Alcohol Consumption and Crohn's Disease

Tracy Davenport, Ph.D. Health Guide September 10, 2008
  • If you are wondering if it is safe to drink alcohol if you are living with Crohn's Disease, this SharePost presents some of the latest findings.

     

    Scandinavian researchers recently considered this topic and published their results in the Scandinavian Journal of Gastroenterology (2007). Their results showed support for the idea that alcoholic drinks can increase abdominal pain in those living with Crohn's Disease. They also discovered that the amount of sugar in the alcoholic drink made a difference in whether or not the drink was tolerated by their research participants.

     

    To support their findings, the researchers asked patients with Crohn's Disease who were in remission, to consume five different alcoholic drinks at random times: red wine, white wine, Smirnoff Ice, Elephant Beer, and pure ethanol. Their results showed that abdominal pain was worse in the Crohn's Disease patients following the intake of Smirnoff Ice and Elephant beer. These two drinks have a higher sugar concentration as compared to the three other drinks.

     

    This study also provides support for the fact that digestive diseases are individualized. In other words, they impact each of us in unique ways. If you have been diagnosed with Crohn's Disease, and you would still like to consume alcohol, the bad news is that drinking alcohol may make your symptoms worse, especially if sugary drinks are consumed. The good news is that at least in this study, not all of the study participants with Crohn's Disease, had a negative reaction to the alcoholic drinks.

     

    This is one of those topics where it is really important to consider the social and emotional impact of your decision to partake. Individuals with Crohn's Disease often have more than their fair share of restrictions on them already. If having an occasional alcoholic drink is important to you, then I suggest the following:


    1) Know the latest research on the topic. As you can see from this study, not all drinks are created equal, and not all persons with Crohn's Disease react the same.


    2) Talk to your doctor. One of the most important questions you should ask your healthcare provider is whether or not alcohol has the potential to interact with the medications you are currently taking.


    3) Think about moderation. As with any food with the potential to exacerbate your condition, alcohol may have to be introduced very slowly in order to see if it can be tolerated.


    4) Listen to your body. In the last week, two different people have told me that when they drink, their digestive problems worsen, and they wondered what they should do. I think in these cases, their own bodies know best.

     

    My next two SharePosts will provide some of the latest information on the impact nicotine and caffeine may have on Crohn's Disease.