural circuits rather than directly increasing serotonin levels.
32:31
SSRIs like Prozac and Zoloft change neural circuits involved in mood by increasing serotonin.
Alcohol initially disrupts mood by acting as a toxin at synapses, making them hyperactive.
As alcohol wears off, serotonin levels drop and circuit activity decreases, leading to decreased mood.
Individuals may seek more alcohol to restore feelings of well-being, highlighting the importance of understanding the effects of alcohol and SSRIs on neural circuits and mood regulation.
Effects of Alcohol Consumption on Alertness and Motor Coordination.
34:27
Alcohol consumption can lead to decreased alertness and impaired motor coordination as the forebrain shuts down, causing slurred speech and impaired movement.
Some individuals, especially chronic drinkers or those with specific gene variants, may experience increased alertness and euphoria with more drinks.
Certain individuals have a higher alcohol tolerance, allowing them to consume more before passing out.
Understanding personal predispositions to alcoholism is crucial in preventing excessive drinking and associated risks, such as blackout behavior.
Alcohol's impact on memory formation can lead to blackouts where individuals have no recollection of events despite being awake.
37:06
Chronic blackout drinking can indicate a predisposition for alcoholism, with long-lasting effects on the brain.
Different responses to alcohol, such as sedation or alertness, can predict susceptibility to alcoholism.
Alcohol alters the relationship between the hypothalamus, pituitary gland, and adrenals, affecting behaviors like rage, sex drive, and temperature regulation.
The hypothalamus sends signals to the pituitary gland, which can be disrupted by alcohol, impacting various bodily functions.
Impact of Alcohol on Cortisol Release
40:10
Alcohol consumption can lead to increased cortisol release from the adrenal glands, causing more stress and anxiety when not drinking.
The hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis plays a crucial role in maintaining physiological balance in response to stress.
Regular alcohol consumption, even in moderate amounts, can disrupt this axis and lead to elevated cortisol levels.
Understanding the impact of alcohol on cortisol release is essential for managing stress and anxiety levels.
Effects of chronic alcohol consumption on neural and hormone circuitry.
43:19
Chronic alcohol consumption leads to increased stress and diminished mood when not drinking.
Changes in neural and hormone circuitry can persist long-term, causing individuals to crave alcohol to alleviate stress.
Common drinking patterns, like having multiple drinks in social settings, can impact neural circuitry.
It's important to be aware of the potential long-term consequences of alcohol consumption.
Genetic and environmental factors both play a role in alcoholism.
46:22
Chronic alcohol usage can alter genes related to serotonin receptors, GABA receptors, and the HPA axis.
Environment, social settings, trauma, and self-medication can influence alcohol abuse.
Genetic predisposition combined with environmental factors can increase the risk of alcoholism.
Understanding the genetic pathways involved in alcohol addiction is important for developing effective prevention and treatment methods.
Factors contributing to alcohol use disorders include receptor synthesis pathways, GABA, HPA axis, and environmental pressures.
47:21
Genetic variations in alcohol dehydrogenase enzyme impact alcohol metabolism and individual responses to alcohol consumption.
Individuals with low alcohol dehydrogenase may experience adverse effects such as redness and sickness after drinking alcohol.
Cultures with high alcohol dehydrogenase activity may be able to drink more and convert alcohol to a non-toxic form, potentially leading to increased alcoholism.
Genetic predisposition and environmental factors, including family history, play significant roles in the development of alcoholism.
Early onset of drinking increases the risk of alcohol dependence.
50:38
Delaying the first drink until legal age reduces the likelihood of alcohol use disorder.
Genetics and age of drinking onset are key factors in predisposition to alcoholism.
Neural changes and hormonal imbalances from early drinking can lead to chronic alcohol consumption.
Alcohol use disorder is influenced by genetic factors and the timing of alcohol initiation.
Influence of gene variants on alcohol use disorder onset.
52:11
Delay in drinking can lower risk of alcoholism.
Genes and environments play a significant role in alcoholism, not just a single gene.
Importance of understanding chronic drinking patterns on health, particularly the gut-liver-brain axis.
Communication between gut and brain through nerve cells and chemical signaling is crucial in alcohol-related effects.
Effects of Alcohol on Gut Microbiome
56:24
Alcohol metabolism in the liver disrupts the gut microbiome and kills healthy gut bacteria.
Metabolism of alcohol in the liver is proinflammatory, releasing cytokines.
Disruption of the gut microbiota leads to leaky gut.
Bad bacteria passing into the bloodstream creates a two-hit model with negative health effects.
Impact of Alcohol on Gut Microbiota and Brain Function.
58:25
Alcohol does not effectively kill bad bacteria in the gut as it escapes before disrupting them, leading to leaks in the gut wall.
This process triggers the release of bad bacteria and inflammatory cytokines, impacting neural circuits that regulate alcohol intake.
The disruption causes increased alcohol consumption, inflammation in the brain and body, and a desire to drink more.
Replenishing the gut microbiota may offer hope for recovery in the detrimental effects on the gut-liver-brain axis caused by alcohol use disorder.
Consuming fermented foods like kimchi and sauerkraut can improve gut microbiota and reduce inflammation.
01:00:28
Regular intake of two to four servings of low-sugar fermented foods daily can benefit gut health and reduce inflammatory markers.
These dietary changes could potentially aid in repairing the gut microbiome.
While the impact on alcohol use disorder is not studied, there is a connection between gut health, inflammation, and alcohol-related effects, suggesting potential benefits for overall health and recovery.
Weaning off alcohol can lead to increased cortisol levels, resulting in heightened stress and anxiety.
01:03:12
Hangover symptoms, such as headache, nausea, and 'hangxiety' (anxiety after drinking), are explored.
The video recommends visiting hubermanlab.com for tools and resources to manage stress and anxiety.
Understanding the physiological impact of alcohol on the body is crucial for overall well-being.
Alcohol disrupts sleep architecture, leading to poor quality rest.
01:06:50
Even one glass of alcohol impacts sleep, causing a pseudo-sleep state with frequent awakenings.
Hangovers are worsened by excessive alcohol consumption, hindering the body's ability to achieve quality sleep.
Alcohol damages the gut microbiome, leading to leaky gut.
Moderation and understanding the effects of alcohol on the body are crucial for maintaining sleep quality and overall health.
Benefits of low-sugar fermented foods, probiotics, and prebiotics for supporting the gut microbiome and alleviating hangover symptoms.
01:08:51
Hangovers and headaches are caused by vasoconstriction from alcohol, which can be countered by vasodilation induced by more alcohol consumption.
Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs like aspirin can help with headaches but may have negative effects on the liver, immune system, and gut microbiome.
It is important to research the effects of these drugs before taking them.
Alcohol metabolism burdens the liver by converting acetaldehyde into acetate.
Ways to Relieve Hangovers
01:11:31
Debunks myths about consuming more alcohol to alleviate hangovers.
Cold exposure, such as taking a cold shower, can increase epinephrine levels in the bloodstream, aiding in alcohol clearance.
Evidence suggests potential benefits of cold exposure for hangover relief.
Emphasizes the importance of not using more alcohol to treat hangovers and explores alternative methods like deliberate cold exposure for potential relief.
Benefits of deliberate cold exposure for reducing hangover effects.
01:13:34
Cold exposure spikes adrenaline and dopamine levels, accelerating recovery.
Safety is crucial when using cold exposure techniques due to alcohol disrupting temperature regulation.
Getting into cold water while intoxicated is extremely dangerous and can lead to hypothermia.
Cold exposure without alcohol initially lowers body temperature but then rebounds, potentially aiding hangover recovery with caution and safety.
Cold exposure can help relieve hangovers by increasing epinephrine, adrenaline, and dopamine levels.
01:15:52
Caution should be taken to not expose oneself to cold water when intoxicated, as it can lead to dangerously low core body temperature.
Hangovers involve dehydration and disrupted electrolyte balance due to alcohol's diuretic effects.
Even moderate alcohol consumption can impact fluid and electrolyte balance, affecting the vasopressin pathway.
Proper electrolyte intake is essential for alleviating hangover symptoms.
Importance of Electrolyte Balance in Preventing Hangovers
01:18:42
Replenishing electrolytes, maintaining gut microbiome, and regulating neurotransmitters are essential for minimizing alcohol-induced hangovers.
No single remedy is a cure-all for hangovers, but a combination of effective strategies is recommended.
Different types of alcohol can impact the severity of hangovers, with high sugar content drinks potentially causing more issues.
The likelihood of causing hangovers varies among different alcoholic drinks.
01:23:29
Brandy is the most likely to cause hangovers due to its high congener content.
Drinks with congeners, such as nitrites, contribute to the severity of hangovers.
Contrary to popular belief, ethanol diluted in orange juice is low on the list of hangover-inducing drinks.
The hierarchy of drinks causing hangovers ranges from beer to brandy, with brandy having the highest congener content.
The importance of supporting a healthy gut microbiome to reduce hangover symptoms.
01:24:12
Studies on probiotics and prebiotics after drinking can help understand their effects on hangovers.
Hangovers are a multi-organ and multi-tissue phenomenon that requires a holistic approach.
Tolerance to alcohol is complex, with over 10 different types including functional, chronic, rapid, metabolic, and psychological tolerance.
A recent review in the journal 'Pharmacology Biochemistry and Behavior' covers various aspects of tolerance for more in-depth knowledge.
Effects of Alcohol on Neurotransmitter Systems.
01:27:27
Alcohol tolerance leads to reduced effects over time due to changes in neurotransmitter systems caused by alcohol toxicity.
GABA, dopamine, and serotonin are affected by alcohol consumption.
Dopamine plays a key role in motivation and craving, leading to euphoria and increased energy at the start of alcohol consumption.
Initial increase in dopamine and serotonin levels leads to well-being, followed by a gradual reduction, prompting continued drinking for the short-lived feel-good effect.
Tolerance to alcohol and its effects on dopamine and serotonin release.
01:31:11
Repeated alcohol consumption leads to decreased feel-good chemicals and increased negative effects.
Tolerance drives individuals to drink more to regain well-being, but they experience prolonged punishment and malaise.
Increased alcohol dehydrogenase production with increased drinking leads to faster metabolism but not improved well-being.
Tolerance is fueled by a cycle of seeking dopamine and serotonin activation through increased alcohol consumption, exacerbating negative effects and decreasing positive feelings.
Effects of Alcohol on the Brain and Health Benefits of Red Wine
01:32:40
Drinking alcohol disrupts dopamine and serotonergic systems, leading to increased pain and punishment signals in the brain.
Abstaining from alcohol allows these systems to reset, but the duration varies based on individual drinking habits.
People with alcohol use disorder should aim to quit completely, as going cold turkey can be dangerous for heavy drinkers.
Red wine's health benefits from resveratrol are outweighed by negative effects, requiring a high intake; however, moderate consumption may have some health benefits through stress reduction.
Negative effects of red wine consumption on brain structure and cancer risk.
01:35:32
Resveratrol is not a good reason to drink red wine.
Alcohol consumption, regardless of type, can reduce brain thickness and cortical thickness.
Alcohol consumption has a dose-dependent effect on brain structure, affecting neurons and connections.
Heavy alcohol consumption is associated with increased cancer risk, particularly breast cancer, due to alterations in DNA methylation and gene expression.
Alcohol intake is linked to an increased risk of breast cancer in women.
01:39:38
Every 10 grams of alcohol consumed results in a 4 to 13% risk increase.
Different countries have varying alcohol content in drinks, with Russia having the highest concentration.
The more alcohol consumed, the higher the cancer risk, particularly breast cancer, due to its effects on gene expression and cells.
Prohibition in the US reduced alcohol-related health issues but also led to increased crime.
Alcohol consumption can lead to mutations that promote tumor growth and interfere with cancer-suppressing molecules.
01:41:51
Even low to moderate alcohol intake can be harmful, particularly for breast cancer risk.
Consuming 10-15 grams of alcohol daily is equivalent to smoking 10 cigarettes in terms of cancer risk.
Nicotine consumption from vaping or cigarettes is known to cause lung cancer and other types of cancer.
Alcohol consumption is linked to an increased risk of cancer, especially breast cancer.
01:44:17
Consuming 10 grams of alcohol per day increases the risk by 4 to 13%.
Folate and B vitamins, such as B12, can help counteract alcohol's negative effects on cancer predisposition.
Hangover supplements containing folate and B12 could indirectly impact cancer risk due to alcohol's disruption of B vitamin pathways.
More research is needed to fully comprehend the connection between alcohol, B vitamins, and cancer formation.
Importance of adequate folate and B12 intake in offsetting cancer risk from alcohol consumption.
01:47:21
Pregnant women advised to completely avoid alcohol to prevent fetal alcohol syndrome and associated developmental issues.
Alcohol equally harmful to fetuses due to disruption of crucial cellular processes for embryonic development.
Strict control and redundancy in gene expression necessary for healthy embryo development, alcohol interferes with these processes.
Alcohol mutates DNA and interferes with cell cycle checkpoints, posing a severe threat to fetal development.
The impact of alcohol intake during pregnancy on fetal alcohol syndrome and hormone levels.
01:50:40
Alcohol consumption during pregnancy can result in fetal alcohol syndrome, affecting cranial facial development and brain function.
Hormones like testosterone and estrogen, important for libido, sexual development, and cognition, can be influenced by alcohol intake.
Low estrogen levels from alcohol consumption can disrupt cognition and joint health.
Chronic alcohol intake and alcohol use disorder have different effects on hormones, emphasizing the need to work with professionals to prevent harm to the fetus.
Effects of Alcohol Metabolites on Testosterone and Estrogen Conversion
01:53:04
Alcohol metabolites can increase the conversion of testosterone to estrogen in various tissues, potentially leading to health risks like estrogen-related cancers.
Abnormal testosterone to estrogen conversion in males can cause gynecomastia and other negative effects.
Studies show conflicting results on alcohol's effects on testosterone levels, emphasizing the need to consider acute versus chronic exposure.
Regular alcohol ingestion is likely to raise estrogen levels, based on literature reviews focusing on humans.
Effects of Alcohol on Hormone Levels
01:55:35
Alcohol consumption increases aromatase enzyme, leading to higher estrogen levels in the body.
There is no safe threshold for alcohol consumption as it is a known toxin to the body.
Low to moderate alcohol intake is better for health compared to high consumption levels.
Studies suggest that zero alcohol consumption is optimal for overall health due to the negative effects of alcohol on the body.
Effects of alcohol on the gut microbiome and stress levels.
01:57:34
Low to moderate alcohol consumption can increase stress levels.
Importance of managing stress without alcohol and resources to offset negative effects.
Encouragement to subscribe to YouTube channel and podcast for support.
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02:00:03
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