beer and poop: why is there a correlation?
I'm thirty years old and have had diarrhea about two times a month for the past few years. I know this isn't exactly "normal." Over the past few months, I've noticed that I will have diarrhea, sometimes severe, after simply drinking a beer or two. I am a true beer lover, not just one to get drunk. I've found that the only way to prevent it is to take Immodium AD before enjoying my drink. Is there any help for me?
I have spent quite a bit of time doing research on this question for you. Poop Report's Dr. Adams responded to a question similar to yours by saying that alcohol is basically a poison, and thus the body reacts to it as such.
I have come to the conclusion however, that unlike other forms of alcohol, beer is quite unique in its diarrhea-inducing abilities. Here's why.
While there are many different recipes and brewing practices in the manufacturing of this phenomenal beverage, there are two very important common denominators: grains and yeast.
The most common ingredients used in making beer are barley--which is a basic cereal grain--and hops, a flowering vine used for flavoring. Yeast is added to these to cause fermentation which produces the alcohol content in the beer.
In an attempt to learn more about the gastrointestinal effects of beer, I read a complete study titled "The Quantitative Analysis of the Digestion of Yeast". That was simply a waste of time, as I did not understand one single word. So I will stick with what I do know about grains and yeast for now.
Beer is made from grain. Grain is a source of dietary fiber. The brewing process intensifies the potency of the fiber. The colon has bacteria that normally aide in digestion by fermenting sources of dietary fiber that could not be broken down by the enzymes in the stomach and small intestine. The alcohol in the beer possibly intoxicates the bacteria, causing them to not do their job properly. Absorption of water by the colon is disrupted because of the imbalance created by the onslaught of all the extra fiber juice and yeast. The yeast goes into overdrive with the slacking off of the good bacteria and multiplies rapidly, producing yeast waste which would appear as a frothy substance resulting in foamy diarrhea.
So we have learned that beer is a source of soluble fiber which is derived from the cell walls of malted barley. A liter of beer contains an average of 20% of the recommended daily intake of fiber and some beers can provide up to 60%.
It may be helpful to try different brands of beer in order to find one that has a fiber content more agreeable with your system.
Thanks for asking Motherload!
Motherload is a Certified Nurse Assistant as well as an IBS sufferer, which means she knows a lot about poop. Got a question for her? Ask it here.