why does drinking alcohol make me bloat

Why do I bloat whenever I drink alcohol?

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Bloating can be caused by a number of different things, one of which is alcohol consumption. 

Usually, you can distinguish between bloating caused by alcohol and bloating caused by other things (aside from the fact that it occurs after a day or night of heavy drinking). Alcohol bloating tends to be characterised by puffiness in the face and swelling in the abdominal region.

Certain types of alcohol are particularly bloating, such as beer and wine, although all types of alcohol can increase the risk of digestive issues. You might find that alcohol bloating is worse when you drink during the evening as opposed to day drinking because you often end up going to sleep with a full stomach of fluid. As a result, you can wake up feeling puffy and lethargic.

What Causes Alcohol Bloating?

The obvious cause of alcohol bloating is the consumption of alcohol. High-calorie drinks like beer, wine, cider, and whiskey not only increase bloating in the digestive tract, but also increase weight gain around the abdomen. Just one drink can contain several hundred calories.

Alcohol is a diuretic, so it causes your body to lose more water. Although this makes it sound like alcohol should reduce bloating, it actually has the opposite effect and causes increase gas production and bloating.

Alcohol can cause the lining of the digestive tract to become inflamed, which can exacerbate bloating and total-body swelling. These effects are worsened if you consume alcoholic drinks with other fluids, like carbonated sodas and sugary fruit juices.

How Can You Reduce Alcohol Bloating?

If you’re prone to bloating after alcohol, there are lots of things you can do to minimise your symptoms. 

First and foremost, reducing your alcohol consumption is going to be the best option when you want get rid of alcohol-related bloating. The recommended alcohol intake for adults is no more than 14 units of alcohol a week, spread out across at least three days.

If you enjoy drinking alcohol, you might not be keen on cutting down your consumption, even if it means you have to deal with boosting and abdominal discomfort. Here are some great things to do when you’re drinking alcohol but want to avoid excess gas and bloating.

  1. Drink water

The main reason why alcohol can bloat you is because it increases water loss and dehydration. This slows down your digestion and causes food to sit in your digestive tract for longer, leading to bloating.

The best way to support your digestion when you're getting through a hangover (or even while you're still drinking alcohol) is to sip on water throughout the day and evening. This will keep you hydrated, reduce inflammation, and prevent constipation and excess gas. 

 2. Choose alcoholic beverages that don't cause excess bloating

Certain drinks are worse for bloating than others. If you want to eliminate alcohol-related bloating, avoid heavy drinks like beer, wine, and cider. Fizzy alcoholic drinks like champagne and prosecco are also a no-no if you want to reduce bloating too.

Sugary mixers, such as fruit juice and sodas, can also increase bloating, so it's best to avoid these when you're trying to support your digestion while drinking alcohol. Choose non-fizzy mixers with your spirits whenever possible.

 3. Take probiotics

Probiotics are live bacteria, such as Lactobacillus acidophilus and Bifidobacterium longum. They are found naturally in your gut and aid the breakdown of food and increase nutrient absorption. When you drink a lot of alcohol, these beneficial probiotic bacteria can be destroyed, which can lead to digestive issues.

Taking probiotic supplements can support your digestive system and help to repopulate the levels of Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium in your gut during or after alcohol consumption.

If you're searching for a great probiotic supplement, choose a product that contains at least one million colony forming units (CFUs) per gram of product. This is the recommended minimum bacterial concentration for an effective probiotic product, as supported by research.

You can also consume probiotic-containing foods when you're dealing with alcohol bloating. Generally, fermented foods are high in probiotic bacteria, including yoghurt, sauerkraut, tempeh, tofu, natto, miso, and pickles. Probiotic drinks like kefir and kombucha can also reduce alcohol bloating.

4. Take some digestive enzymes just before you eat

Your body produces digestive enzymes naturally, and they are released when you consume food. These enzymes help to catabolise food into smaller molecules that can be easily absorbed through the gut wall into the bloodstream.

You can take a digestive enzyme supplement when you’re dealing with alcohol bloating to try and reduce the severity of your symptoms. Digestive enzyme supplements will increase the rate of food breakdown, which prevents it from sitting in your gut for too long and causing you to feel full and bloated.

Ideally, you should take your digestive enzyme supplement just before you eat to support your body in breaking down your meals and snacks.


5. Exercise to get your body (and the food in your digestive tract moving) 

Physical activity is one of the best ways to get rid of bloating as it encourages food to pass quickly through the digestive tract.

Understandably, exercise isn’t always the first thing on people’s minds when they’re hungover and bloated. However, even something as simple as walking can do the trick to get rid of alcohol bloating.

6. Avoid gas-producing foods and drinks, and go for high-fibre foods instead

Alcohol bloating is exacerbated when you eat and drink gas-producing foods and beverages. To prevent your digestive symptoms from getting worse, avoid the following things during and after alcohol consumption:

  • Sugary fruits
  • Cruciferous vegetables
  • Beans and legumes
  • Fruit juice
  • Sodas
  • Energy drinks

High-fibre foods can improve your digestive health and help to eliminate bloating. When you’re preparing meals and snacks after drinking alcohol, make sure to include plenty of fibrous whole grains and vegetables, like wholewheat pasta, brown rice, buckwheat, oats, cauliflower, broccoli, and peas.

7. Choose high-potassium foods over salty foods

Salty foods are also a big mistake when you're hungover because salt increases water retention in the gut, worsening your abdominal bloating. Avoid junk foods that are usually packed full of salt and swap them for high-potassium snacks.

Potassium has the opposite effect of sodium (salt) and encourages water loss, which is exactly what you want when you're feeling bloated. Foods that are high in potassium include bananas avocadoes, dried fruit, spinach, broccoli, potatoes, and butternut squash.

8. Reduce the amount of air that you swallow

This one might sound unusual, and you’re probably wondering how you can reduce the amount of air that you swallow. But there are a couple of things that you can do!

Firstly, avoid chewing gum or candy, as doing so increases the volume of air that flows into your digestive tract. You should also make sure your dentures fit properly if you wear them. Poorly fitting dentures can cause you to swallow excessive amounts of air, which can increase bloating.

Avoid consuming fizzy drinks that increase gas in your digestive tract. When you’re eating, chew your food properly and eat more slowly to avoid swallowing too much air.


9. Avoid smoking while you’re drinking 

Smoking can cause you to swallow more air, and as we mentioned above, this increases abdominal bloating and discomfort. The carcinogens in cigarette smoking can inflame your digestive tract when ingested, further exacerbating digestive issues. If you want to minimise alcohol bloating, cut back on smoking during and after drinking.

10. Eat smaller meals and snacks if possible

Eating a lot of food in a short period of time can increase the risk and severity of boosting, which isn’t ideal when you’re already bloated from alcohol consumption. The day after drinking alcohol, try and split your breakfast, lunch, and dinner into several smaller meals and snacks to minimise bloating.

A Dose For Bloating – The Best Supplement to Tackle Alcohol Bloating

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Alcohol bloating is common but it’s not something that you should just put up with and push through! There are lots of simple things that are highly effective at reducing fluid retention and alcohol-related bloating.

From supplements to lifestyle changes to dietary adjustments, you can enjoy drinking your favourite alcoholic beverages without the risk of bloating with the top tips that we have talked about in this article.

Our Wild Dose supplement, A Dose for Bloating, is the perfect option when you’re tackling alcohol bloating. This supplement is made with one billion probiotics, six digestive enzymes, and seven different plant extracts to target bloating at its root. In just a few minutes, you can start feeling relief from your bloating!

Keep a box of A Dose for Bloating in your cupboard, ready to grab when you’re feeling bloated after a day or night of drinking. As always, if you have any questions about our supplement, don’t hesitate to get in touch with the team here at Wild Dose! We’re always happy to help!