Can you drink alcohol if you have IBS?

Alcohol is known to be a gut irritant and can be poisonous if consumed in large quantities. However, it is widespread and plays significant role in people’s life.  A lot of people drink alcohol when they go out, have guests over or when they are emotionally stressed. Have you noticed that when you sit down at the table in a restaurant you are brought a drink menu first? If you look around you will see that many people have some type of alcohol with their meals. Despite common belief that alcohol is not good for the health, people still drink it. In fact, for general public it is recommended to drink no more than 1 drink for women and 2 drinks for men a day. Note: 1 drink = 12oz beer, 5oz wine or 1.5oz spirits.

People with IBS are more vulnerable when it comes to drinking in the bar or restraunt because they don’t want to explain to everyone why they abstain from alcohol but still want to enjoy the time.  Some people may not get the suffering that people with IBS are going through and don’t understand why they are afraid to drink alcohol.

 Alcohol may trigger symptoms for some people but not all. Studies show that people with IBS may drink alcohol in small or moderate quantities and be fine, however may have symptoms from excessive alcohol consumption. The research is conflicting about alcohol and IBS and there is no clear evidence that IBS can either be caused by alcohol consumption or if it can trigger the symptoms. It is all individual and people with IBS need to know what type of alcohol and amount they can tolerate without adverse side effects.


If you are on a low FODMAP diet and wondering if you can include alcohol, researchers at Monash University in Australia identified which alcoholic drinks may be included. Here is the list of drinks that most likely will not trigger the symptoms when consumed in moderation:

  • Gin
  • Vodka
  • Whiskey
  • Red wine
  • White wine
  • Sparkling wine
  • Beer
  • Tequila

 Alcoholic drinks that contain FODMAPs include:

  • Rum
  • Cider
  • Sherry
  • Port
  • Sweet dessert wine

Alcohol is a potent toxin and can affect your digestive system in many ways. It can decrease the absorption of nutrients, such as carbohydrates high in FODMAPs that will stay in the gut longer waiting for the alcohol to be processed, which can lead to gas, abdominal pain and diarrhea. Our bodies metabolize alcohol first before any other nutrient, because it is a toxin and need to be removed A.S.A.P. 


  • Since there are no guidelines of how much alcohol you can drink when you have IBS, you need to find your own limit. Try 1 type of beverage at a time, don’t binge drink. If you don’t have symptoms, try to increase the amount. Remember! Drink in moderation. Excessive alcohol consumption may increase the risk of developing various diseases.
  • When at a party or out with friends try to pace yourself and don’t drink too many. Always drink plenty of water to keep yourself hydrated. 
  • When drinking alcohol include food to help to coat the lining of the stomach and reduce the irritation.
  • Avoid sweet wines because they may be higher in fructose.
  • Try mixing alcoholic beverages with juices, such as cranberry juice, but make sure there is no high fructose corn syrup or other high FODMAP ingredients are added to juices or cocktail mixes.
  • Try a “mocktail” or an alcohol-free mixed drink if your friends are insisting on raising a toast. Drinking low FODMAP juice out of wine glass may trick your brain into thinking that you drink wine.

The bottom line is to find your own tolerable levels of alcohol that will not trigger the symptoms, so you can enjoy occasional drink and have a good time.  

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