We’re all friends here, you can be honest. Between all the festivities and toasts to merrier days, have you noticed that your poo is a little... weird? While none of us are thrilled at the concept of an irregular stool, the cause may be really simple: alcohol.
Of course, people who drink alcohol know that it’s not good for the body and that’s not why we drink it but the quantities we indulge in at this time of year especially could be impacting our toilet habits and make our poos a lot less comfortable.
This is because alcohol interferes with the time it takes for food to go through your gut, known as “transit time”.
Specifically, boozing impacts the muscles of the stomach and small intestine.
What alcohol does to your poo
One problem that drinkers face is dehydration.
While dehydration can contribute to us getting drunker and cause the famous hangover headaches the next day, according to Web MD, it can also cause constipation.
This is because alcohol suppresses the release of vasopressin, a hormone that helps the body hang onto fluid by preventing water from going out in urine. Less of this hormone means that you’ll need to pee more (break the seal anyone?) but can also lead to your body releasing more fluid than usual, resulting in constipation.
Additionally, you might want to put the spirits down for a while as the type of alcohol you drink can impact your bowels, too. Drinks with a high alcohol content — more than 15% — can slow down the transit time.
Web MD recommends staying hydrated while drinking to ensure that things can keep ticking over.
If you already have bowel issues such as inflammatory bowel disease or Crohns, alcohol can trigger a flare, resulting in diarrhoea, abdominal pain and blood in the stool.
Does alcohol change poo colours?
If you’ve ever looked into the toilet after boozing and passing a stool, you may have been confronted with an unusually green, red, or blue poo (festive!) and while this may be understandably alarming, it is likely that the alcohol you drank contributed to it.
The colour of poo is down to the food you eat and bile which is a yellow-green fluid that your body makes to digest fats. However, food and drinks with colourings such as novelty cocktails or even beetroots can change the colour of stools.
If it continues, though, or occurs without drinking or eating anything that you link it back to, speak to your GP.
How to protect the bowel when drinking alcohol
Medical News Today recommends that if you’re going to be drinking alcohol, ensure that you eat a meal before drinking, drink in moderation and avoid mixing alcohol with caffeinated drinks such as coffee or energy drinks as these can irritate the bowel, too.