Alcohol, in moderation, can be an enjoyable addition to a social occasion. However, more and more we are seeing the effects of excess alcohol consumption on people’s physical and mental health and on their gut health.

Women’s livers are smaller than male livers and as a result women are less efficient at metabolising alcohol and more sensitive to its effects.

Glass of red wine, cheeses and grapes on brown wooden background

From the gut health perspective, alcohol can affect every part of your digestive system. Here are a few of its effects:

  • It can cause heartburn and gastro-oesophageal reflux disease (GORD)
  • It can damage the liver leading to a condition known as cirrhosis
  • Alcohol can have a negative effect on the GM.
  • Alcohol is high in calories and this can contribute to weight gain
  • It triggers IBS and FD symptoms

The Gut Experts’ Alcohol Advice

  • If you suffer with IBS, the less alcohol you drink, the better your gut symptoms
  • Stay within the recommended low-risk guidelines for alcohol consumption in your country

In Ireland this is a maximum of 11 standard drinks per week for women and 17 standard drinks per week for men. In Ireland one standard drink has approximately 10 grams of pure alcohol and is typically one half pint of normal beer, 100ml of 12.5% wine or 35ml of spirits.

In the UK the low-risk guidelines for both men and women are up to 14 units per week. A unit of alcohol in the UK has approximately 8 grams of pure alcohol. Typically in the UK one half pint of normal beer is 1.1 units, 125ml of 13% wine is 1.6 units and 25ml of spirits is 1 unit.

A number of countries use 10 grams as their standard drink measure including France, Italy, Spain, Italy, New Zealand and Australia whilst others like the US use 14g as its standard drink measure.

Your alcohol intake should be spread over the week and it’s recommended that you have at least 2 alcohol free days each week.

Diet Plan and learn more about how and why you need to take a holistic approach to managing IBS in our book, What Every Woman Needs to Know About Her Gut here.

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