Hi everyone, and hope you all had a great weekend!
We had a party for a friend’s birthday and had a great time. If yours was anything like my weekend, you also maybe had an alcoholic drink or 2?
Most likely you’re now feeling the effects in the form of a swollen stomach and excess gas caused by bloating. I know alcohol can not only cause a swollen stomach but also a bloated face, swollen lips, puffy eyelids and even broken veins in hardened drinkers!
Add to that flatulence, excess gas and loose stools and… well… it can make you feel uncomfortable and unattractive that’s for sure.
Now, I’m prone to bloating anyway (as you might well be too, if you’re visiting my blog) but it’s a problem that can affect many people who drink alcohol, even in small amounts.
Why does alcohol cause a swollen stomach and bloating?
As is often the theme in my posts, bloating can be caused by a range of different factors. In the case of drinking alcohol, the bloating can be caused partly due to weight gain from the extra calories and partly due to excess gas caused by fermentation.
Here are 5 reasons why alcohol can leave you bloating and feeling miserable:
1. Too many liquid calories
There are lots of calories in most alcoholic drinks—empty calories that have no nutritional value.
There’s a theory that calories consumed in liquids don’t trigger your brain’s “Stop, I’m full!” sensors anywhere near as well as solid food. Therefore, it’s much easier to carry on drinking and taking in calories long after your body would have told you to stop if you were eating the same amount.
It’s easy to see how you might generally bloat and put on weight from drinking too much, just from the sheer amount of extra calories taken in.
2. Alcohol stimulates your appetite
Drinking alcohol can really trigger hunger, especially late at night if it’s a while since you ate a decent meal. The problem is that you often end up eating fatty, greasy food—the sort of food you might not otherwise have deemed healthy had you not been drinking.
Let’s face it, most of us have found ourselves at one time or another in a fast-food takeaway shop after a night out, I’m sure!
The problem is that this sort of unhealthy greasy, fatty food can be really hard to digest at the best of times. For us guys with bloating problems, this can really make life difficult the next day.
3. Late night digestion is tough on your body
Tied into my point above: often you might head off to bed with a full stomach after drinking. You then end up spending the whole night with a stomach full of undigested food. This food then begins to ferment, which is one of the prime causes of excess gas and bloating.
4. Coping with the toxins and wheat or grain
When we drink alcohol, we load our systems up with toxins which our bodies then have to work really hard to process and get rid of. The extra work our digestive systems have to put in can in itself cause bloating and gas.
However, also the large amounts of wheat and other grain content can lead many people to be intolerant to many alcoholic drinks, without them even realising. Many people have similar problems with the grape content in wine too.
The toxins from alcohol, added to these ‘intolerant’ substances, impairs your body’s ability to digest more complex food. Your system has its work cut out dealing with it all. This causes a huge build-up of sulfurous gases in your gut wall, which leads to a painful swollen stomach.
5. Candida yeast feeds on alcohol
Bloating in many drinkers is caused by the presence of live yeast (called candida albicans) in the intestines. You may not even know it’s there, but candida loves to feed on alcohol.
If you have an undiagnosed overgrowth of intestinal candida you could inadvertently be making your bloating symptoms far worse, without even realising it.
How to reduce bloating caused by alcohol
Knowing the reasons why alcohol causes bloating is a major step in reducing the symptoms. I have 4 clear pieces of advice if you’re suffering:
- Drink less alcohol (or even cut it out completely if the symptoms cause you real trouble).
- Eat well beforehand – drinking on an empty stomach definitely leads to more bloating and gas production than if you drink on a full one.
- Drink more water. Try to have a drink of water after every couple of alcoholic drinks if you can.
- Take probiotics. Regularly eating probiotic products (such as probiotic yoghurts or drinks), both before and after drinking, can help restore the balance of enzymes and ‘good’ bacteria in your gut which is destroyed by alcohol.
If you suffer from a swollen stomach or other types of bloating after drinking, I hope this post has helped.
If you’re a sufferer, or have tips for other people, please let me know in the comments below!
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