Unfortunately, the pandemic has caused many people to feel depressed and anxious. Drinking at this time may actually lower immunity and make a person more susceptible to the disease. When the balance is disrupted, it becomes difficult for the good bacteria in the gut to overcome the bad bacteria. Also, excess alcohol weakens the stomach’s lining, which allows dangerous microorganisms to enter other parts of the body. Drinking alcohol is a major factor in the disruption of the digestive system. As a result, a person experiences gastrointestinal challenges that lower immunity.

Their article also highlights how the combined effect of alcohol and injury causes greater disruption to immune function than either challenge alone. Alcohol also causes damage to the cells in the outside layer of your stomach and intestines. As a result, bacteria may leak from the GI tract into your bloodstream, which can itself make you sick. Also, bacteria that escape this area can change the immune system in your liver, which can lead to inflammation and, potentially, alcoholic liver disease. Alcohol alters the makeup of your gut microbiome — home to trillions of microorganisms performing several crucial roles for your health — and affects those microorganisms’ ability to support your immune system.

Long-term effects of alcohol misuse

Fresh produce and nuts and seeds pack a lot of zinc, beta-carotene, vitamins A, C, and E, and other nutrients you need for a healthy body. Plant-based foods also fill you up with fiber, which helps lower your body fat percentage, which can strengthen your immune response. Alcohol-mediated effects on CD8+ T-cell function also have been linked to impaired immunity in the lung in response to influenza infection (Meyerholz et al. 2008). Whether the increased viral load measured in SIV-infected chronic alcohol-fed macaques can be attributed to diminished CD8+ T-cell function remains to be established (Bagby et al. 2006; Kumar et al. 2005). Alcohol’s effects on the structural host defense of the gastrointestinal (GI) tract.

does alcohol hurt your immune system

In contrast to the innate immunity, which can be induced by any kind of antigen, adaptive immune responses are specific to individual antigens. In other words, each T cell or B cell can be activated only by one specific antigen. An antigen-specific T-cell response is initiated by interactions between antigen presenting cells (such as DCs) and naïve T cells and is optimized by engagement of co-stimulatory molecules and cytokines for antigen-specific T-cell activation (Mogensen 2009; Newton and Dixit 2012).

Modulation of Adaptive Immunity by Alcohol

In contrast to the effects of high ethanol doses, human monocytes isolated after 30 days of moderate beer consumption (330mL for women and 660mL for men) exhibited increased phagocytic, oxidative burst, and intracellular bactericidal activity when incubated with fluorescence-labeled E. Recently, it was reported that a single episode of binge alcohol consumption in alcohol-experienced human volunteers (men and women) initially (within the first 20 min) increased total number of peripheral blood monocytes and LPS-induced TNF-α production when blood alcohol levels were ~130mg/dL. However, similarly to the in vitro studies described above, at 2 and 5 hours post-binge the numbers of circulating monocytes were reduced and levels of antiinflammatory IL-10 levels were increased (Afshar, Richards et al. 2014). Not only does the immune system mediate alcohol-related injury and illness, but a growing body of literature also indicates that immune signaling in the brain may contribute to alcohol use disorder.

Thiamine, also known as vitamin B1, contributes to the activation of T cells, suppresses oxidative stress-induced NFκB activation in macrophages, and serves as an anti-inflammatory factor (Manzetti, Zhang et does alcohol weaken your immune system al. 2014). Antigen-specific responses are decreased in folate-deficient humans and animals (Dhur, Galan et al. 1991). Alcohol consumption does not have to be chronic to have negative health consequences.

Effects of alcohol on adaptive immunity

Often, the alcohol-provoked lung damage goes undetected until a second insult, such as a respiratory infection, leads to more severe lung diseases than those seen in nondrinkers. Clinicians have long observed an association between excessive alcohol consumption and adverse immune-related health effects such as susceptibility to pneumonia. The effects of alcohol on both cell-mediated and humoral immunity have been well-documented since the early 1960s, wherein researchers found that alcohol abuse significantly reduced both CD4 and CD8 T-cell counts.