If you frequent brewpubs, you’ve most likely heard of the term “beer flight". However, if you’re…
The short answer to this question is, unfortunately, yes, beer can cause diarrhea. When we talk about the negative consequences of drinking, we usually think of headaches and late-night phone calls to exes. However, diarrhea is one of the most common side effects of beer drinking that no one wants to talk about. It’s not only uncomfortable, but it can also be dangerous if it leads to dehydration.
Let’s look at why alcohol has such a negative impact on the gastrointestinal system and how to avoid the unpleasant side effects.
Why Does Alcohol Cause Diarrhea?
As soon as alcohol enters our system it starts making its way into the bloodstream. While some of the alcohol exits our body via breathing and urinating, the majority of it gets absorbed in the stomach and the small intestine. The rest passes through the large intestine and exits with the stool.
Alcohol can impact the way the digestive system normally works in any of the following ways:
- Inflammation: When the gastrointestinal tract comes into contact with alcohol, it can become inflamed. This inflammation frequently causes diarrhea.
- Fluid absorption: The liquids in the stool are generally removed by the large intestine before it is passed out of the body. However, the large intestine may not operate properly as a result of the alcohol, resulting in liquid stools.
- Faster contractions inside the colon: To push waste through, the muscles that surround the big intestine contract. This natural physiological process can be accelerated by drinking too much alcohol.
- Bacterial Imbalance: In the intestines, there are a variety of bacteria that help the body by attacking harmful pathogens. Alcohol can temporarily alter the intestinal flora, causing the intestines to malfunction.
Preventing Diarrhea When Drinking Beer
In order to prevent alcohol-induced diarrhea, one should be mindful of their drinking habits. Try to reduce the amount of alcohol you consume to lessen the stress on the digestive tract. Having a meal before drinking alcohol can lead to slower absorption of alcohol and reduce the risk of diarrhea.
Choosing a Beer that Doesn’t Cause Diarrhea
Unfortunately, as it happens, beer is one of the biggest culprits for diarrhea. It contains more carbs than other drinks and the body might have trouble breaking them down.
If you want to enjoy a few extra beers without worrying that much about diarrhea it’s better to not drink beers with high ABVs as they contain more sugars which can further irritate the GI system. Also avoid beers that might contain caffeine, commonly found in porters and stouts, as caffeine can increase movement in the intestine and the speed of digestion.
If you know that you are lactose intolerant it’s a good idea to stay away from beers that contain lactose, such as milk stouts or milkshake IPAs.
For people who suffer from Celiac disease or some other form of gluten intolerance, there is a great selection of gluten-free and gluten-reduced beers.
Remember that this is just an article for informational purposes and you should always follow the instructions of your primary care physician when it comes to alcohol consumption!