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Health

Alcohol belly? Gut health expert reveals EXACTLY why alcohol makes you poop differently

  • Alcohol can speed up the movement of food through the stomach, causing diarrhea.
  • But certain alcohols can slow down food transit and cause constipation
  • READ MORE: The Drink That Could End Hangovers Forever

It’s well known that drinking too much can lead to headaches, fatigue and upset stomach, but why does drinking too much make you run to the bathroom the next day?

Now an expert has revealed how alcohol wreaks havoc on your body and digestion.

Vincent Ho, associate professor of gastroenterology at Western Sydney University, said alcohol disrupts the way your body processes food, particularly the time it takes for food to travel through the gut.

Alcohol can speed up the movement of food through the stomach and intestines, causing diarrhea. It also reduces nutrient absorption and people who consume sugary alcoholic drinks are more likely to suffer on the toilet the next day.

Beverages like beer and wine speed up the transit of food, but vodka and whiskey slow it down, creating a feeling of fullness or discomfort.

The graph above shows how long it takes for the body to return to baseline after a weekend of drinking.

The graph above shows how long it takes for the body to return to baseline after a weekend of drinking.

However, not all alcohols are equal and some can even have the opposite effect.

Beverages like beer and wine speed up the transit of food, but vodka and whiskey slow it down, creating a feeling of fullness or discomfort.

A study in rats showed that those exposed to high doses of alcohol experienced delays in food processing in the small intestine. This could suggest that people who engage in one episode of binge drinking – as opposed to repeated binge drinking – may actually experience more constipation than diarrhea.

In a 2022 study, 500 people recorded their stools and had their stools collected for analysis. Based on self-report surveys, researchers found that people who reported an episode of heavy drinking had harder, firmer stools.

Researchers believed that the brief period of excessive alcohol consumption caused a delay in the processing of food in the intestine – and the longer food sits in the intestines, the more water is absorbed from the stool into the body, leading to dry, hard stools.

However, not everyone has experienced this. In people with pre-existing digestive problems, such as irritable bowel syndrome, excessive alcohol consumption led to diarrhea, nausea and abdominal pain.

And chronic alcohol consumption can even have long-term effects on your gut, as it has been linked to lactose intolerance, an overgrowth of bacteria in the small intestine, and reduced absorption of nutrients.

If you frequently experience digestive issues, the best thing to do, Ho said, is to limit your alcohol intake and pay attention to the type of alcohol that affects you the most.

If you experience diarrhea after a night out, it may help to avoid mixing alcohol with caffeinated drinks, which are known to cause intestinal problems.

If constipation is the problem, it’s important to stay hydrated. Mr. Ho recommends drinking water before you even start drinking alcohol.

Additionally, drinking water between alcoholic beverages and before going to bed can also help avoid discomfort.

Eating foods high in protein and fiber can be beneficial. Having food in your stomach before drinking helps lessen the effects of alcohol on the intestinal lining.

Mr Ho said changes in stool after drinking alcohol are usually short-lived and harmless and resolve within a few days.

However, if symptoms persist for several days after drinking, it could be a sign of a digestive health problem.

Gn En gealth

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