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Drinking Habits

Why Does Alcohol Cause Bloating?

Published:
June 27, 2023
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8 min read
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Reframe Content Team
A team of researchers and psychologists who specialize in behavioral health and neuroscience. This group collaborates to produce insightful and evidence-based content.
June 27, 2023
·
8 min read
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Certified recovery coach specialized in helping everyone redefine their relationship with alcohol. His approach in coaching focuses on habit formation and addressing the stress in our lives.
June 27, 2023
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8 min read
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Recognized by Fortune and Fast Company as a top innovator shaping the future of health and known for his pivotal role in helping individuals change their relationship with alcohol.
June 27, 2023
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8 min read
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Reframe Content Team
June 27, 2023
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8 min read

Bloating: that uncomfortable sensation of being filled like a helium balloon. It can be a pesky side effect of Friday night wine, or an aftermath of a more indulgent weekend. But what does alcohol have to do with it? Let’s find out answers to these questions and others like does alcohol cause bloating, how to get rid of bloating from alcohol, and more! 

Alcohol and Digestion

Does alcohol make you bloated? As far as the digestive system is concerned, alcohol is a major disruption, hence why bloating after drinking alcohol is so common. There are several reasons for bloating after alcohol — all of which play a role in alcohol-induced bloating. 

The Gas-Generating Duo: Sugar and Yeast

Most alcoholic drinks — especially beer and cocktails — are brimming with sugars and yeast. During digestion, these substances are fermented by our gut bacteria, creating a medley of carbon dioxide, hydrogen, and even methane. The result is an increase in gas, the root cause of our bloating woes. 

Moreover, yeast can also disrupt our gut flora, the complex community of microorganisms that reside in our gut. A significant imbalance (often caused by an overgrowth of certain types of yeast like Candida) can lead to digestive issues including — you guessed it! — bloating. This is why a cheeky pint might be associated with that feeling of beer bloat or beer bloating. 

Candida is a type of yeast, a small fungus, normally found in the human body without causing any harm. However, when it begins to overgrow, it starts to dominate other microorganisms in the gut, resulting in a condition called candidiasis. 

Candidiasis causes bloating in a couple of different ways. For one thing, Candida has a sweet tooth. In its quest to consume the available sugar in our gut, Candida ferments it, leading to the production of gasses like carbon dioxide. 

An overgrowth of Candida can also cause inflammation in the gut lining. In response to this inflammation, the body retains water in the gut area, leading to a bloated sensation. 

Slow Motion

Bloating from alcohol comes in multiple stages. Under normal conditions, our stomach breaks down food into a semi-liquid form, then contracts to propel this mixture into the small intestine. Alcohol interferes with these rhythmic contractions, leading to a slowdown in the gastric emptying process.

As a result of this delay, food stays in the stomach for a longer period than usual. This causes our stomach to stretch, and voila! We experience that uncomfortable sensation we know as bloating.

The delay also means that the food in our stomach starts to ferment (thanks, stomach bacteria!) — leading to the production of gasses. More gasses lead to more bloating.

Moreover, the slowdown in gastric emptying can lead to a build-up of stomach acids, further contributing to bloating and discomfort by causing the stomach to expand. Let’s learn more about how alcohol and bloating come into play, especially in ways you may not expect.

Dehydration Dilemma: Can Dehydration Cause Bloating? 

Drinking alcohol can often lead to dehydration. When that happens, we’re more than just thirsty: when we’re dehydrated, our body doesn’t have enough water to carry out its normal functions. How does this connect to bloating? Dehydration causes our body to hoard water, leading to water retention — and, consequently, bloating. 

The Salty Suspect

Another sneaky bloating suspect lies in the salty snacks we often pair with our drinks. Pretzels, peanuts, or chips — they're salty, delicious, and oh-so-addictive! Yet, high sodium levels in our body create a ripple effect, calling for more water to balance out the excess salt. The result? Water retention and bloating.

Deflating the Belly Balloon: How To Get Rid of Bloating From Alcohol

Now, equipped with the knowledge of how alcohol contributes to bloating, let's turn these insights into action. Here are some steps we can take to keep alcohol bloating at bay:

  • Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate! While it may sound counterintuitive, drinking water can actually help reduce bloating caused by dehydration and alcohol water retention. During a night out, remember to alternate between alcoholic beverages and water to maintain our body’s hydration levels.
  • Mindful munching. Next time you reach for a snack with our drink, make a conscious effort to choose less salty options.
  • Savor the slow sip. By taking it slowly and savoring our beverages, we give our bodies more time to process the alcohol, helping prevent that slow traffic jam in the stomach.
  • Listen to your gut. Often, our body tells us when it's had enough. We need to listen and respect its signals. If you start feeling bloated, it might be a good idea to switch to non-alcoholic options.
  • Movement matters. A brisk walk or a little post-drinking dance-off can kick start digestion and ease a bloated stomach from alcohol.
  • Mind the mix. Choose drinks lower in sugar and yeast. Light beer, dry wines, or clear spirits mixed with soda water can be a good starting point.

But how long does alcohol bloating last? It's important to remember that everyone's body is different, and what works for one one of us might not work for someone else. By understanding our bodies and making small, intentional changes, we can navigate this wellness journey, deflating that belly balloon and saying goodbye to alcohol bloat.

In the end, it’s about progress, not perfection. Even if you choose just one action from the list above, you’re one step closer to a healthier, happier version of yourself. And that’s something to celebrate! 

Bloating: that uncomfortable sensation of being filled like a helium balloon. It can be a pesky side effect of Friday night wine, or an aftermath of a more indulgent weekend. But what does alcohol have to do with it? Let’s find out answers to these questions and others like does alcohol cause bloating, how to get rid of bloating from alcohol, and more! 

Alcohol and Digestion

Does alcohol make you bloated? As far as the digestive system is concerned, alcohol is a major disruption, hence why bloating after drinking alcohol is so common. There are several reasons for bloating after alcohol — all of which play a role in alcohol-induced bloating. 

The Gas-Generating Duo: Sugar and Yeast

Most alcoholic drinks — especially beer and cocktails — are brimming with sugars and yeast. During digestion, these substances are fermented by our gut bacteria, creating a medley of carbon dioxide, hydrogen, and even methane. The result is an increase in gas, the root cause of our bloating woes. 

Moreover, yeast can also disrupt our gut flora, the complex community of microorganisms that reside in our gut. A significant imbalance (often caused by an overgrowth of certain types of yeast like Candida) can lead to digestive issues including — you guessed it! — bloating. This is why a cheeky pint might be associated with that feeling of beer bloat or beer bloating. 

Candida is a type of yeast, a small fungus, normally found in the human body without causing any harm. However, when it begins to overgrow, it starts to dominate other microorganisms in the gut, resulting in a condition called candidiasis. 

Candidiasis causes bloating in a couple of different ways. For one thing, Candida has a sweet tooth. In its quest to consume the available sugar in our gut, Candida ferments it, leading to the production of gasses like carbon dioxide. 

An overgrowth of Candida can also cause inflammation in the gut lining. In response to this inflammation, the body retains water in the gut area, leading to a bloated sensation. 

Slow Motion

Bloating from alcohol comes in multiple stages. Under normal conditions, our stomach breaks down food into a semi-liquid form, then contracts to propel this mixture into the small intestine. Alcohol interferes with these rhythmic contractions, leading to a slowdown in the gastric emptying process.

As a result of this delay, food stays in the stomach for a longer period than usual. This causes our stomach to stretch, and voila! We experience that uncomfortable sensation we know as bloating.

The delay also means that the food in our stomach starts to ferment (thanks, stomach bacteria!) — leading to the production of gasses. More gasses lead to more bloating.

Moreover, the slowdown in gastric emptying can lead to a build-up of stomach acids, further contributing to bloating and discomfort by causing the stomach to expand. Let’s learn more about how alcohol and bloating come into play, especially in ways you may not expect.

Dehydration Dilemma: Can Dehydration Cause Bloating? 

Drinking alcohol can often lead to dehydration. When that happens, we’re more than just thirsty: when we’re dehydrated, our body doesn’t have enough water to carry out its normal functions. How does this connect to bloating? Dehydration causes our body to hoard water, leading to water retention — and, consequently, bloating. 

The Salty Suspect

Another sneaky bloating suspect lies in the salty snacks we often pair with our drinks. Pretzels, peanuts, or chips — they're salty, delicious, and oh-so-addictive! Yet, high sodium levels in our body create a ripple effect, calling for more water to balance out the excess salt. The result? Water retention and bloating.

Deflating the Belly Balloon: How To Get Rid of Bloating From Alcohol

Now, equipped with the knowledge of how alcohol contributes to bloating, let's turn these insights into action. Here are some steps we can take to keep alcohol bloating at bay:

  • Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate! While it may sound counterintuitive, drinking water can actually help reduce bloating caused by dehydration and alcohol water retention. During a night out, remember to alternate between alcoholic beverages and water to maintain our body’s hydration levels.
  • Mindful munching. Next time you reach for a snack with our drink, make a conscious effort to choose less salty options.
  • Savor the slow sip. By taking it slowly and savoring our beverages, we give our bodies more time to process the alcohol, helping prevent that slow traffic jam in the stomach.
  • Listen to your gut. Often, our body tells us when it's had enough. We need to listen and respect its signals. If you start feeling bloated, it might be a good idea to switch to non-alcoholic options.
  • Movement matters. A brisk walk or a little post-drinking dance-off can kick start digestion and ease a bloated stomach from alcohol.
  • Mind the mix. Choose drinks lower in sugar and yeast. Light beer, dry wines, or clear spirits mixed with soda water can be a good starting point.

But how long does alcohol bloating last? It's important to remember that everyone's body is different, and what works for one one of us might not work for someone else. By understanding our bodies and making small, intentional changes, we can navigate this wellness journey, deflating that belly balloon and saying goodbye to alcohol bloat.

In the end, it’s about progress, not perfection. Even if you choose just one action from the list above, you’re one step closer to a healthier, happier version of yourself. And that’s something to celebrate! 

Beat the Bloat For Good With Reframe!

Even though the Reframe app isn't a cure for alcohol use disorder (AUD), it's a handy tool to help you lower your alcohol intake bit by bit. And guess what? We'll have your back with some solid science-based info the whole way! Tons of people around the world have used our program to cut back on drinking, and we're psyched to get you on board, too!

With Reframe, you won’t just scrape by — you'll be thriving while you're on this journey. Backed by scientific research, our daily readings will give you the lowdown on how alcohol interacts with your brain. Plus, our in-app Toolkit is packed with resources and activities to tackle each hurdle head-on.

Get ready to make friends with hundreds of other Reframers in our 24/7 Forum chat and daily Zoom check-ins. There's nothing like a bit of encouragement from people all over the world who are in the same boat as you! For more personalized support, you can always touch base with our licensed Reframe coaches.

To keep things fresh, we're constantly rolling out new features to make your app experience top-notch. You’ll meet Melody — our brand new in-app chatbot, built with some of the best AI tech in the world. Melody is here to assist as you navigate a life with less (or maybe even no) alcohol. 

But wait, there's more! Every month, we kick off fun challenges such as Dry/Damp January, Mental Health May, and Outdoorsy June. You definitely don't want to miss jumping in alongside fellow Reframers — or solo if you prefer.

The best part? You can give the Reframe app a spin for free for the first 7 days! So, why not give it a shot? If you’re pumped to take control and see what life's like with less alcohol, hit the download button for our app today!

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