Hello -

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..

  • Also helpful - 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!.

  • Special case: if you have Crohn's or ulcerative colitis as well as IBS, avoid alcohol completely.

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.

You are not alone!

P.S. If you have any questions or comments I'd love to hear them - just reply to this email to reach me directly. I am overwhelmed with emails but I try to answer everyone.

To taming your tummy,

Heather Van Vorous
Heather Van Vorous
Over 40 years dealing with IBS

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