Why Does Beer Make Me Poop? (Tips to Prevent!)

Have you ever finished a refreshing beer or six, only to find yourself heading for the john afterwards? If so, you’re not alone! And if you’ve ever wondered, “Why does beer make me poop?”, you’ve come to the right place.

We’re going to investigate this less-than-ideal side effect and find out what causes it. And we’ll see if there’s anything you can do to stop your beer interfering with your innards!

So step this way to find out more …

Why Does Beer Make Me Poop? (Tips to Prevent!)1

Different folks experience different effects

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To start with, it’s worth pointing out that not everyone experiences the same effects after drinking beer. Of course, part of that will be down to what you’ve drunk and how much you’ve consumed. But everyone’s digestive system is different too.

Some lucky people find that beer has little or no effect on their bathroom breaks. For others, unpleasant poop and diarrhea can be the result. And in some cases, people experience the opposite problem – uncomfortable constipation.

But although not everyone finds that beer has them heading for the smallest room, many of us do. So why does that happen?

What’s the key ingredient?

Beer is made up of water, hops, yeast and malt. But none of these individual ingredients in themselves cause problems for your digestive system. Instead, it’s the alcohol produced in the fermenting process that affects your gut.

The more you drink, and the stronger the beer, the bigger the likely effect. And for most people, beverages with even higher alcohol levels, like whiskey or vodka, will be even worse. (Volume does come into effect here, though, as liquor drinkers tend to drink less.)

So alcohol is the culprit. But what exactly does it do?

Beer and the water in your body

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Alcohol is a toxin. As soon as it enters your system, your body gets to work to remove it as quickly as possible.

Your pituitary gland starts to decrease the production of a hormone called vasopressin. Vasopressin controls how your body absorbs water. With less of it in your system, the amount of water that’s absorbed from your kidneys is reduced too.

The most immediate effect of this is that you need to pee more often. If you’ve been chugging beers all evening, you’ll doubtless have had to go to the bathroom a lot.

But that excess moisture also finds its way into your bowel. That means that your poop becomes softer, or even liquid.

The role of ethanol

So a reduction in vasopressin goes some way to explaining what’s going on. But it isn’t the whole story.

Alcohol contains ethanol – and ethanol makes the contents of your intestines move more quickly. Food and nutrients leave your stomach in a little lump, called a bolus. This then travels down your small and large intestine and into your colon, before being expelled.

Your small and large intestines are very long – you have 27 feet of them tucked into your gut. Their muscles flex behind and in front of the bolus, pushing it along in a process called peristalsis. All that intestine gives time for the water and nutrients to be absorbed into your body while this happens.

Ethanol, however, impairs some of those muscle movements, which speeds up peristalsis. That means the bolus passes through your gut much quicker than it would do normally. And that means there’s less time for the water to be absorbed, and your poop is more liquid.

It also results in trips to the bathroom that are rather more explosive than usual!

Alcohol irritates the digestive tract

If all that wasn’t enough, alcohol also increases the amount of acid in your stomach. This, in turn, irritates the lining of your stomach and intestines. The result is that they’re less able to absorb water and nutrients. It’s another reason for there being more liquid in your stool.

Together with the lower levels of vasopressin inhibiting water retention, and the ethanol speeding up peristalsis, you have a perfect storm. And you’re heading to the john before you can say, “I only meant to have one beer.”

So why do some people get constipated?

Why Does Beer Make Me Poop? (Tips to Prevent!)4

All this explains why soft poop and diarrhea often result from drinking too much beer. But how on earth does it explain why some people suffer from constipation instead?

The evidence for this is less clear. However, it appears that there’s a link between high concentrations of alcohol and slower bowel movements. The greater the concentration of alcohol, the more likely you are to have problems.

Constipation is therefore more likely to be an issue for liquor drinkers than beer lovers. Liquor often has an alcohol content of 40 percent. Most beers, on the other hand, hover around the 5 percent mark.

How to prevent problems

The most obvious way to prevent problems with your digestive system is to drink less beer! But there are other things you can do too.

A good starting point is to understand the effect that alcohol has on your body. Try keeping a drinking diary and record how you feel. (This is also a good way of seeing exactly how much alcohol you’re drinking. Many people find they under-estimate this.)

Some people will find that they have different reactions to different drinks. The tannins in wine can upset some stomachs, while beer will leave them largely unaffected. People who are intolerant to gluten, on the other hand, may have the opposite experience.

Think about what else you eat and drink

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  • Making sure you stay hydrated whilst you drink will help too. That will mean that the alcohol is diluted as it enters your body, reducing its effects. Try drinking a glass of water for every beer you have. That will also slow you down and lessen the amount of alcohol you drink overall.
  • It’s also a good idea to eat a balanced meal before you drink too much. The food in your stomach and intestines will lessen the irritant effect of the alcohol. Foods high in fiber are particularly good, as they move more slowly through your gut.
  • And if you don’t have time for a full meal, a fiber supplement is worth thinking about. A couple of teaspoons of chia seeds before you head out can make all the difference. Some also suggest eating yogurt with probiotics and boosting your vitamin intake with a multivitamin.
  • It’s worth remembering that the other things you eat and drink alongside your beer can make a difference too. Caffeine also speeds up gut motility, so steer clear of Red Bulls alongside your beer!
  • And spicy and greasy foods can irritate your stomach lining too. So when the urge for a kebab or curry strikes, try to resist! Choose pasta, toast or whole grains instead – your stomach will thank you for it.

Getting medical advice

Most of the time, running to the john after a heavy night is just one of the consequences of drinking too much. You can tell yourself you’ll know better next time, and move on with your life.

But sometimes diarrhea or soft stools persist for longer. If you find you’re heading to the loo more than ten times a day, or still having problems after 48 hours, it’s a good idea to contact a doctor. They may be able to prescribe medication that can clear up the issues.

And if you experience serious fatigue, weakness or dizziness, contact your doctor straight away. If you are severely dehydrated, you will require medical attention.

If you have any concerns about your drinking, there are lots of people out there who can help. You can find out more and access support here.

Your three-stage action plan

So armed with all this information, what do you do to keep the dreaded post-beer poops at bay?

We like to think of it in three stages – before, during, and after your big night out.

First, learn from your previous experience! If ten beers have you running for the bathroom the next day, try drinking six instead. Or even four.

Line your stomach with a good meal before you start drinking. And if there’s no time for that, guzzle a piece of wholemeal toast or a couple of teaspoons of chia seeds. That fiber will help keep the beer from shooting through your system too quickly.

While you’re drinking, stick to your limits. A glass of water between every pint will help you stay hydrated. Avoid drinking caffeine-laden drinks alongside your beer. And don’t be tempted to get a late-night curry or kebab!

And the next day, get out that drinking diary! Record what you drank and the after-effects – if any. That way, you’ll have all the information you need to adjust your regime next time!

Ready to brave your next beer?

You’re now armed with everything you need to understand why beer can make you poop – and stop pooping!

Perhaps unsurprisingly, it’s alcohol that’s to blame. The good news is that means switching to a low-alcohol or alcohol-free option could help.

And if you follow our three-stage guide, you’ll have a great chance of avoiding the dreaded aftermath of your night out. We hope you enjoy your next beer without any unwanted side-effects!

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