If you feel like every time you have a drink, your gut disagrees with gas, bloating and pain, you’re in the right place my friend! Enjoying a drink doesn’t have to stop … but there are some guidelines that can help you enjoy yourself without feeling heavy and down with digestive symptoms.This article will help you clarify the misunderstandings around alcohol and answers questions that you may have surrounding
gluten-free and FODMAP friendly alcoholic beverages.

Firstly, it’s important to know that alcohol really isn’t great for your digestive system. That’s right, I said it! Any kind of alcohol can act as a gut stimulant and move your bowels quickly which can result in gas, distension, discomfort or diarrhea. Carbonated cocktails, beer and beverages are full of gas, so they can lead to a whole whack of symptoms as well like gas, bloating and pain.

And if you’re looking to improve irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) or another digestive disorder or disease, you’ve got to understand more about the Low FODMAP diet and if it can help. Download my free eBook to help you better understand this diet and get started implementing simple steps to get rid of symptoms like gas, bloating, pain, diarrhea or constipation related to IBS. Click here to get a copy emailed to you right away.

So the first important recommendation is to not over-consume alcoholic drinks. Usually 1-2 beverages is a healthy amount. For many of us with digestive health issues, avoiding or limiting alcohol is an important part of the plan.

You don’t need to avoid it completely, and if you are going to drink, making the right choice can help. I have two big recommendations before we discuss type of alcohol.

  1. Avoid carbonated beverages – which add air and gas into your belly
  2. Avoid sweet mixes, juice and sugary cocktails – this can increase FODMAPs which are easily fermented sugars that trigger digestive symptoms in those with Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), Crohn’s and Colitis.

FOD-What?!?!?

If you’re wondering what a FODMAP is, it is a short-chained (very small) sugar that isn’t digestive well by  the human body. By reducing the FODMAPs in your body, you can experience significant improvement of digestive symptoms like gas, bloating, distension, abdominal discomfort, pain, diarrhea and/or constipation.

Here is a simple summary of alcoholic beverages to include (in moderation) or avoid if you’re following a low FODMAP diet or a gluten-free diet.

 

TYPE OF ALCOHOL

LOW FODMAP 

GLUTEN- FREE

Beer and ale

Distilled alcohol including: gin, vodka, scotch, whisky, rye

Rum

Wine including: red, white, sweet, sparking

Sticky Wine

Apple and raspberry cordial

Ciders including the following flavours: apple, blackberry, cherry, grapefruit, mango, peach, pear, watermelon

Read Label

Coolers

Read Label

Read Label

 

Let’s dive a little deeper into how these beverages are made and why they cause digestive distress.

Alcohol is a Gut Stimulant

All forms of alcohol are gut stimulants, meaning they stimulate the digestive tract and cause food to be moved through more quickly. If you experience IBS symptoms, particularly diarrhea or frequent lose bowel movements, you may want to avoid alcohol all together. You may be able to reintroduce some casual drinks once you’ve achieved regular bowel movements. But note that alcohol should always be limited if you have digestive distress!

 

Distilled Alcoholic Beverages

Distilled alcohol such as gin, vodka, scotch, whisky and rye are produced from fermentation and distillation of wheat, barely or rye. The distillation process separates the alcohol from the gluten proteins, producing an extracted product that is gluten free. Despite being manufactured from grains that contain gluten, the final product contains NO gluten.

 

Beer and Ale

These are generally produced from barley, which is a gluten containing grain. The final beer/ale product generally contains very low amounts of gluten (1-2 mg). If you are Celiac, this small amount of gluten can trigger an immune response and result in uncomfortable symptoms. However, many people following a low FODMAP diet can tolerate this minimal amount of gluten. If your symptoms are under control, you may try to experiment with beer to identify your body’s tolerance.

Low FODMAP alcohol

 

Wine

Wine is made from grapes and therefore is gluten free. Grapes are also a fruit that is well tolerated in the FODMAP diet. However, dessert or sticky wines are sweeter, having a higher sugar (fructose) content making them poorly tolerated by those with IBS. If you follow the low FODMAP diet, stick to drier wines, as they generally have less sugar.

 

Rum

Rum is distilled from sugar cane and is high in FODMAPs, so avoid if you can. However, it is a gluten-free option safe for those with celiac disease.

 

Coolers, Ciders and Cocktails

To avoid both gluten and FODMAPs make sure to read the labels on these types of alcoholic beverages, as they have many added ingredients. Coolers, ciders and cocktails should generally be avoided when on the low FODMAP diet, as they tend to be high in sugar and are carbonated, which can cause gas, bloating, and discomfort. NOTE: this is not true of all brands/flavours so do some research, read your labels, and consult a dietitian for clarification on specific brands.

 

Ontario Alcohol Labeling Laws

The laws used by the LCBO are very different then regulations that apply to food labeling. Here is a quick guide to help you understand the LCBO’s labeling guidelines. This will help you better navigate your search for gluten-free and FODMAP friendly alcohols.

For an alcoholic beverage to be labeled ‘gluten-free’ the beverage has to be produced from entirely gluten-free materials, with no gluten-containing substance used during distillation. For example, even though vodka has no gluten in the final product, some kinds are manufactured from winter wheat, such as Grey Goose, and are therefore not labeled ‘gluten-free’. Manufacturers can’t safety label these products as gluten-free because they are processed in a facility that contains gluten.

Gluten-free beer must be made from entirely gluten free materials. They are sometimes given different names such as ‘Rice Beer’ to distinguish the difference in their production from the typical barely malted beers.

 

Use these helpful hints to enjoy a drink on the patio that won’t cause you digestive distress. No matter what drink you choose the key to drinking alcohol while maintaining your digestive health is moderation!

 

Wishing you much love & wellness,

Stephanie

 

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