If you have stomach or digestive issues and like to indulge in a bit of alcohol now and again. However, it can be challenging, especially since there is a wide variety of different alcoholic drinks with all different kinds of flavor profiles and ingredients. I have suffered from GERD for over 30 years, so I understand the issue intimately.
The good news is that there are some types of alcohol that are much less likely to negatively affect your digestive system than others.
Helpful Tip: If you have frequent heartburn and have to watch what you eat, I recommend getting this “Acid Reflux Cookbook,” which can be found on Amazon. It has a lot of ideas on how and what to cook at home as well as what to avoid eating while out.
To make alcohol, there is always at least one step: fermentation. This involves feeding sugar to yeast to create alcohol. With distilled spirits, like vodka. Then, there is a second step that helps to increase the alcohol percentage from around 16% to the 40% you would expect. This helps ensure that the majority of the byproducts left over from the fermentation process are filtered out.
So what does this mean in terms of vodka drinks and your stomach? Well, there’s a good chance that they will be less likely to cause or worsen your digestive issues. Vodka is considered one of the “cleanest” alcoholic drinks available, which means there are fewer ingredients that could trigger stomach issues than other options.
Vodka is gluten-free and is a low-FODMAP drink, and it is fine to consume if you are following the SCD diet. However, if you are dealing with acid reflux, you are better off choosing non-grain vodka as these tend to be lower in acidity. Vodka can be made from a wide range of foodstuffs, including grains, potatoes, soybeans, grapes, and more. So there are non-grain options available that will be low in acidity.
The main flavor in gin is always juniper berries, and it is mixed with a neutral alcohol that can be made from wheat, barley, potatoes, or grapes. Like vodka, this neutral alcohol has been fermented and distilled, so it is much easier on the stomach than other alcoholic drink choices. However, some flavored gins have other ingredients added to them after the distillation process, so it is always a good idea to take a look and make sure that there aren’t any ingredients included that you are sensitive to.
As with vodka, gin is both gluten-free and a low-FODMAP drink, and it can be consumed on the SCD diet. It is also one of the lowest acidity alcoholic drinks available, so it shouldn’t worsen your acid reflux.
Tequila is another distilled spirit that is made from the blue agave plant found in five areas of Mexico. Some tequila is made of 100% blue agave, but “mixto” tequila is made of at least 51% blue agave and the rest from cane sugar juice. In both cases, the distillation process will remove the excess sugars from the final product. Tequila is typically drunk neat, but it can also be used in cocktails.
Tequila is gluten-free, and the distillation process removes enough sugars to make it a low-FODMAP drink and to make it safe to consume on the SCD diet. It is also one of the lower acidic alcoholic drinks, so it can be imbibed even with acid reflux.
Whiskey is a distilled alcohol made from fermented grain mash. It differs from the other spirits listed here, like vodka, tequila, and gin, because there is an extra step in the process. After it has been fermented and distilled, whiskey is then aged in an oak barrel. This aging process needs to be a minimum of three years but is often much longer. The longer the aging process, the more sought after and expensive the whiskey is.
Whiskey is gluten-free and is a low-FODMAP drink that can also be consumed on the SCD diet. It is, however, moderately acidic, so it is essential to be careful if you are dealing with acid reflux.
Wine made from fermented grapes. The flavor of the wine can vary greatly depending on the species of grapes and the region in which they are grown, and it comes in a variety of types. Wine is generally separated into red and white, but you can also find sparkling wine where the wine is carbonated to make it sparkling. White wine can be either dry or sweet, and you can also find much sweeter dessert wines such as port and sherry.
When deciding whether or not you can drink wine if you have digestive issues, it gets a little complicated because of how much variety there is. Almost all wine is gluten-free because grapes don’t contain gluten, and none is used in the fermenting process. Some wine varieties do, however, have gluten added afterward, so it is important to check the ingredients.
Some wines are considered low-FODMAP, and some aren’t. You are usually safe with red wines and dry white wines, and some sweet white wines are also ok. Generally speaking, you should avoid dessert wines because they have added sugar afterward to make them sweeter. Wine is considered an acidic drink, so it may make acid reflux worse. Wine can usually be consumed on the SCD diet.
Beer is made from grain, hops, yeast, and water. It is one of the oldest beverages in the world, with even ancient civilizations drinking beer regularly. Making beer is called brewing, and it involves heating and cooling the water, hops, and malted barley. Yeast is then added to start the fermentation process to make it alcoholic. Beer tends to be much lower in alcohol content than spirits and wine, making it easier on the stomach.
Beer is very rarely gluten-free because its ingredients contain gluten, and they aren’t distilled out. However, some companies now offer gluten-free options, so it is always worth looking out for them. Surprisingly, beer is a low-FODMAP drink, so it is ok to have it if you follow that diet. However, it is high in acid and is often carbonated, which can make acid reflux and heartburn worse.
What About Mixers?
Most of the alcoholic drinks that are good to drink when you have digestive issues will be distilled spirits, and the best way to drink them is neat. But some people prefer to drink spirits with mixers. So if you are going to do that, you should be careful because some mixers can worsen your digestive issues.
It is generally best to avoid sugary cocktails if you are following a low-FODMAP or SCD diet. However, if you are ok with carbonated drinks, seltzer or club soda can be a good mixer choice that is quite natural and shouldn’t affect your stomach. Otherwise, tomato juice or cranberry juice can both be good options. They are quite low in sugar, but both are acidic, so it might be a good idea to avoid them if you have acid reflux.
What Alcohol Is Easiest on the Stomach?
Generally speaking, the safest bet with alcohol is to go for distilled alcoholic drinks. These have been fermented to make them alcoholic, and then they have been distilled, which removes the majority of the byproducts involved in the fermenting process. In addition, the drinks are usually left with much fewer ingredients that could trigger stomach issues because of the distillation.
Which Alcohol Does Not Cause Acidity?
Most alcoholic drinks are at least a little acidic, but some are more acidic than others. Distilled alcoholic beverages tend to be less acidic than drinks like beer and wine, with the lowest acid level being in gin and tequila.
What Wine Is Easier on the Stomach?
There are many different types of wines available, but, generally speaking, red wine is easier on the stomach than white wine, including white sparkling wine and dessert wines like port or sherry. Red wine is lower in acidity than white wine, and it has fewer sugars than a dessert wine. Research also shows that red wine can actually help to improve your gut health by increasing the diversity of bacteria and relaxing your stomach wall.
Best Alcoholic Drinks for IBS Sufferers
Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a common condition that affects the digestive system, and it can give rise to painful and uncomfortable symptoms, such as bloating, stomach cramps, and diarrhea. It isn’t always clear what can trigger an IBS episode, but many people living with the condition try to avoid certain foods.
Many people with IBS find that limiting their intake of fermentable carbohydrates can help to ease their symptoms. Following a low-FODMAP diet can help achieve this, and there are some alcoholic drinks that would fit with this diet. These can include distilled spirits like gin, vodka, tequila, and whiskey, as well as beer and dry white or red wine.
Best Alcohol for Stomach Ulcer
Stomach ulcers are open sores that develop in your stomach lining and can be very painful. It used to be thought that alcohol could cause stomach ulcers, but we now know that this isn’t the case. Instead, some alcoholic drinks can make the symptoms of stomach ulcers worse. If you are dealing with a stomach ulcer, but you would like to have a drink, it is best to avoid drinks that are too acidic. Some of the lower-acidity drinks include gin and tequila.
Tips to Drinking Alcohol Without Affecting Your Stomach
People living with certain digestive conditions will often try to follow the specific carbohydrate diet (SCD), which limits the grains that can make them worse. This can be a helpful diet for people with Crohn’s, celiacs disease, ulcerative colitis, diverticulitis, and cystic fibrosis. People with IBS, on the other hand, will often follow the low-FODMAP diet.
FODMAP stands for fermentable oligo-di-mono-saccharides and polyols. These are types of carbohydrates that can make the symptoms of IBS worse. People with celiac disease will also need to avoid gluten as it triggers their immune system to attack their bodies when they eat gluten.
These diets can be quite restrictive, but it doesn’t always mean that you can’t have alcohol. Some alcoholic drinks can be fine to consume and can be relatively easy on the stomach.
There is no doubt that alcohol can have a negative effect on your stomach, whether you are dealing with a chronic digestive issue or not. That doesn’t necessarily mean that you need to give up alcohol altogether, but being mindful about the types of alcohol you are drinking can help, as can taking some precautions. These can include:
1) Drink spirits
Distilled spirits like tequila, gin, vodka, and whiskey are lower in the byproducts of fermentation that could affect your stomach. More than that, however, as long as you drink your spirits straight, you will be sipping them slowly. This means that you will be overloading your stomach with less liquid that could make you queasy, and you will also likely drink less alcohol overall, lowering your risk of getting a sour stomach.
2) Line your stomach
Drinking on an empty stomach is a recipe for disaster, so if you are going to have a drink, it is vital to make sure that you eat enough beforehand. Having a stomach full of food, especially food that takes a while to digest, such as protein-rich and fatty foods, will help to slow down the rate at which alcohol is absorbed into your system, and it will also help protect your digestive system.
3) Alternate your drinks
Just because you are drinking alcohol, that doesn’t mean that you should only drink alcohol. Alternating your alcoholic drinks with soft drinks, ideally water, will help stop you from drinking too much alcohol too quickly and give it a chance to absorb more slowly into your system. This should give you the best chance of protecting your stomach.
Drinking alcohol can be enjoyable, but if you are dealing with stomach problems, you may think that alcohol is off the menu for you. In fact, this doesn’t have to be the case. As long as you are careful about the type of alcohol you are drinking and how you drink, there’s no reason you shouldn’t be able to indulge every now and again without getting a sour stomach.
Thanks for reading!
For more, don’t miss 15 Best Alcoholic Drinks for Beginners or Lightweights.
Disclaimer: I am not a medical professional so anything in this article is gained from research or personal experience. Please talk to a doctor or nutritionist about your specific needs when it comes to whether or not you should drink alcohol or which types to consume.
Anne James has a wealth of expertise in a wide array of interests, including quilting, cooking, gardening, camping, and making jelly.
She has a professional canning business and has been featured in the local newspaper, and has been her family canner for decades. Anyone growing up in the South knows that there is always a person in the family who has knowledge of the “old ways,” and this is exactly what Anne is.
With over 55 years of experience in these endeavors, she brings a level of hands-on knowledge that is hard to surpass.
Lovingly known as “Jelly Grandma” by her grandkids, Anne hopes your visit here has been a sweet one.