Alcohol and IBS - Is Alcohol an IBS Trigger?

  • Yes! Alcohol is a strong GI irritant (and a potential colon carcinogen).

    • It can cause painful spasms, urgency, and diarrhea, as well as bloating and rebound constipation.

  • The worst drinks? Ones that contain other IBS triggers as well:

    • Carbonation (beer, champagne)

    • Coffee (regular, decaf, lattes, doesn't matter)

    • Dairy or coconut cream (pina coladas, creme liqueurs)

    • Fruit juices that are high in fructose (a FODMAP)

  • Does this mean that you can never drink any alcohol at all ever again? It might - but maybe not.

    • If you're not sure alcohol bothers you, eliminate it and get your diet stabilized.

    • Don't just assume one drink won't hurt you, so you never take the step of eliminating all alcohol.

    • This is a very common pattern with the foods and drinks people really don't want to give up - a juicy steak, ice cream sundaes, or that favorite cocktail before dinner.

    • I definitely sympathize - but it's better to know for sure how your body reacts to triggers.

    • IBS doesn't often respond to wishful thinking. Unfortunately.

  • Already stable? Carefully try one drink and see how it affects you.

    • Tolerance is greater when your IBS is stable, as your GI tract is less hypersensitive.

  • How you drink, not just what you drink, could make quite a difference.

    • One light drink after a high soluble fiber meal or a dose of Tummy Fiber may be tolerable.

      • This is especially likely on an occasional (instead of daily) basis.

    • Judging by reader feedback, white wine may be safer for IBS than red, and beer seems to be big trouble.

    • Having a drink when you're feeling relaxed instead of stressed can make a difference as well.

  • If you do drink, have at least one glass of water for each alcoholic beverage.

  • Alcohol is very dehydrating, and this seriously impacts constipation and bloating.

  • Really want the splurge? Help head off the GI spasms alcohol can cause by taking a peppermint oil capsule on an empty stomach an hour before you drink..

  • Even better, follow up your booze with actively helpful drinks like Fennel or Peppermint Tummy Teas.

  • A happy exception? Cooking with alcohol is usually very tolerable.

    • The alcohol evaporates and carbonation dissipates. You'll get all of the flavor but none of the risk!.

    Tip Takeaway: When it comes to IBS, alcohol is the devil's brew. Avoid completely, or limit your drinking to small quantities, infrequent occasions, and happy (not stressful) events.

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