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Episode 24: Does Alcohol Impact Gut Health?

Episode 24: Does Alcohol Impact Gut Health?

The alcohol in hand sanitizer kills germs, but does that nightly glass of wine or celebratory shot of tequila have the same killer impact on our gut microbes? On this episode, Andrea talks with Ruari Fairbairns and Dr. Mahmoud Ghannoum about the impact of alcohol on the microbiome.   

Ruari is no stranger to drinking. As a Scottish lad, Ruari proudly upheld the drinking stereotype until he decided to take a break from alcohol. The short shift fundamentally changed his life - so much so that he’s now the co-founder of One Year No Beer, an online challenge designed to help participants skip the sauce. Since inception, OYNB has helped over 50,000 people in 90 countries transform their relationship with alcohol.   

On this show, he talks about how bypassing beer allowed him to resolve his chronic IBS and dishes on how OYNB came to be. Coloring in the scientific details of what’s actually going on in the gut when we drink is our resident scientist, Dr. Ghannoum. He explains how and why drinking causes gut dysfunction, including alcohol’s impact on the gut-brain connection.   

As a gift to our listeners, Ruari is offering 30% off the OYNB challenge. Head to and enter code BIO30 at checkout to get started. Stay up-to-date with Ruari and his team on Instagram @oneyearnobeer, or Facebook at


On this show, you’ll learn: 

  • The backstory of “One Year No Beer” (1:15)
  • The primal urges that affect why we drink (9:03)
  • How long Ruari thought about stopping drinking before he did it (10:16)
  • What happens in the gut when we drink alcohol and when we stop (12:09)
  • How and why issues occur (15:52)
  • How alcohol impacts the gut-brain connection (20:15)
  • How quickly changes happen when drinking stops (26:59)
  • The huge transformations at “One Year No Beer” (29:41)

BIOHM gut quiz


Andrea Wien: This episode of the microbiome report is brought to you by and Dr. Mahmoud Ghannoum's new book, Total Gut Balance: Fix Your Microbiome Fast For Complete Digestive Wellness. I'm your host, Andrea Wien, and today we're talking about a favorite pastime, drinking. I'm thrilled to have two guests joining me today. Microbiome researcher, Dr. Mahmoud Ghannoum and Ruari Fairbairns, Founder Of One Year No Beer, an online challenge to give up drinking for 90 days. Since inception One Year No Beer has helped over 50,000 people in 90 countries transform their relationship with alcohol.

This show is especially fun because while Ruari talked about the inception of the company and how the IBS completely vanished when he gave up alcohol, Dr. Ghannoum colored in the details about what's physiologically happening in our guts when we drink. At the end of this episode, stay tuned for 30% off for a One Year No Beer Challenge. Now let's get to the show. Ruari, thank you so much for coming on the show.

Ruari Fairbairns: Thank you for having me on the show. It's great to be here.

Andrea Wien: To start. I thought you could tell our listeners a bit about your backstory and your company, One Year No Beer.

Ruari Fairbairns: Yeah, absolutely. So I'll go back into, well, not into the dark ages, but close. No, I was born on the west coast of Scotland. An Island called the Isle of Mull, beautiful island, very picturesque, but nothing to do, but drink. No, I didn't start off life drinking, but it was just around me. I really struggled at a young age. I had ADHD and, six years old, the choice was counseling or drugs, my parents chose counseling. I didn't really understand what was going on in my brain, but I knew that I was going to do something. I wrote a letter to Richard Branson when I was 14 years old, and I said, I'm going to change the world one day, and I'm looking forward to having lunch with you. Now Richard never responded, so lunch is definitely on him.

At 15, I set off on this adventure, and I left school before the legal age and I started my first business. By the time I was 25 years old, I'd set up five different companies, ranging from a tech key start-up to a sales outsource, all sorts of things, I was desperate to find out what that impact that I knew I was going to have, was. Randomly through the TV program, The Apprentice, which by the way, for the listeners in the U.S. There, we invented that in the U.K., like all good things, no, I'm joking. But through the TV program, The Apprentice, I applied for it and it got accepted, and I sat outside for the beginning of the show. And after four hours of waiting, the producers came out and said, look, we can't explain it, but you're not going on the show this time. And rather randomly, shortly, a day or two after that, I bumped into an oil broker while I was down in London and he got me a job as an oil broker.

Now two worlds collided for me, partying and being successful. I'd always been very good at partying and here as an oil broker, the more I partied, the more successful I was. Now I originally started as a crude oil broker and I would be entertaining clients and doing all that stuff, and then I set up the jet desk, and in doing this, I've met my wife and things were starting to wear thin. I had some of these niggling health issues, which I didn't really attribute to alcohol, I just maybe attributed to distress or poor diet, things like that. But independently I was seeking a counselor and I had this IBS that wouldn't go away, and all these sort of things. All the recommendations, my boss told me I was committing commercial suicide, my friends were like, we'll disown you. I almost had to say goodbye to the concept of being a top broker.

I had to quit the desire to be the world's top broker, because maybe I thought that that was the impact I was here to have stupidly, to take a break from booze, but I did it. I took a break from alcohol for 90 days, and I cannot believe...I just can't tell you what a difference it made...The weight lifted off, my eyes brightened, I felt happier. I actually went for a full year and over that year, I went from 28% body fat down to 10.6. I ran a half marathon in 1:34:40, 30, my IBS disappeared. I'd seen doctors, I'd been to Chinese medicine, nope, all I needed to do was stop drinking. So there were all of these health issues, mental health problems, all of these things that disappeared just by removing alcohol.

And I got together with Andy, who used to work at the same oil broking firm as me, and he'd just done six months alcohol free, and he put down his success. He lost way more weight than I did, he lost three stone. And we put down...We were like, nobody is talking about the advantages of taking a break from booze. Like to not drink, you need to go and submit yourself to God and admit you're powerless and an addict, or you need to be completely stigmatized, outcast from society, why would you ever do that? And yet here were all these benefits.

So we sat down and we said, how do we do this? What do we do? Let's dress it up as a challenge. Think Spartan or Tough Mudder. It's just a challenge, it's cool, you can be proud of it, talk about it in the pub..."Hey, I'm doing this challenge, 28 days, no booze". That's really where we came up with One Year No Beer. We launched in 2016. When we originally launched it, we gave it all away for free. We were hoping to reach all across the world, and I don't know about you, but free is not free. Free is very expensive. Cut the long story short, it spread all over the world. We had a big following in Brazil and China, in non drinking countries. We were like, this is unbelievable, and we started getting letters back. People, I mean handwritten letter from a son.

I'd be reading this stuff out to my wife in bed at night, going, "Oh my God, I can't believe this. Look at what the simple thing is doing, it's totally transforming lives. People are losing weight, getting fit, it becomes a platform to transform other areas of their life". So since then, we're now over 50,000 members in 90 countries. When I first started thinking about changing my relationship with alcohol, it actually came through doing Headspace. So I started doing meditation on the train and this meditation started making me think about alcohol differently. Then I changed my relationship with booze. In 2017, I sent some tweets to journalists, and off the back of it, we got featured on BBC World News in over 200 countries. And a friend of mine called me up and he said, "Ruari, what you're doing is amazing. I'm in Italy and I'm meeting the Dalai Lama next week, would you like to meet him?". "Wow, yeah, let me check my diary". No I'm joking.

So a week later I sat down with the Dalai Lama and I spent two days there. We had breakfast with him in the morning, we stayed in his hotel, none of this stuff should have happened. Like shifts were going on. And for me that's when I knew the purpose. That's when I understood all of those things were going on when I was younger. The letter to Richard Branson, the failed businesses, everything led me to this moment. So I handed in my notice as an oil broker on the Monday morning and I got fully invested into One Year No Beer.

So now we are very focused on improving our products, improving how we transform people's relationship with alcohol. At the core of what we do is community, but ultimately what we're doing is...Anyone can not drink, anyone can abstain from alcohol, but we help people to change their relationship with alcohol. So that once they come through it, they don't really want to drink as much or at all anymore. And it's not an abstinence program, press the reset button. So that's what we're up to.

Andrea Wien: I love that, it's not about never drinking again. So my husband and I went on a very similar journey of our own. We lived in Australia for a couple of years and as you may know, Australians love to drink. And so, when we came back we felt a bit that we just had to dry out. And so we did six months, no alcohol. And I think the hardest part was, like you're saying, the expectation or the perception of what it would be versus the actual reality. And sure, the first few parties or get togethers were a little bit awkward or difficult just because you're so used to having that drink in your hand, right? Even if it's just socializing, the first thing someone does when they walk into a bar or a party is go to get a drink.

So getting past that mental hurdle, and once that was surpassed, which really didn't take very long. It was quite easy, which is surprising to a lot of people. And I think they feel sometimes guilty about their, when you're not drinking. So that also created a little bit of an interesting dynamic, but very surmountable once you're in it.

Ruari Fairbairns: There are some very key things, primal things that are going on. This is why community is so important because we are brought up all the way through our lives, since we're in nappies, we watch aunties, uncles, friends, parents celebrate commiserate, congratulate every single opportunity, booze. But also what we're doing is we're demonstrating something really key and that's tribalism. So the tribalism, our tribe drinks alcohol, that's what we do, society does that. Now, if you want to remove yourself from the tribal, imagine what would happen back in the day? Like what, why are you leaving? What's wrong with you? Why, what's wrong with the tribe? They take it personally and they take it fearfully. Like, why are you changing? And you see that every time, people trying to drag you back into this tribe.

And, and that's why One Year No Beer has been so phenomenally successful, is because if you want to remove yourself from a tribe, you have to have a tribe to belong to. And by having a tribe belong to when you're at the wedding or at that event, and somebody says, "Come on, just have one", you go, "No, it's okay", and inside you're not being triggered.

Andrea Wien: Yeah, absolutely. How long did you think about giving up alcohol for a period of time before you actually did it? You mentioned you'd done some meditation. I'm curious, how long was that process?

Ruari Fairbairns: I think there was probably two years of thinking in the back of my mind, scratching. "This is not right, I want to change something", and I'd done dry January a couple of times, so in U.K., that's very popular to not drink in January. And the thing about what we've realized really is when a lot of people trying to abstain for a month, what they do is they say, "I'm going to abstain for a month. Now I'm going to go through my diary, cancel all my social engagements. I'm going to avoid all my friends. I won't pick up my phone, I'm going to hide like a hermit, and I'm going to count down the milliseconds until the first of the next month so I can go and get absolutely smashed again". Now, all that does is reaffirm the limiting belief. All that psychological belief that alcohol is pertinent to your life, that you need it, that you need it to exist, you need it to have fun, to be successful, to relax, but you don't need it for any of those things. It's a drug.

So that's the biggest part that we help people. We help people to find what they really want, what they're really looking for. Is it relaxation? Is it to unwind and distress? Well, there's much better ways than putting ethanol into your body. And I think also when you...I love saying to people, have you ever Googled alcohol? If you Google, what is alcohol, it's a colorless flammable, volatile liquid also known as ethanol, used as a fuel source. It's like gasoline. Do you see people running around desperate to put gasoline down their throats? No, you don't. It's a mindset shift for people.

Andrea Wien: Absolutely. So you've brought it up and we'll switch gears a little bit now and talk to Dr. Ghannoum. You mentioned that you had IBS before you started this whole journey, and by giving up alcohol for even a short period of time, those symptoms abated, they went away. So Dr Ghannoum, let's talk a bit about what's actually going on. Why is that the case? What's happening in the gut when we drink alcohol? What happens when we take alcohol away?

Dr. Mahmoud Ghannoum: Well, first before I start talking about this, I would like to say you had a lovely story. I tell you, being in Scotland and visiting Scotland and the way as you say, the tribe in Scotland love to drink. For you to be there and establish what you established is absolutely fantastic. I really appreciate that. I tell you something, I really felt very happy to hear what you said. So now I'll answer your...Andrea, with respect to what happens with alcohol. First of all, studies to look at how alcohol affect the microbiome, which as you know, it's microorganisms or both bacteria and fungus that live in our gut. They live there and they are imbalanced, and then once they are imbalanced, we have really good habits. However, studies have shown that when you take alcohol, you cause imbalance and sometimes this is called dysbiosis. This is the scientific term for imbalance.

Now a lot of these studies, they come from animals as well as humans. If we look at the studies, which looked at what alcohol does to you using animals, and as I mentioned, the first thing is, does it cause imbalance or dysbiosis, but also particularly it caused an increase in small intestinal, bacterial overgrowth. In other words, increase in the number of bacteria in your gut start to grow beyond control, and this is referred to usually as SIBO, which is again...Refers to an increase in the growth of microorganisms in your gut, which we want something to be well balanced. Having too much of something is always like drinking alcohol. Too much of a drinking alcohol has its side effects. And this is what happens in our guts. In particular, when you drink alcohol, the studies in animals have shown that it can change the balance by decrease in a fiber called firmicutes, which is a good guy sort of. At the same time we have an increase in another phylum called proteobacteria, And this is the bad guy. And this proteobacteria have been associated with inflammation. So you have underlying inflammation in your system.

So you can see easily, we are increasing the bug or the microorganisms that cause inflammation, and we are decreasing the good ones as at the same time. So what does that mean? When you have this imbalance, what we are having is that we can affect the lining of our gut, where you have to start having a breakage in the barrier. You know our intestine is very nicely, should be a healthy and tight junction, which means it's all very nicely secure. It does not allow things to go into our blood haphazardly. So when you have this overgrowth, you are causing this barrier to break down, and with that, we start to have some issues.

Andrea Wien: I want to come back to that, but I want to ask why is that happening? Is the alcohol...Is it because it's a toxin? Is it producing some type of by-product? Is it because it's breaking down into sugars that the proteobacteria like? What is the actual component of alcohol that is causing the issue?

Dr. Mahmoud Ghannoum: It's very simple. If you think about it, we all go and buy alcohol wipes to kill microorganisms. So obviously when you have too much alcohol, you are killing very simply this organism. Please go ahead Ruari.

Ruari Fairbairns: No. I mean that, you just went over that very quickly, but that's a good point. We buy alcohol wipes. The alcohol wipes are to kill the bacteria. What do you think that does inside your body?

Dr. Mahmoud Ghannoum: Exactly, you are absolutely right. So what it does, it kills the good bacteria or the beneficial bacteria, as well as the beneficial fungi that make our lining healthy and wet. So when you kill the good ones, what's happening...As I mentioned, we have an increase in the bad ones, and that's where the trouble start happening.

Andrea Wien: I think I've heard from people too, that there was a study done. I think it was in Spain, where they looked at people who had had food poisoning at a wedding, I think it was. And the people who had drank the most actually had the lower incidents of food poisoning. Now that's not to say that people should be drinking more at a wedding because they might get food poisoning, but it does back up this point of it's killing the bacteria. And so once it gets into the gut, it's maybe being willy nilly about which ones it's killing and which ones it's not. And because so many people perhaps already have a bit of dysbiosis based on the diet and lifestyle that they maybe partaking in, it's just creating an even more hospitable environment for those bad guys.

Dr. Mahmoud Ghannoum: Absolutely. This is all conducted. And as you rightly mentioned, that environment as well as diet in particular could also cause this dysbiosis. So imagine you are eating Western diet with all the fat stuff and all the fries, and at the same time drinking. You really are creating a very hostile environment in your gut, which is not good news.

Ruari Fairbairns: Just playing with that one for a minute. Everybody seems to have a story. Everybody's got a story of the guy who's drank three bottles of wine a day and had fish and chips, deep fried Mars bars all day of the week, every day for breakfast. And yet he lives to 90 years old. And so if this stuff is so bad for the gut, how are we able to exist?

Dr. Mahmoud Ghannoum: Very good question. Why? Because sometimes we as scientists try to separate things and make them simple. So we say, okay, if we show it changed the microbiome, this will happen. However, there is genetical factor. There is your way of life. You are stressed all the time. So it's not just one simple factor. However, this factor, which is the gut microbiome, plays a major role. So even though you may eat everything you want, which is not really very healthy, you may still live till the nineties. Having said that, I don't know how well you are living tonight is, maybe you don't die. But is still suffering, so I don't know.

Andrea Wien: We've learned so much now too, about the mind and the mind's role of health. And we're starting to get so much more in depth on what that means, but perhaps the guy who's eating the fish and chips and having a lot of alcohol is also having a really strong community aspect. And he's very happy with those decisions and doesn't stress out about the fact that he's making unhealthy decisions.

Ruari Fairbairns: So he's got low stress. He's very happy.

Andrea Wien: Exactly, it could be. Now you mentioned briefly about the leaky gut aspect. And I think Ruari, this goes back to the part where you said, I just felt clear, I felt I could concentrate better, I had better focus. Alcohol really impacts this gut brain connection as well. And I think it's through this leaky gut that you were talking about, Dr. Ghannoum, that once we have the leaky gut, maybe we're getting some neuro inflammation, we're having, some gut brain access issues and that's really causing these symptoms of depression, anxiety, even just fogginess. We don't even have to go to the clinical side of things, just brain fogginess and feeling weighted down. Can you talk a little bit about that?

Dr. Mahmoud Ghannoum: Oh, definitely. I mean, it's now science is clearly established that there is a bi-directional or two-way communication between our gut and the brain. We used to think only the brain tell us what to do, but now also our gut and the microorganism in our gut secrete these metabolites or small molecules, which also tell the brain what to do, so both affect each other. But if you think about it in particular, when you drink alcohol, what happens... What happens is, remember we are causing damage to our gut lining. So because of this, we'll start to see an increased level of endotoxins that goes in the blood, and the toxins as you call, as you know, they are of bacterial origin and they are, as the name is toxins. They cause issues, at the same time it allow the really increased translocation and otherwise it...Some of the bacterial products, we should not pass into our blood by having this damage. We have an increased permeability of the gut lining, allowing all these bad elements to pass through and cause health issues. And totally this is referred to a leaky gut.

Andrea Wien: And it sounds like this is happening, whether you're a casual drinker or an alcoholic or somewhere in between. It sounds like the alcohol can have this impact, even if you're like we're saying, at a wedding and you have six drinks in one night, which would be considered binge drinking. You're going to have this impact.

Dr. Mahmoud Ghannoum: No, no doubt about it. I mean, there's one point which we need to remember, which is the good news. Even though alcohol, as we mentioned, it caused this viruses. Sometimes some alcohol have compounds in it, dietary compounds like polyphenols that really are helpful, are good stuff. And because of this, I think...Of course I'm with you, we should stop drinking for some time and see the benefits of it, but at the same time, if you take a little bit of alcohol, maybe not more than one glass, three times a week, in a way you may have an increased abundance of good microorganisms, such as bifidobacteria. Studies have shown that having grad wind, for example, increase the abundance of this beneficial bacteria, which is good news.

Ruari Fairbairns: Well, there's two, there's two things I wanted to ask there. I'm fairly confident that a lot of the research that says that alcohol is good for you is not actually talking about are alcohol, it's talking about, as you say, the ingredients that surround alcohol because at the end of the day, alcohol is ethanol and I'm pretty confident there is never ever been a study that saying putting ethanol into the human body or an animal body is good for it. Correct?

Dr. Mahmoud Ghannoum: That's absolutely right. And then we talk...

Ruari Fairbairns: So I just like to draw that line there whenever anyone comes and says to me, "yeah, but it's good for you", I could go...And smack them with that one. When you're talking about the polyphenols, which comes in wine now, I'm pretty sure you can get thousands of times more from a normal, healthy diet. What other things could you eat or drink other than...That don't have ethanol in it that can give you a similar amount?

Dr. Mahmoud Ghannoum: I mean, this is a very nice question. I don't advocate for anybody to go drink and to get healthy even little bit.

Ruari Fairbairns: I'm glad we nailed that one to the pole. Just leaving it out there for anyone listening going, "Oh so I can still have that wine."

Dr. Mahmoud Ghannoum: No my friend, you have better food. You have whole food, grains...If you like some pistachio, some legumes for example, lentils, you can have fish, are from Scotland and you have very good salmon there. So go after that.

Ruari Fairbairns: And thousands of times more right? Not a small amount more, lots more times the ingredients in a good, healthy diet. So it kind of eradicates that whole piece around any of it being healthy for you.

Andrea Wien: This episode of the microbiome report is brought to you by, the website of our resident scientist, Dr. Mahmoud Ghannoum and his new book, Total Gut Balance: Fix Your Microbiome Fast For Complete Digestive Wellness. Dr Ghannoum has spent over 40 years studying our microbial communities, and has now condensed his insights into an entertaining book that dives deep into the fungal colonies in your microbiome. Why candida gets a bad rap and his advice for a diet plan, complete with recipes, that's happy for your gut based on years of clinical research. He also lays out a handy test to take, so you can find out where on the health meter your microbiome is at today. And then he gives you recommendations on how to better balance your gut in 24 hours with supplements, lifestyle, and diet. Total Gut Balance: Fix Your Microbiome Fast For Complete Digestive Wellness is now available for preorder at Amazon and Barnes & Noble. Just simply search Total Gut Balance book to find it. The book will be shipped and released on December 24th.

Ruari Fairbairns: One thing I'm really interested in is...I guess, two parts to this question, and apologies if you were going to do this Andrea, but the first part is if I'm a listener and I'm thinking, "Well, could this be because I'm drinking alcohol?". What are some of the experiences somebody would have from having leaky gut or problems in their gut due to alcohol?

Dr. Mahmoud Ghannoum: I mean, one of the first thing is inflammation. And as you know, when you have inflammation, you have pain in your gastrointestinal tract. You may have some bloating, you may have some various gastrointestinal symptoms that we associate with IVs for example, which you know very well because you have suffered from them, are manifested there.

Andrea Wien: I think what people don't realize too, is symptoms of auto immune disease. So things like rheumatoid arthritis, that is a symptom of leaky gut. We can't have any autoimmune disease without having intestinal permeability. So, so many times people...These things pop up and someone will say it came out of nowhere, right? But that's so not true. When we look at their health history, we can very clearly see the delineation of how those things came to be.

Ruari Fairbairns: Absolutely. So I guess on the flip side of that is, how quickly... What happens when you stopped drinking to the gut?

Andrea Wien: Basically when you stop drinking, number one, you are giving the chance for good microorganisms to take over, instead of the pathogenic one that caused issues and the start to break the lining. So to me, once you stop drinking, especially if you have that with a good diet, to try to support the beneficial organisms, as well as if you use some probiotic or food that have prebiotics, or these fibers, you are going to start rebuilding. It's like when something damaged and then we try to fix it slowly but surely it will go back to a normal balance situation. So in a way, there are studies that have been done, both in animals, rodents, rats, and mice, as well as in humans, which shows that when you stop, the damaging effect of alcohol, then you will start to build the inefficient organism.

Clearly you need to help them because you have been suffering with something. We need to start building our gut. My favorite it's to do with biofilm or digestive plaque, where it forms in your gut, and that will have...It will eliminate our ability to absorb the nutrients in our food. It also start to break down our gut lining and then you have the leaky gut. So once you stop alcohol, then you should start having a good diet. Try to build it back and let's do everything we have, probiotic prebiotic, and take plant proteins, for example, to start, rebuild the health or health of your microbiota, in a way to rebalance and then maintain this nice harmony in the gut.

Ruari Fairbairns: Brilliant.

Andrea Wien: So don't use stopping drinking as an excuse to go out and eat cake, is what you're saying. Don't "reward yourself" for stopping drinking by going down to the bakery and the pizza.

Ruari Fairbairns: Okay. That's actually...I want to come back on to this, but let's talk about sugar. Two parts. First part is I think we can have a conversation again about how we can make some great improvements to the experience, so people coming in for One Year No Beer with exactly those tips. So I think we can make some product improvements, so thank you very much there. Just make sure we're introducing a probiotic and bits and pieces like that. So I'll get some more advice from you. The other pieces is, I guess the reason why we have such huge transformations at One Year No Beer is the fact that we're not just removing alcohol. We have a "mend" system, which is what our whole platform is based on, mind, exercise, nutrition, and do.

And in the mind piece, it's all around positive psychology, what went well, gratitude, journaling, all of those bits of pieces that we know are absolute behemoths and helping people think positively, be happy, change their perception of themselves, et cetera, rewire their brain. The exercise piece is critical. The lymphatic system doesn't have a pump. We need to be exercising in the morning in order to process the detoxing. So that's why we get people to book into a physical challenge, like a spa or a park run, so exercise is happening. Nutrition, eating right, investigating your diet. What's from one diet is right for some person isn't for another. I'm not talking about dieting here, we're talking about eating the right foods. And they're obviously some great foods which help with the process of removing alcohol and removing cravings and sleeping better.

Sleep is a big thing that people go through, a process of it going worse, because they've used it as a sleep crutch for so long that they then have to retrain themselves to fall asleep in a nice natural way, but they get much more deep sleep once they've gone through that. And that's when they're like, "Oh my God, I'm sleeping, like it's amazing". And the last piece is the do, which is going out and doing these challenges and challenging yourself in other areas. So when you look at the program, it's a whole person program. And when you look at the gut, it's so intrinsically linked with the brain, and so intrinsically linked with things like stress, nutrition, obviously we're dealing with a lot more and a lot more impact than just removing alcohol.

Dr. Mahmoud Ghannoum: I tell you something, what you said is absolutely a great way to do it and why I am saying that apart from what you... What the belief, which was, what you showed us is, I built a program, which is a diet called Total Gut Balance, and it's exactly what you said. It's not only food. It's not only about alcohol reduction. It's not about just eating right. You have to take, as you mentioned, the total person. You have to have the way of life, the lifestyle in other words is very important and I make you laugh. I come from Lebanon Beirut, and now believe it or not, I go and do yoga. If my mother heard about that, she would, she would abandon me, but...

Ruari Fairbairns: She's not listening to the podcast?

Dr. Mahmoud Ghannoum: I hope not. But what I think it's absolutely, we need to take our few minutes in a day just to relax and meditate, is what you mentioned earlier. I think this is very important, as well as exercise is critical. You don't have to be a marathon runner, as long as you are exercising in moderation, it's going to help you, and of course, in this day and age, who doesn't have stress? We need to know how to manage it. And what you mentioned, meditation as well as yoga is a great way to do that. So I love what your program and what you suggested.

Ruari Fairbairns: Fantastic.

Andrea Wien: Ruari, can you tell us if we want to learn more about One Year No Beer sign up for the challenge, how people do that?

Ruari Fairbairns: Absolutely. So we produce a huge amount of free content. We have a podcast. Check out the Facebook page 'One Year No Beer', Instagram 'One Year No Beer'. If you want to come and do a challenge, we have a book on Amazon, or you can sign up and join the community, we are all over the world to over 50,000 members in 90 countries, and you can do that at It's one of those things where we just say to anyone, if you read...If there's any doubt in your mind, any question, and it's something you feel like doing then, come and give it a shot, it'll change your life.

Andrea Wien: Fantastic. Thank you so much. And Dr Ghannoum, I know you have your program that you mentioned. Do you have a book detailing that, that's now available for pre order? Can you talk a little bit about where people can find that?

Dr. Mahmoud Ghannoum: Yes, the book, which is going to be published in December 24th of this year, just one day before Christmas, where it talks about total gut balance, where you are balancing not only your bacteria, but your fungus, and you can find it, it's already pre order in Amazon. And I tell you, it really shares a lot with what you mentioned, and it will be very helpful if you want to know about some prebiotics or probiotics, if you can visit, we have a mix of probiotics that not only address your bacteria, but also your fungi.

Andrea Wien: Great, thank you so much. We'll link to all of that in the show notes, of course. And if any of the listeners want to hear more on biofilms or sugar, candida, all of those issues that really are impacted by alcohol as well. We have plenty of episodes previous to this one that you can check out. So gentlemen, thank you so much for coming on and we will talk to you soon.

Ruari Fairbairns: Thanks for having us on, thank you.

Dr. Mahmoud Ghannoum: Great, thank you. Bye-bye.

Andrea Wien: Thanks for tuning in to the microbiome report. Ruari has graciously offered listeners of the show 30% off a One Year No Beer challenge with the code BIO30. To sign up, head to our show notes page at and click on this episode. You'll find the unique link to the challenge there, and remember BIOHM is spelled B I O H M. Until next time I'm Andrea Wien.


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