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Does alcohol give you a bloated stomach?

Posted 1 year ago by Clare

You don’t have to be a binge drinker to get a bloated stomach from drinking alcohol. There can be a few possible reasons why your favourite tipple is making you feel uncomfortable and bloated, as well as things you can do to help avoid this. Read below to find out.

Alcohol can cause bloating for lots of different reasons

Irritation and inflammation

There are some foods and drinks that will simply irritate your stomach and intestine lining, eventually leading to inflammation of the stomach lining and even possibly gastritis. Alcohol is one of these irritants. For those people who literally drink a glass of wine once in a while, this shouldn’t be a problem. However, if you drink most nights your stomach lining doesn’t get a chance to recover and over time will become more sensitive, and even possibly inflamed and damaged, otherwise known as gastritis. This can also interfere with the digestive process which can lead to bloating and nutritional deficiencies.


This is an issue rather along the same lines of the subject above, in the sense that constant intake of certain foods or drink can often lead to an intolerance. Many people bloat with the intake of wheat or dairy for example. It, therefore, follows that if you tend to bloat with wheat or yeast-based products, that a wheat or yeast-based alcohol such as some spirits and wine, may also cause an intolerance reaction such as bloating. This could also be one of the reasons why beer bloats a lot of people.

Water retention

Another way in which alcohol causes stomach distension is that it causes water retention. Excessive alcohol in the blood may temporarily suppress the release of the ‘anti-diuretic’ hormone (ADH). When ADH levels drop, the kidneys don’t reabsorb as much water which leads to more water being lost in urine. This, in turn, leads to an electrolyte imbalance in the body, particularly of sodium. When body tissues contain sodium they then actively absorb water which leads to water retention and that feeling of being bloated. In addition to this is we have a tendency to eat salty foods with alcohol, which again increases the level of sodium in our tissues, and therefore the amount of water it drags in with it.

Sugar bloat

We all know that alcohol contains varying levels of sugar. We tend to be concerned about the weight gain that may be associated with that. However, less considered, is the interaction between sugar and our gut bacteria. Pathogenic bacteria and yeast overgrowths thrive on sugar. Essentially the bacteria or yeast will ferment the sugar, which releases gases and causes bloating.


What to do about it

Cut it down or out – unfortunately, this is the one recommendation people do not want to hear but is the one that will work the best for most. Constant, regular drinking is more likely to cause all the above reasons for bloating of the stomach, as well as irritation, reduced digestion, and absorption of nutrients amongst other things. Giving both your gut and liver regular breaks from alcohol is advisable. Try to only drink 2 -3 times a week.

Celery and parsley are both known for helping to reduce water bloat


Drink water with your tipple – diluting your alcohol means you will drink less and will be less harsh on your stomach and gut lining. Contrary to logical thinking, drinking lots of water also helps to reduce water retention.

Eat wisely – There are foods that will help with irritated gut and stomach lining as well as ones that will help with water retention such as celery, dandelion tea, and parsley. Try and include these in your diet to help reduce inflammation, intolerances and imbalanced gut bacteria

Reduce sugary additions – avoid sugary mixers as well as alcohol that is very sugary such as fortified wines, liqueurs, and cocktails.

Choose your tipple wisely – your body is very good at giving you signals. If you bloat, feel sick or get stomach pain after a particular kind of drink, don’t keep drinking it. For example, you may find wine doesn’t suit you if you are sensitive to yeast, in which case maybe try gin and tonic as an alternative.

Read the following blog posts for more information on reducing bloating:

Is detoxing a load of nonsense and can it help with bloating?

5 common mistakes that cause bloating

Natural remedies for bloating


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