Why Alcohol Makes You Poop (And How to Avoid a Bathroom-Filled Morning After)

Gross? Maybe. But admit it: You can *probably* relate.

A little over a year ago, we asked this question: Why does running make you poop? (Here in Be Well Philly Land, we’re never afraid to ask the truly tough questions.) So naturally, we were intrigued when we saw a post on Thrillist delving into a similar subject: the question of why a boozy night leads to a morning filled with trips to the bathroom.

Gross? Maybe. But admit it: You can probably relate.

So, now that we’ve crossed that honesty hump, why does alcohol make you poop? Well, according to the gastroenterologists Thrillist talked to, like running, it has to do with increased gut motility. That’s fancy doctor speak for when things move through your body more quickly. As gastroenterologist Dr. Kathlynn Caguiat told Thrillist, “Alcohol can increase gut motility and it doesn’t get broken down before it reaches the colon, where bacteria feast on these, resulting in bloating and diarrhea.” Oof. Increased gut motility also means your body has less time to absorb water, which can lead to loose stool. (I’m sorry — there really is no other way to say that.)

So what are the worst culprits? Well, according to one gastroenterologist Thrillist chatted with, Dr. Urvist Shah, the higher the alcohol concentration, the worse the — ahem — reaction will be. But that doesn’t necessarily translate to beer, which comes with its own set of additional issues: some of those carbs shooting down to your large intestine don’t break down, which can lead to gnarly side effects like gas, cramping and, well, a lot of bathroom trips. And as gastroenterologist Dr. Ali Keshavarzian notes over on BuzzFeed, interestingly, “Many people have reactions to the tannins from grape skins in red wine, which can cause nausea and diarrhea.” Who knew? Keshavarzian also told BuzzFeed that sipping on sugary drinks (lookin’ at you, margarita fans) for hours on end can lead to rapid gastric emptying. Read: diarrhea. (Sooo … white wine it is?)

That said, experts say alcohol doesn’t necessarily screw with everyone’s digestion after the first sip (or even at all). The folks over at Greatist, also curious about this question, chatted with poop expert Joseph Weiss last year, and as he told them, “Just like some people with lactose intolerance can have cream in their coffee but start to feel sick after a glass of milk, some people will be fine drinking a beer or two but will notice digestive problems if they drink a whole six-pack.” It’s all about learning your limits.

One gastroenterologist-approved suggestion to avoid a terrible morning after? Make sure to help out your intestines by eating before you down any alcohol. We suggest gathering some inspiration from the pre-boozy night out meals of Philly health pros. (In case you’re wondering, yes, avocado toast does make the list.)

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