IBS And Alcohol

Can IBS sufferers drink alcohol?


I have been blogging on IBS and low FODMAP diet for a while now and recently the question came up from somebody asking about the relationship between IBS And Alcohol. Can IBS sufferers still have a drink without having nasty IBS symptoms?

Despite not drinking any alcohol, I thought that some people may be interested to know, so I have decided to write about it.

To do my research I have primarily consulted my faithful Low FODMAP iPhone app from Monash University, it’s very simple to understand, the green light indicates that the food or the drink is low FODMAP, the amber that is medium and the red one indicates that it is high on FODMAPs. Low, medium and high refer to a specific amount of that food or drink.

The low FODMAP app is a really useful tool for those following a low-FODMAP diet, but in the case you don’t have a smartphone or are unable to purchase it or download it, I have compiled a list that you can print out.

Can alcohol flare up IBS?

Generally speaking IBS and alcohol are not the best of friends. In fact, alcohol is notorious as a gut irritant.

Saying that there are some alcoholic drinks that will not harm your bowels and bloat you up, as much as others. A limited consumption of those drinks and always with food is advised. Alcohol as such may not flare up the IBS, but the FODMAPs in it might, especially the fructose content. High FODMAP alcohol will lead to all the discomfort of diarrhea and/or constipation and all other symptoms that are familiar with IBS sufferers.

Is alcohol low or high FODMAP?

It depends on the type of alcohol really. According to Monash University study the real bad alcohol for IBS sufferers are rum, sticky wine and wine with low glycaemic index, as they all contain high amount of fructose and therefore fall under the high FODMAP spectrum.

How much alcohol is ok to have on a low FODMAP diet?

Even if some alcoholic drinks have the green light, it is never advisable to consume alcohol (on a low FODMAP diet or not) in large quantity. 



Going straight to the point according to Monash University, these are the alcohol drinks that have been tested and their safe quantity, in term of low FODMAPs:

Beer – 1 can (375 ml)

Gin, Vodka, Whiskey – 1 serve (30 ml)

Red Wine, Sparkling Wine, Sweet Wine, White Wine, Dry White Wine – 1 glass (150 ml)

What I found interesting is that beer in moderation (1 can) it’s ok, even though it is made from grains such as wheat and barley, which are high FODMAPs food. Apparently in the process of making the beer only a small amount of wheat and barley remains, which is not going to cause a problem for IBS sufferers, unless they are also celiac or allergic to gluten.

In any case one should always read the labels on the bottle, to make sure that they are not choosing a high FODMAP drink and  try to have some food with it.

Also clarify with the dietician if drinking alcohol is suitable for you, despite being low FODMAP, there may be other reasons why you should not drink it. 

Apart from the effects of IBS, alcohol can causes damages to liver, pancreas, heart, brain etc., it could lead to obesity and other health issues. And if you are in digestive distress of some sort, it would definitely be ideal to stay away from it altogether or practice restraint like many IBS sufferers do.

Now that you know the fact, you can make your mind up.

If you are struggling with IBS and the low FODMAP diet, here you can find a list of food and their FODMAP content (based on Monash University smartphone app).

Also an article on some of the best selling books on the subject.

Until next time, take good care.

xo Larah


About Larah

I have been suffering from Irritable Bowel Syndrome for many years, but it took a longtime to get a diagnosis, since then I have been following a low FODMAP diet, which has changed my life for the better. This is my story and experience with IBS and the low FODMAP diet.

16 comments on “IBS And Alcohol

  1. I’ve been wondering about the connection between IBS and alcohol! Thanks for this post. Definitely gonna pass this one on to my friends who suffer from IBS. It’ll probably cut out a lot of suffering for them!

    • Hello Heather, it is good that you care for your friends, especially they may have not yet realised that drinking alcohol can cause their IBS to flare up more.

  2. I came on the search for info on down sides of taking alcohol with IBS (irritable bowel syndrome). Found this helpful thanks.

  3. Never knew alcohol had an adverse effect on my IBS I usually go by the quote β€œIn wine there is wisdom, in beer there is Freedom, in water there is bacteria.” Reading this has given me a change of mind. Thanks for the enlightening post Larah!

    • lol Mark, lots of people go by that quote, unfortunately if you have IBS you’ll pay sooner, rather than later πŸ˜‰

  4. I’ve always been one to drink alcohol in moderation (yes, I even said “no” during the footy Grand Final celebrations), so it’s great to hear my drinking choices aren’t having a negative affect on my IBS. Cheers for the article and research Larah!

    • Thank you for your comment and for reading my post Stephanie. If alcohol can be avoided, I guess it’s always better, but at least those who still want to have a drink, they now know which alcohol is low FODMAP and which is not. Take good care.

  5. I agree. I have the same problem – not necessarily with alcohol, but with food. I get tempted and eat things I shouldn’t then end up paying for it later. Eventually you come to the realization that it’s just not worth it. I’m glad I’ve never been a big drinker, so at least this isn’t usually a problem.

  6. I always make this mistake – I get caught in the moment and drink more than I should, sure enough my IBS flares up.

    • Hey Henry, don’t beat yourself up. It is not easy to come to term with what is ok and what is too much with the low FODMAP diet. You’ll see eventually the downside of the flare up will be enough to discourage any overindulging with food or drinks. All the best.

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