A New Twist on Holiday Cocktails

Posted on December 14, 2015
holiday drink

Alcohol is in abundance at many holiday get-togethers. You’ll find it in the punch bowl, have a choice of seasonal cocktails, or be offered a different wine at each course during dinner. No matter how tempted you are to indulge in adult drinks, you might want to think twice if imbibing in alcohol causes you intestinal discomfort and gas.

Alcohol Intolerance

There are several reasons alcohol can lead to gastrointestinal complaints. If you are alcohol intolerant you may have problems with alcohol and specific grains. When your digestive system struggles to digest certain ingredients in an alcoholic beverage, common bacteria can interact with the undigested part of the drink and cause gas. If the gas is not expelled through belching or passing gas, what remains in your digestive system will cause your lower abdomen to swell, causing discomfort. In addition, the sugars in alcohol and the mixers and juices used in cocktails can exacerbate intestinal symptoms.

Medical Issues
There are specific medical conditions which can predispose people to react negatively to alcoholic drinks. People who suffer from irritable bowel syndrome also develop bloating from alcohol consumption, as do people who have celiac disease. The auto-immune disorder cases the lining of the intestines to react when exposed to the gluten found in wheat, rye and barley – common ingredients in many liquors.

Alcohol Metabolism

When you drink alcoholic beverages, 20 percent is absorbed through your stomach lining and the other 80 percent is absorbed by your small intestine. Approximately two to eight percent is lost through sweat, urine or your breath. The remaining 92 to 98 percent is metabolized through your liver, where enzymes break down the alcohol. Reducing your overall consumption of alcohol can help reduce your issues with gas.

Charcoal Relief

While taking activated charcoal won’t absorb alcohol, it can quickly bring relief from alcohol-induced gas. In addition, many studies have shown that taking charcoal at the same time as consuming alcohol can significantly reduce blood alcohol concentrations, which can help you avoid a hangover.

Best Beverage Choices

A thoughtful host offers guests a variety of holiday beverage options. Delish suggests several options (check out the Cran-Raspberry ‘Martini.’  It contains no added sugar; only fruit, sparkling water, and juice!). When stocking the bar, remember that ‘non-alcoholic’ and ‘low in sugar’ aren’t synonymous.

If you are a guest, remember that there is quite a range of sugar content in different alcoholic drinks. Choosing low sugar content alcohol-based holiday drinks or non-alcoholic beverages is the best way to avoid tummy troubles. While many spirits have no added sugars and, therefore, a low sugar content, mixers can be the worst offenders. As Sara Ipatenco reports, “A 4-ounce daiquiri has 6.7 grams of sugar, … none of it from the actual alcohol.” Even artisanal, house-made syrups may contain as much sugar as the brand name mixers.

For example, while many people consider a vodka and cranberry cocktail as being low-sugar, this drink contains a whopping seven and a half teaspoons of sugar.  A gin and tonic isn’t much better: it contains four teaspoons of sugar. That’s a whopping 66% of the American Heart Association’s recommended daily sugar intake for women … in one glass! (The tonic water mixer is the culprit.)

On the other hand, a gin and lime gimlet cocktail or a vodka and soda will help avoid sugar completely. A small glass of white wine or a pint of lager containing less than a gram of sugar can cause less intestinal distress than a rum and coke.

It’s possible to have a great time and enjoy great-tasting, seasonally appropriate fare. If you really can’t pass up that rum-laced eggnog, help yourself to a smaller serving. Remember to eat a healthy meal before hitting the office cocktail party and your neighbor’s open house. However, if some mystery ingredient causes gas pressure and pain, two CharcoCaps capsules will get you back in the holiday spirit in no time!