Best And Worst Alcoholic Drinks for IBS SUfferers
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IBS pain is worst!
We – IBS sufferers – try to avoid anything causing pain to us.
The relationship between IBS and Alcohol is little understood. If You are an IBS sufferer and alcohol drinker, many questions come into your Mind about IBS and alcohol drinking:
- Can alcohol cause IBS flare-ups?
- Is there is low FODMAP alcohol?
- What is the best alcohol for IBS?
- is my IBS is caused by alcohol?
- What alcohols to avoid with IBS?
In this article, I’ll do my best to answer all your questions and to provide you with evidence-based data that will help you.
This is an in-depth researched article. I spent time writing it aims to answer all the questions in your mind.
- Alcohol can cause IBS flare-up, diarrhea, and gas, but it depends on the amount and type of alcoholic beverage you drink.
- Light alcohol drinking may not affect your IBS.
- Not-drinking alcohol at all is the best option for your IBS.
- Never drink alcohol high in FODMAPs like High-fructose beverages, carbonated alcoholic drinks, and alcohols containing artificial sweeteners (diet alcohols).
- Dry wines like red and white wires are low in FODMAP. Also, vodka, whiskey, and Gin are OK to drink with IBS.
- Never take alcohol on empty stomach but try to drink water or eat before you drink.
- Studies proved that probiotics can decrease the effects of alcohol on your IBS.
[A] How alcohol and IBS interact.
1. How alcohol affects your IBS?
Alcohol is a trigger for IBS, especially if you drink it in large amounts.
Alcohol affects your intestinal motility, permeability, and absorption of nutrients [ref] and can trigger IBS symptoms, especially with binge drinking, causing:
- Diarrhea is usually associated with Yellow stools.
- gas distention
- Abdominal colics and pain.
- Alcohol can affect the good bacteria inside your gut. disruption of these bacteria can cause IBS symptoms.
2. Your IBS isn’t only affected by the type of alcohol you drink:
The type of alcoholic beverage you drink is not the only factor that affects your IBS symptoms.
Many other factors can cause a bad experience with drinking alcohol like:
- The amount or frequency of your drinking.
- Different people have different “Gut reactions” to the same type of alcohol.
- Whether you take foods or drinks with alcohol.
- Your mood.
Good to know that we are all different in our response or sensitivity to alcohol.
So, alcohol and IBS relationship are complicated and alcohol effects are a subject of individual variations.
You may drink 3 to 4 beverages per they and you don’t have symptoms
On the other hand, others may have a bad experience with their IBS just from having 1 drink.
This is due to the different sensitivities to alcohol across different persons.
3. Alcohol not only affects your IBS But Your Entire digestive system:
Alcohol is a chemical toxin not only affect it’s your IBS but also affects: [ref]
- Food and vitamin absorption from your small and large intestines.
- Alcohol can irritate your pancreas causing chronic inflammation leading to abdominal pain and indigestion
- Alcohol can cause serious damage to your liver what’s called Alcoholic Liver Disease (ALD).
- Alcohol increases your intestinal permeability to toxins, which moves from your gut to your blood affecting many organs.
- If you consume alcohol in large amounts for many years you are at risk of cancers, especially in your mouth and esophagus.
4. Light drinking is safer for your gut:
In 2013, American journal of gastroenterology scientists found that drinking excessive amounts of alcohol is associated with more IBS symptoms.
Also, light to moderate drinking is usually not associated with increased IBS symptoms.
Avoiding binge drinking and sticking to light alcohol drinking is the best strategy to avoid flare-ups.
How much should you drink?
According to The U.S. Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion Dietary Guidelines
- For women up to 1 drink per day
- For men up to 1 to 2 drinks per day
I will explain to you later exactly how to calculate the amount of alcohol you drink for different types of beverages.
Light alcohol found to be beneficial in killing some harmful bacteria invading your gut like:
- Helicobacter Pylori causes gastritis and peptic ulcers.
- Vibrio Cholera organisms which cause life-threatening diarrhea.
- Organisms that cause food poisoning like Salmonella!
- Other proposed benefits: alcohol may reduce the risk of heart diseases, brain stroke, and Diabetes. [ref]
NOTE: These “potential” benefits are only associated with light drinking. The reverse occurs when you binge-drink alcohol.
Listen to this interesting video from the SciShow YouTube channel about these benefits of alcohol!
Disclaimer: I believe alcohol is harmful to your health, and I only show these data to help you see the whole aspects of the topic.
5. Some studies suggest that alcohol is the cause of IBS.
If you are an alcohol drinker before you were diagnosed with IBS, your alcohol drinking may have played a role.
Alcohol is a strong chemical irritant that affects all parts of your digestive system.
In 2015, a large Chinese study included over 57,000 people with alcohol abuse found that alcohol abuse increases the risk of developing IBS.
Although there is no definite mechanism by which alcohol causes IBS but the clear relationship is always present.
So, we can say yes, IBS may be caused by alcohol in people who over-consume it for long periods.
6. Alcohol Can Cause IBS Flare Up. But Not Immediately.
Alcohol is a well-known IBS trigger and the flare-up is largely determined by the type and the amount of alcohol you consume.
It is not necessary for alcohol to cause IBS flare-up on the same day. You may experience IBS symptoms on the next day of drinking alcohol.
This late effect may not make you sure about what triggered your symptoms. If you are not sure, keep track of your symptoms.
You can use a diary to document your IBS flare-ups. I found that “Flashback” tracking flare-ups are more practical and easier. as tracking everything you eat even in periods when you are symptom-free is overwhelming.
You have to record the pattern of your alcohol intake before every attack of IBS. Not only the few hours before the attack but also, track drinking the day before IBS attack.
7. Binge drinking of alcohol is the worst scenario for your IBS.
Binge drinking of alcohol will increase your symptoms. With any type of alcohol, even with low FODMAP alcohols. [ref]
Binge drinking carries the high risk of worsening your IBS. This is especially causing diarrhea-predominant IBS and more frequent in females than males.
Light drinking of alcohol has little or no effects on your IBS.
No drinking at all is the best option.
[B] Best Alcoholic Drinks for IBS sufferers [Low FODMAP alcohols for IBS]
1- Red and white wine [except for sweet wine]
Red wine and white wine are low in FODMAP. They contain about 12% alcohol, and the alcohol itself is irritant to your IBS.
Both red wine and white wine are Ok to drink with IBS, but you have to drink with moderation. Excess amounts of red or white wine may worsen your IBS. The allowed amounts are:
- For men: 10 fluid ounces per day(300 CC of wine).
- For Women: only 5 fluid ounces per day ( 150 ml).
It is better to take wine with food or water. Also, you should drink wine slowly and avoid binge drinking.
2- Beer [Ok with IBS, except carbonated beer].
Beer is low FODMAP, and it is generally accepted to drink beer with IBS. but not the “carbonated” type. Beer is low in alcohol. Alcohol forms only 5% of beer. So, you can tolerate more amounts than wine with your IBS.
Accepted amount of beer with IBS:
- For men: Up to 24 Fl. Oz. (or about 720 ml)
- For women: Up to 12 Fl. Oz. (or about 360 ml).
You have to avoid carbonated beer and track your symptoms the days after drinking beer. If your IBS gets worse (nausea, diarrhea, indigestion, bloating, or abdominal pain), you have to decrease the amount you drink or cut it completely.
Choosing the best beer type for your IBS can be challenging. As there are different types of beer ingredients (different sources, different flavorings, carbonation).
To choose the best beer for IBS, consider the following:
- Avoid carbonated beer, as carbonation can make your IBS symptoms worse (distension, colics, and bloating).
- Avoid any artificially sweetened beer (check to the label for substances such as xylitol, sorbitol, mannitol). An artificial sweeter is high in fodmap and can hurt your IBS.
- Avoid high fructose beer as hone
3- Vodka and whiskey [ok with IBS]
Vodka is the highest in alcohol (about 40%). Vodka is Ok to drink with IBS as it is low in FODMAP, but you have to consume it in modest amounts because of its high alcohol content.
The same applies to other “distilled spirits” with IBS such as rum, tequila, whiskey, as the are very high in alcohol concentration.
The allowed amounts of vodka with IBS:
- For men: No more than 3 Fl. Oz. (about 90 ml per day, maximum).
- For women: about 1.5 Fl. Oz. (about 45 ml).
Because of the very high content of alcohol. Any excess amount can worsen your IBS. so, moderation is the key with distilled alcohol.
4- Gin [Ok with IBS, except sweet gin].
Gin is another form of distilled spirits with the same high alcohol content as vodka. Also, it generally accepted to drink gin with IBS (Gin is low in FODMAP). But remember to avoid artificially sweetened gin.
The allowed amount of gin to drink with IBS are:
- For men: No more than 3 Fl. Oz. (about 90 ml per day, maximum).
- For women: about 1.5 Fl. Oz. (about 45 ml).
[C] Worst alcoholic drinks for IBS sufferers [High FODMAP alcohols]
These alcohols are either high in FODMAPs or gluten They are frequently associated with worse IBS symptoms
fructose is originally found in some fruits like apples watermelon mango cherry and pear. About one-third of IBS patients suffer from fructose intolerance fructose is one of the FODMAP that is poorly tolerated and may lead to bloating and IBS attack Fructose found in
- fruit-based beverages (i.e. ciders), Cocktails and mixers
- sweet wines
- high fructose corn syrup
Alcohols containing artificial sweeteners
The letter “P” and FODMAP refers to a group of sugars called Polyols. Artificial sweeteners like mannitol, xylitol, and sorbitol all Polyols which may trigger your IBS as they are originally a FODMAP.
avoid the “Diet” alcohols that contain artificial sweeteners. always check the ingredients of your beverages for these 3 substances: Mannitol, Xylitol, and Sorbitol.
Carbonated alcoholic beverages:
The gas produced by the carbonated beverages may worsen your IBS. If you frequently suffer from bloating and gas, you should avoid any carbonated beverages like:
- Fizzy mixers,
- Ciders and
- Sparkling wine (tear).
[D] Tips to Drinks alcohol safely with IBS:
1. Never drink alcohol if you have these conditions:
Alcohols may endanger your health in If you have one of these conditions:
- If you are taking any medications that interact with alcohol
- if you are a pregnant female.
- If you work with machinery or drive a lot
- If you are under 21 years old.
2. Limit your drinking to a maximum of  drinks per day for men and  drink for women:
One drink or drink-equivalent is about 14 grams of pure alcohol per day.
It is contained in:
- 5 fluid ounces of wine (12% alcohol)
- 1.5 fluid ounces of 80 proof distilled spirits (40% alcohol)
- 12 fluid ounces of regular beer (5% alcohol).
*1 fluid ounce (Fl. OZ.)= about 30 CC of fluid.
This interesting video below will explain to you how to exactly calculate it.
3. Drink water with alcohol.
Try to drink water with alcohol as it has some benefits:
- Water will decrease the effect of alcohol on your gut (dilute the alcohol making it less injurious).
- Also, it will provide you with a sense of fullness that’s limiting the volume of alcohol you drink
- It will protect you from dehydration as alcohol is a diuretic that removes the water from your body through increasing urine volume.
You can drink a medium to a large glass of water after each drink of alcohol. small amounts of water may be useless.
Drinking more water with alcohol will decrease the alcohol concentration in your stomach.
Try to remember to bring the water before you start drinking either at home or outside. This will help you create the habit of drinking water with your alcohol Is this may reduce your IBS attacks that caused by alcohol.
4. Eat before or during alcohol drinking.
It is very harmful to drink alcohol on an empty stomach. Alcohol is very irritant when it comes in contact with your empty stomach.
A certain amount of alcohol could trigger your IBS, but if taken with food (or directly after it) will not affect you. So try to drink alcohol only after you eat.
5. Drink alcohol slowly.
“Having one drink after each dinner for a week is better than having 7 drinks in a single night”.
This binge drinking is potentially dangerous not only to your IBS but your overall health. Drinking large amounts of alcohol in a short time will be toxic for your gut, your blood, and your mental health.
Since alcohol is rapidly absorbed into your bloodstream, Alcohol will build up in your blood faster than you can metabolize it.
So, the more slowly you will drink alcohol, the lesser it will affect your IBS.
6. Try not to drink daily.
Your IBS is affected by the frequency of alcohol drinking Even with small amounts of alcohol; the daily drinking of alcohol carries more hazard to your IBS.
It will make your gut in a state of constant irritation and also, the alcohol will accumulate in your body in larger concentrations.
If you drink 7 days a week. try to discontinue 2 days per week. By the time, increase the days of discontinuation from alcohol week after week until you reach the tolerable amount that doesn’t affect your IBS (i.e withdraw alcohol gradually).
7. IBS, alcohol, and Probiotics? The unexpected relationship.
We all know that probiotics help to decrease IBS symptoms.
Also, alcohol makes your gut more permeable to toxins in your colon, which in-turn enters your bloodstream and hurts your liver and other organs.
I wasn’t routinely prescribing probiotics for patients with IBS flare-ups due to alcohol until I came across this study. The study concludes that alcohol may alter the good bacteria and increase the permeability of the intestine to toxins.
The researchers concluded that probiotics are good for both IBS and alcohol drinking. And I personally noticed the overall improvement of symptoms of IBS in my patients who are drinking alcohol.
So, my advice to you is to take probiotic regularly if you have IBS and want to drink alcohol safely.
For the best probiotics for IBS and alcohol, refer to my resources page.
BUT BE AWARE
Never take probiotics and drink alcohol at the same time of the day. Alcohol may kill the good bacteria in your probiotics making it useless.
So, try to make at least 4 to 5 hours between probiotic intake and alcohol drinking.