Q: Why does alcohol consumption cause bloating?—Gerry, Tuscon, Ariz.
Bloating occurs when there is a buildup of air or gas in the stomach. The abdominal discomfort can often be caused by drinking carbonated beverages, eating a large meal or consuming alcohol.
"Drinking alcohol has effects on the gastrointestinal system, and can cause symptoms of heartburn or GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease)," Dr. Catherine McCarthy, a family medicine physician at the University of Nevada at Reno School of Medicine, told Wine Spectator. "Alcohol also slows down how quickly food moves out of the stomach, which can cause distension of the stomach, or bloating."
Alcohol also increases acidity in the stomach, which can cause inflammation and even damage to the stomach lining if consumed excessively. This inflammation can lead to a feeling of being bloated. Carbonated beverages like sparkling wine and beer can also cause bloating, as the beverages’ bubbles of carbon dioxide continue to be released after being consumed.
Consult your gastroenterologist to learn more about maintaining good stomach health with moderate wine consumption.—Shawn Zylberberg