People all over the world drink alcohol for many different reasons.
Whether it’s a social practice that involves going out with friends and partying or just enjoying the occasional glass of something to reduce anxiety, improve mood and relax at the end of a long workday, drinking is still a practice many tend to follow routinely.
However, just as there are many reasons why you may drink, there are also many reasons why you may not, or even why you may not be able to!
If you’re here, reading this, chances are you struggle with a certain digestive condition or a sensitive stomach, which is why you can’t drink too much alcohol or certain types of alcohol.
As you can imagine, in such a case, some drinks are bound to worsen your symptoms so it’s generally recommended you avoid drinking.
The good news is that you don’t exactly have to stop completely.
After all, there are some alcoholic drinks that are deemed not as harmful to someone with digestive problems, allowing you to still enjoy the occasional drink.
Here you will find out more about such products but before that, we should learn about the potentially toxic effects alcohol in general can have on our health, especially if we already suffer from IBS, SIBO or other gut-related problems.
After all, alcohol does not only affect the liver and kidneys but is pretty bad for many other of our organs as well, including the stomach!
As a result, those who are diagnosed with any gastrointestinal issue need to make well informed decisions when it comes to their diet, especially if alcohol is usually part of it.
By knowing a lot of information about how alcohol works and how it affects the human body, you will be able to properly choose the alcohol you can consume as well as known, how much and how often you should enjoy it to remain healthy and happy.
First of all, if you must drink, make sure you go for a clean low-FODMAP alcohol since it’s guaranteed not to cause havoc inside your digestive system.
A key thing you should know is the fact that once in your stomach, around 20 percent of the alcohol you consume will be absorbed into your bloodstream, continuing to travel to the liver, where different enzymes can metabolize it.
The other 80 percent is absorbed by the small intestine and will leave the body via bodily fluids like sweat, urine, and saliva.
Harmful Effects of Alcohol Consumption
It’s no secret that it takes very little time for people to notice some of the harmful effects of drinking excessively, including:
– Slurred speech,
– Difficulty breathing,
– Nausea or vomiting,
– Struggling to maintain balance,
– Impaired memory,
– interpersonal conflict,
– Reduced inhibitions,
– Violent or irresponsible behavior,
– Alcohol poisoning.
– Miscarriage, stillbirth or FASD (fetal alcohol spectrum disorders.)
The abuse or chronic use of alcohol over a prolonged period of time comes with increased risks of developing an array of dangerous diseases such as:
– Breast cancer, mouth or throat cancer,
– Weight gain,
– Liver disease,
– Heart disease,
– Brain disease or nervous system disorders.
Of course, while not a disease in itself, irresponsible alcohol use can also lead to dangerous or even deadly accidents.
Benefits of Alcohol Consumption
Now that we’ve established all the dangers you may be exposing yourself to by drinking alcohol, it’s only fair to mention some of the health benefits as well!
That’s right! There have been quite a few clinical research studies in the last few years that claim alcohol consumption, when practiced in moderation, can contribute to one’s health as follows:
– Can reduce the risk of ischemic stroke,
– Can reduce the risk of passing away from heart disease,
– Can reduce the risk of developing diabetes.
Just to be clear, however, these slight benefits are rather negligible when compared to the truly positive effects of following a healthy diet and exercising regularly so don’t think that simply by drinking in moderation you’ll be improving your well-being.
But what does moderate drinking even mean?
According to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, moderate drinking is defined as the consumption of two or fewer alcoholic drinks a day for men and no more than one alcoholic drink for women.
Alcohol and the Digestion System
From your mouth, all the way down to the elimination organs, alcohol will get in contact with everything it passes through whenever you drink.
Because of this, nearly all parts of your digestive system will be harmed by the alcohol as follows:
The Mouth – Alcohol can irritate the inside of your mouth and can even increase the risk of developing mouth cancer in time.
The Esophagus – As a result of also irritating your throat while traveling from the mouth to the stomach, alcohol can increase the risk of being diagnosed with esophageal cancer.
The Stomach – Alcohol can cause the same type of irritation and even inflammation to the stomach lining.
This condition is well known as gastritis and is quite common amongst those who drink a lot.
Too much inflammation and irritation can also cause bleeding and ulcers in the stomach lining.
Furthermore, excessive alcohol consumption may also cause the malabsorption of nutrients, something that seriously increases the risk of developing a number of other severe illnesses.
The Large and Small Intestines – Intestinal motility can be affected, leading to diarrhea but this is the least of your problems in this area.
After all, drinking alcohol may inhibit nutrient absorption.
The Pancreas – Alcohol can cause inflammation in this area as well, leading to a disease known as pancreatitis.
Not only that but drinking may even influence the manner in which insulin is produced by the pancreas, which can lead to diabetes!
The Liver – Alcohol consumption can cause liver cirrhosis, which scars the liver tissue that kills liver cells.
It can also lead to inflammation in this area and even hepatitis as well as jaundice.
What are the effects of drinking while suffering from IBS, SIBO or other such gut issues?
There are reports that alcoholics register higher rates of SIBO, which is why the connection should be considered even though at this point, there are no direct associations between the two.
As those diagnosed with SIBO are well aware, the bacteria in the small intestine may ferment carbohydrates excessively, leading to a bunch of different the gastrointestinal symptoms.
This is also why the few studies on this topic that seem to suggest alcohol consumption is related to SIBO, are not entirely reliable.
They failed to take into consideration the amount of carbs the volunteers also consumed alongside alcohol.
However, many people do notice the negative effects of alcohol consumption on their digestive systems, which is why some decide to stop drinking as much in an attempt to lessen the symptoms and get successful results!
Worst Alcohol for Your Stomach
At the opposite end of what you can still enjoy from time to time, there are the beverages that you should always avoid if you’re someone dealing with gastrointestinal issues such as IBS or SIBO.
– Beer. If you have a weak stomach, beer and other fermented beverages are your worst enemy! Furthermore, beer tends to be filled with added sugars, yeast and carbohydrates which are obviously really harmful to SIBO patients.
– Liqueur. This alcoholic beverage is usually flavored with sweeteners, added sugars, fruit, cream, herbs and spices. Overall, the high sugar content in liqueur is really bad if you’re trying to keep your SIBO symptoms in check.
– High FODMAP Wines. Some types of Riesling, Rosé and Moscato (or pretty much all dessert wines) tend to have a higher sugar content on average, this being the main reason why they are bad for those struggling with IBS or SIBO.
All that being said, cutting alcohol completely can be really difficult, especially if you wish to continue having a social life!
For many people nowadays, going out and drinking with friends from time to time is not only part of the required social ritual but also a much needed escape from their stressful everyday lives.
With that being said, drinking in moderation and picking the right drinks can significantly lower the negative impact of alcohol on your gut, allowing you to recover quickly after only a couple of days or even less.
Best Alcohol for Your Stomach
Indeed, there are some safer options for those suffering from SIBO and IBS out there.
These beverages tend to be gluten-free, contain lower amounts of FODMAPS and are generally cleaner overall.
The least harmful drinks you can still enjoy even while dealing with a weak digestive system include:
– Dry wine,
It may sound scary given its alcohol percentage but vodka is actually one of the cleanest liquors on the market.
Typically, it is made out of grains such as rye, corn, wheat and sorghum but it can also be made with molasses, potatoes, soybeans, grapes and sugar beets.
As part of the distillation process for vodka, the liquor gets filtered through charcoal in order to get rid of all unwanted flavors and coloring.
This process is repeated more than once to ensure that none of those end up in the final product.
Vodka also tends to have the lowest levels of fusel oils and congeners, as opposed to most other types of liquors that do have a high content of these fermentation byproducts.
- Dry Wine
All wines with a less than 1 percent residual sugar content are usually safe for those with IBS or SIBO.
Most manufacturers are not required to list their products’ residual sugar percentage on the labels but that being said, you should know that most often than not, dry red and white wines meet this safe 1 percent requirement.
More precisely, some of the most popular safe red wines on that list are: Zinfandel, Cabernet Sauvignon Merlot, Pinot Noir, Syrah and Bordeaux.
As for dry white wines, the list includes: Chardonnay, Pinot Grigio, Sauvignon Blanc and some types of Riseling, Brut or Extra Brut champagne!
This alcoholic beverage is usually made out of a number of different grain mashes such as rye, malted rye, wheat, corn barley and malted barley.
The good news is that all types and brands of whiskey are safe to drink by those with gastrointestinal issues, especially by individuals who follow the specific carbohydrate diet (SCD) every day.
The final “safe” drink on our list is derived from a mix of neutral alcohol and juniper barriers.
Gin’s natural flavors tend to be different spices and citrus.
Most importantly, what makes this beverage a safe option for people with gastrointestinal issues is the fact that it requires a limited fermentation process.
Even though these four alcoholic drink types are generally safe and will not cause severe digestive symptoms to take place, you should still make sure you consume them in moderation.
This is because no matter the ingredients used or the manufacturing process, alcohol in itself can lead to digestive distress too!
In other words, those who are diagnosed with SIBO, IBS or other gastrointestinal problems, should not only consume “safe” alcohol for their conditions but also make sure to do so in moderation, limiting their consumption to only one or two drinks, once or twice per week!
To lessen the harmful effects even more, here are some extra tips:
– Ensure that you have food in your system before drinking alcohol,
– Drink a lot of water before, during and after consuming alcohol,
– After drinking, get a lot of sleep,
Avoid highly fermented drinks such as beer.