- IBS: What’s in Your Cup?
- IBS: Drinks to Stay Away From
- IBS: What to Drink
- Fancy Mint Ice Cubes
- Does Drinking Diet Soda Lead to Weight Gain?
- Will Drinking Diet Soda Make Me Crave Actual Sugar?
- Does My Body Process Artificial Sweeteners Just like Sugar?
- Can Drinking Diet Soda Cause Cancer? (Is Aspartame or Saccharin Dangerous?)
- How Many Diet Sodas Can I Have in a Day?
- Can You Be Addicted to Diet Soda?
- Is Diet Coke Worse for You Than Regular Coke?
- Is Drinking Diet Soda Bad for Weight Loss? (Next Steps)
- Is Diet Soda Bad for You?
- 5 serious health risks of drinking diet soda
- Here are 5 reasons to avoid drinking diet soda
- 2. It can cause kidney problems.
- 3. It can increase your risk of metabolic syndrome and diabetes.
- 4. It leads to ‘increased waist circumference.’
- 5. It alters your mood.
- Here are some better alternatives
- You CAN Have Coffee on the Low FODMAP Diet – Maybe
- Low FODMAP is Not The Whole Issue
- I Want My Coffee!
- Brewed Coffee, Espresso & Instant Coffee
- Does caffeine affect IBS symptoms?
- Caffeine and the Low FODMAP Diet: A Guide to Low FODMAP Hot Drinks
- Best teas to drink for IBS
- IBS And Alcohol: The Ultimate Guide To Drink Safely With IBS.
- How alcohol and IBS interact (Interesting facts you may don’t know):
- 1. How alcohol affects your IBS:
- 2. Your IBS isn’t only affected by the type of alcohol you drink:
- 3. Alcohol not only affects your IBS But Your Entire digestive system:
- 4. Light drinking may not cause you problems with IBS:
- 5. Some studies suggest that alcohol is the cause of IBS.
- 6. Alcohol Can Cause IBS Flare Up. But Not Immediately.
- 7. Binge drinking of alcohol is the worst scenario for your IBS.
- Handy Tips For better Alcohol drinking experience with your IBS
- 1. Stick only to alcohols that are low FODMAP:
- 2. Alcohols to avoid with IBS. It may hurt your IBS.
- 3. The 6 best alcohols for IBS patients:
- 4. Never drink alcohol if you have these conditions:
- 5. Limit your drinking to a maximum of drinks per day for men and drink for women:
- 6. Drink water with alcohol.
- 7. Eat before or during alcohol drinking.
- 8. Drink alcohol slowly.
- 9. Try not to drink daily.
- 10. IBS, alcohol and Probiotics? The unexpected relationship.
- Take-Home Messages:
- 5 Favorite Recipes: Super Bowl Snacks
- Coffee and IBS
- Why does coffee trigger IBS symptoms?
- Alternatives to Coffee
- Can People with IBS Drink Coffee?
- How Coffee Affects IBS Symptoms
- Why Does Coffee Cause IBS Symptoms?
- Can Coffee Cause Constipation?
- What Other Options Do You Have?
- The Takeaway
- Coffee and disorders of the large intestine
IBS: What’s in Your Cup?
A bout of gas, bloating, cramps, and diarrhea or constipation may make you re-evaluate your meals to find out where you went wrong. But if you have IBS, the culprit could be in your cup.
Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) happens when the nerves and muscles in the intestine become oversensitive and don’t function properly, leading to diarrhea, constipation, or both.
While most people without IBS will use the bathroom 30 to 60 minutes after eating, some people with IBS will have to go sooner and will feel pain and may have diarrhea.
Research has found that choosing foods and beverages low in “FODMAPs,” or fermentable sugars in foods such as fructose, lactose, sorbitol, and frutans, and avoiding foods high in FODMAPs helps relieve IBS symptoms.
In a 2013 study by researchers from New Zealand and Amsterdam, 90 people with IBS reported significant improvement in symptoms such as abdominal pain, bloating, flatulence, and diarrhea after following a low FODMAP diet.
That’s good news, but because the sugars in high FODMAP foods are in so many drinks — and other drinks such as coffee and alcohol are also considered no-nos when you have IBS — it might leave you wondering what you can drink.
The good news? The choices are probably greater than you think.
IBS: Drinks to Stay Away From
First consider the drinks that are likely to make your IBS symptoms worse. One big culprit is any beverages containing fructose or high-fructose corn syrup, says Rebecca Solomon, RD, clinical nutrition coordinator for the department of clinical nutrition at Mount Sinai Medical Center in New York City.
That’s because some people with IBS are intolerant to fructose. In a 2008 study published in the Journal of Clinical Gastroenterology, researchers tested 80 people with IBS and found that about one third were fructose intolerant. For them, restricting fructose helped their symptoms.
It’s a good idea to avoid juices made from fruits with a high fructose content, including apples, mangos, pears, and watermelon, Solomon says. It also means you’ll have to be diligent about checking labels of other drinks such as teas, juices, and sodas for high fructose corn syrup. Odds are you’ll find it on product labels because it’s so widely used by manufacturers.
Also avoid sugar-free drinks made with artificial sweeteners containing polyols because they’re also known to bring on IBS symptoms. Those include any sweeteners ending in “-ol,” such as sorbitol, mannitol, maltitol, and xylitol, as well as isomalt. You’re likely to find them in diet sodas, sugar-free juices, and sugar-free teas.
If you make your own vegetable juices, keep in mind that onions and garlic are considered major contributors to IBS, so they’re something to avoid, Solomon says. Also pass on juices made from other vegetables high in FODMAPs, such as beets, cabbage, fennel, legumes, peas, avocados, cauliflower, mushrooms, and snow peas.
As for caffeine, it’s known to move the bowel for most people, but the effect tends to be worse for those who have IBS. It’s a good idea to eliminate or limit the caffeine you drink in coffee, tea, and other drinks.
And for the most part, alcohol, especially heavy drinking, can cause IBS symptoms. In a 2013 study, researchers compared the gastrointestinal symptoms of women with IBS to women who didn’t have IBS after drinking alcohol. When the women who had IBS reported having more than four alcoholic drinks in a day, they were also more likely to experience diarrhea, nausea, stomach pain, and indigestion compared to women who didn’t have IBS.
IBS: What to Drink
After eliminating the big offenders, it may seem like there’s nothing left to drink. Not so. Take a look at all of the beverages on the thumbs up list.
Fruit juices. It’s perfectly appropriate to drink juices made from cranberries, bananas, grapefruits, lemons, grapes, and pineapples as long as they don’t contain corn syrup. It’s best when the juice is made fresh from organic fruits without added sugar, Solomon says. But if you do want to sweeten it up, choose a small amount of white sugar or the sweeteners Stevia or Splenda if you can tolerate them. (Those sweeteners bring on IBS symptoms for some people, but are safe for most, she said.)
Vegetable juices. There are several vegetables that are low in FODMAPs that are perfect for juicing. Make a tasty juice using carrots, celery, chives, broccoli, cucumber, ginger, parsley, pumpkin, spinach, the green part of scallions, tomatoes, zucchini, yams, turnips, taro, squash, and eggplant. (Eggplant and squash cause problems for some people with IBS, so skip those if that’s the case for you.)
Decaffeinated coffee, decaf tea, or weak caffeinated tea. Choosing decaf coffee or tea shouldn’t be a problem, Solomon says. Or try caffeinated tea but make it weak.
Herbal tea. Herbal tea doesn’t contain caffeine and is a great choice hot or iced.
Ginger drinks. Ginger teas, punches, or beers are on the safe list as long as they don’t contain high fructose corn syrup, honey, or other sweeteners on the high FODMAP list.
Dairy-free milk. Rice milk, soy milk, oat milk, and lactose-free milk are all low in FODMAPs.
Paying attention to how your body responds to different drinks is most important. If you know something bothers you, take it out of your diet. But if you can tolerate drinks that are on the restricted list, it’s okay to indulge.
“My philosophy is to enjoy as many foods and drinks as you can tolerate,” Solomon said.
High-FODMAP beverages may be part of your IBS problem. Soft drinks sweetened with high-fructose corn syrup are only the beginning. Even folks who avoid that particular ingredient may drink beverages sweetened with honey, sugar alcohols or agave syrup. And what about those great big sugar-sweetened iced mocha-type drinks? Even though a little bit of sugar (or sugar syrup) would be considered low-FODMAP, the sheer size of some of these drinks makes for an overload of fructose. Some herbal teas, especially chamomile and any tea bag which includes chicory root, are high in FODMAPs. Today’s post has some tips for drinking the IBS-friendly way, while following the program in The IBS Elimination Diet and Cookbook.
- To stay well hydrated, replace your usual high-FODMAP beverages with an equal volume of low-FODMAP beverages. This is especially important during the warm summer months and during periods of heavy exercise.
- Drink when you are thirsty, enough to produce pale yellow urine. If you notice a trend toward darker yellow or orange urine, increase the amount of fluid you drink each day. That’s it. Forget fancy formulas for how much to drink and the unproven advice to drink 8 cups of water per day. Your body will do the math.
- All low-FODMAP beverages “count” as sources of fluid: Good cold beverage choices include water, carbonated water, flavored seltzer water, iced tea (green, peppermint, ginger, mint), infused waters, iced coffee with or without lactose-free milk or almond milk. Though caffeine is not a FODMAP, it can be a GI irritant for some people, so drink iced green tea and coffee in moderation.
- If you prefer your beverages sweetened, add a tablespoon or less of regular sugar or 100% pure maple syrup. Flavored or plain liquid stevia extract is another low-FODMAP natural sweetener.
- Enjoy alcohol in moderation. Alcohol is not a FODMAP, but like caffeine it can be a GI irritant for some people. Cocktail mixers are often high in FODMAPs, however. Beer and wine are low-FODMAP. See Adult Beverages and FODMAPs: Five Things to Know for details.
We hope you’ll enjoy your cold beverages even more when they are chilled down with our lovely mint ice cubes.
Fancy Mint Ice Cubes
Replace your high-FODMAP beverages with icewater cooled by these beautiful and delicious lemon-mint tea ice cubes. Or double up on the tea and use these to cool down your green or ginger tea. Serve them in clear glassware so that you can enjoy the way they sparkle!
There’s one question we get asked more than any other: “Is diet soda bad for me?”
People want to know if Diet Coke will make them fat and make them sick, or if it’s all just a bunch of hoopla about nothing.
We help our clients navigate challenges with soda and diet soda in our 1-on-1 Online Coaching Program, and we’re gonna tell you everything you need about diet soda below.
Should you be drinking diet soda? If so, how much? Let us help you decide!
Here’s what we’ll cover to answer the question, “Is drinking diet soda healthy?”
- Does drinking diet soda lead to weight gain?
- Will drinking diet soda make me crave actual sugar?
- Does my body process artificial sweeteners just like sugar?
- Can drinking diet soda cause cancer? (Is aspartame or saccharin dangerous?)
- How many diet sodas can I have in a day?
- Can you be addicted to diet soda?
- Is Diet Coke worse for you than regular Coke?
- Is drinking diet soda bad for weight loss? (Next steps)
Let’s get right to it!
Does Drinking Diet Soda Lead to Weight Gain?
Does drinking diet soda make you fat?
No, it does not.
It would be super evil if it did, what with the whole “diet” thing and all.
Diet sodas utilize “high-intensity sweeteners” which is a fancy term for very-low-calorie (or zero-calorie) sugar substitutes:
- Acesulfame Potassium
- Monk Fruit Extract
The FDA has approved these eight high-intensity sweeteners for human consumption. You’ll find them in all sorts of food products, not just diet drinks.
Because high-intensity sweeteners are many times sweeter than table sugar, you can make a drink taste “sweet” without including any sugar at all.
Most important, without the sugar, you’re skipping out on all the calories that come with it.
Weight loss depends on consuming fewer calories than you burn, so drinking Diet Coke compared to regular Coke can help tip the equation in favor of “weight loss.”
- 12 oz Diet Coke total calorie count: 0
- 12 oz Coca-Cola total calorie count: 150
If you’re trying to lose weight, but love fizzy carbonated and caffeinated beverages, the soda with fewer calories seems like a no-brainer.
“Steve, hold the phone here! Are you saying Diet Coke is okay to drink? I thought the sweeteners and chemicals in it were sketchy!?!”
The concern of drinking diet soda generally rests on three points:
- Drinking diet soda will make you crave real sugar.
- Your body processes high-intensity sweeteners just like actual sugar.
- Artificial sweeteners (like aspartame) can make you sick or cause cancer.
We’ll hit each of these points with its own section below.
Before we continue, I need to make a strong caveat: most studies on diet soda treat all high-intensity sweeteners as one. This is concerning considering there are eight approved high-intensity sweeteners in use.
Does your body process all eight the same?
Some early studies on various sweeteners do show our bodies process them differently.
More studies are being done on individual high-intensity sweeteners as we speak, so expect new information on the subject to unfold.
Will Drinking Diet Soda Make Me Crave Actual Sugar?
If you eat a bunch of sugary and sweet food regularly, your body can start to crave more of it.
In other words, consistently eating sugary foods in the afternoon can result in an urge for sweets after lunch.
These cravings can make it difficult to turn down the bowl of M&M’s as you pass Debra’s desk (She even got the peanut kind!).
The question becomes, do the high-intensity sweeteners found in diet soda make us crave sugary foods?
The research on this isn’t clear:
- Studies done on rats have shown a positive correlation between high-intensity sweeteners and sugar cravings.
- A 2019 meta-analysis found two studies where aspartame was added directly to the diets of humans. The result? Those who consumed the high-intensity sweeteners found their sugar craving to be LOWER.
There might be something to the thought that drinking a Diet Coke can help satisfy the sugar craving.
As long as you remember: “correlation doesn’t prove causation!”
Anecdotally, many of our coaching clients claim that grabbing a diet soda helps them from drinking the regular sugar-filled version. This can be really important, because “cravings” are one of the top issues facing most of our clients.
Which is why we work closely to identify possible food addictions in our 1-on-1 Online Coaching Program, so we can start to work through them together. Our strategy is to take it slow, to make small changes to alter these cravings. Over time, this is the best way to see real progress.
If you’d like to learn how we can help battle sugar cravings, click below:
No shame, no guilt, just results! Learn about Nerd Fitness Coaching:
Does My Body Process Artificial Sweeteners Just like Sugar?
Another concern of drinking diet soda rests on the idea that your body processes high-intensity sweeteners as it would normal sugar.
The argument states that these sweeteners are so sweet that they fool your body into thinking it’s consuming actual sugar.
After drinking diet soda, your body responds as it would after consuming normal table sugar: by dumping out insulin. This slows down the fat-burning process.
That’s the gist of it, more or less.
Is it legit?
Do high-intensity sweeteners trick our body into releasing hormones (insulin)?
Again, the studies on this are mixed:
- The high-intensity sweeteners sucralose and saccharin were both shown to provide a small insulin response in men.
- Aspartame does not appear to elicit the same hormone response.
Is this a HUGE deal? Of all the things to worry about with regards to weight loss or getting healthy, this doesn’t hold the top spot on the list.
While hormones do play a role in weight loss, the main determining factor will always be an energy balance (calories in vs. calories out).
Since most diet sodas have next to zero calories, I’d say the insulin response of high-intensity sweeteners isn’t that important for your weight loss journey.
There are far better targets in the quest to eat healthy, like eating lots of vegetables and eating enough protein at every meal.
Can Drinking Diet Soda Cause Cancer? (Is Aspartame or Saccharin Dangerous?)
The other concern people have about diet soda is that it will cause cancer and kill them and everyone they know.
A little hyperbolic perhaps, but…
Should we be worried about the ingredients of diet soda causing us harm?
Some history is in order.
In the 70s a high-intensity sweetener (saccharin) was shown to give rats cancer. People flipped out and actually banned saccharin in America, although it’s since been reintroduced.
Because no cancer link has ever been shown for the human consumption of saccharin. And folks have looked. A lot.
Not everything that is cancerous to rats is harmful to people, and vice versa.
Plus, you would have to drink 800 cans of diet soda to get to the levels of saccharin given to the rats in the study.
Even an all-night binge of Call of Duty would only put a small fraction of a dent in that.
How about aspartame or any of these other high-intensity sweeteners…
Are they sketchy?
Earlier I stated the FDA, the United States’ regulation agency, approved eight high-intensity sweeteners.
They aren’t the only agency that has done so. Australia, the EU, Japan, and Canada have all reviewed and approved these sweeteners. They did so after a thorough investigation.
So it’s safe to say that high-intensity sweeteners are okay to be used in a reasonable amount.
Which brings up the question…
How Many Diet Sodas Can I Have in a Day?
While the sweeteners in diet soda have been approved safe for human consumption, there is a limit to this approval. But I won’t make you pore over charts and do the math…I’ll do that for you.
What’s the number of 12-ounce diet sodas deemed safe in a day?
Which is A LOT of diet soda.
However, it should be noted that diet soda is not the only place high-intensity sweeteners are found.
Many other food products utilize these sweeteners to cut back on sugar and calories. So keep an eye on protein bars, yogurts, baked goods, etc, for hidden high-intensity sweeteners.
The other concern with drinking lots of diet soda would be the caffeine. Caffeine in moderate amounts is fine, but if you go overboard you could increase your anxiety and interfere with your sleep.
There’s about half the caffeine in Diet Coke versus a regular cup of coffee, which is still a decent amount.
If you have trouble sleeping at night, consider how late in the day you’re having your last can of soda. Perhaps install a 2pm “caffeine cutoff” if you find yourself tossing and turning at night.
Another problem with diet soda: most of them contain exactly zero nutrients. It’s water, some kind of sweetener (sugar or not), flavoring, coloring, and carbonation.
Drinks like coffee and tea actually have some antioxidants present, so you might be getting some benefits with these caffeinated drinks.
If you find yourself drinking lots of diet soda, consider mixing in some coffee or tea as a partial replacement.
Sparkling water might help with the switch too, if you love those fizzy bubbles.
At this point, we should note that stopping diet soda consumption might be easier said than done.
Can You Be Addicted to Diet Soda?
Anecdotally, it does appear that drinking diet soda can be “habit forming” for some people.
CNN explored the issue and found numerous people who consumed more than a six-pack daily, “easy.”
“Addiction” is a word that gets thrown around too much these days, so I’ll stop short of making a medical classification on these folks. Plus, I searched the scientific literature and couldn’t find any studies on diet soda addiction.
However, if you stockpile Diet Coke like it’ll be currency in the post-zombie world, you’re not alone.
This “addiction” makes sense considering the beverage was designed to hijack your brain’s reward system.
The Coca-Cola Company hires folks to find the perfect combination of:
- Carbonation. The bubbles actually burn your tongue a little, which provides a pleasurable experience. Kind of like a good hot sauce.
- Sweeteners. Sure, it isn’t sugar, but your brain likes them just the same.
- Caffeine. The jolt from caffeine will provide you a boost and raise your dopamine levels. The brain likes this.
- Flavor. After drinking Diet Coke for some time, your brain will start to associate the flavors with the carbonation, sweeteners, and caffeine. Which will make you start craving the flavor of Diet Coke. Which is probably part of the reason people become brand loyal to particular diet beverages.
How do you know if you have an addiction? If you find yourself approaching our 18 can a day safety limit, that’s definitely a sign.
Another would be if you find diet soda interfering with your life (not sleeping after drinking Diet Coke all evening).
You don’t have to go cold turkey on this one:
- If you normally drink six cans of diet soda a day, try five.
- After a month or so of this, try four.
This is the exact strategy we follow with our 1-on-1 Online Coaching clients, and it’s the most likely to succeed.
Small changes over time are the ticket to permanent success.
Having trouble building healthy habits? Have a Nerd Fitness Coach guide your fitness journey instead!
Is Diet Coke Worse for You Than Regular Coke?
Before you use this article as justification to start drinking a six-pack of Diet Coke a day, let’s talk about some other possible concerns.
We’ve talked about all the mechanisms in diet soda that can make it unhealthy (high-intensity sweeteners, caffeine, etc). My conclusion is that these factors are likely overblown.
However, we should acknowledge that drinking diet soda can often be linked to health issues:
- Despite diet sodas containing low to zero calories, drinking them is correlated with obesity. Is this just because people who are overweight are more likely to consume a “diet” drink? We don’t know.
- Diet soda consumption has been associated with kidney disease. Is this because of the high phosphorus content of diet soda, or because people who drink soda likely have a poorer diet than those who don’t? This has still yet to be answered.
- Soda, even the diet version, isn’t great for your teeth. Diet sodas are acidic, leading to the erosion of tooth enamel. Although to be fair, this study found the acids in orange juice more corrosive than Diet Coke.
There’s an important point here: drinking regular soda is also linked to kidney disease, teeth erosion, and obesity. Even more so those last two points (because of all the sugar and calories).
So the concerns of drinking diet soda would also be found in drinking regular soda…even more so.
Drinking Diet Coke may be the lesser of two evils here.
Is Drinking Diet Soda Bad for Weight Loss? (Next Steps)
If you’re starting your weight loss journey and wondering where diet soda fits into the picture, I want you to know I’m proud of you.
You’re starting to ask questions and you’re looking for answers. This is a great first step.
If you’re trying to lose weight and currently drinking regular soda, the switch to diet would be a good move.
You’re gonna consume less calories that way, critical for weight loss.
This is why one of our top recommendations to our coaching clients is to cut back on sugary drinks.
However, if you currently drink diet soda and are trying to lose weight, there might be some better targets to shoot for:
- Make sure every meal has a solid protein source.
- Try to add some vegetables to your plate.
- Get comfortable in the kitchen and experiment with making your own meals.
These are far more important than an occasional Diet Coke here and there.
If you find yourself firing on all cylinders (you eat well, you strength train, you get lots of sleep), then maybe consider replacing diet soda with tea, coffee, or carbonated water. There’s enough unanswered questions on consuming diet soda to warrant the switch.
The most important thing you can do now? Commit to a change:
- One less regular soda a day
- One less Diet Coke a day
- A daily walk first thing in the morning
Pick something you can track. Something with a clear “yes or no” that you can reflect on at the end of the day.
This will help you start your weight loss journey.
Want some help getting going? A little nudge out the door?
Okay, but only because you’ve been nice this whole time:
#1) Our 1-on-1 Online Coaching Program: a coaching program for busy people to help them make better food choices, stay accountable, and get healthier, permanently.
You can schedule a free call with our team so we can get to know you and see if our coaching program is right for you. Just click on the image below for more details:
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#2) The Nerd Fitness Academy – This self-paced online course has helped 50,000 people get results permanently.
There’s a 10-level nutrition system, boss battles, 20+ workouts, and the most supportive community in the galaxy!
Join the NF Academy! One payment, lifetime access.
#3) Join The Rebellion! We have a free email newsletter that we send out twice per week, full of tips and tricks to help you get healthy, get strong, and have fun doing so.
I’ll also send you tons of free guides that you can use to start leveling up your life too:
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- What you need to know about weight loss and healthy eating
- 3 Simple rules we follow every day to stay on target
Alright, I think that just about does it for me.
Now, your turn!
What are your experiences with diet soda?
Did you use them as a tool to help you lose weight?
Or did you struggle with weight loss until finally dropping diet soda out of your daily consumption as well?
Share your story in the comments!
Check out the rest of our sustainable weight loss content:
- 5 Rules of Weight Loss
- Which Diet is Right for Me?
- Start Eating Healthy Without Being Miserable
PSS: I want to give a hat-tip to Precision Nutrition, whose fascinating article served as the inspiration for this post.
GIF Source: Barney, M&M’s, Video Games, Space Balls, Bill Murray, Jim Carrey, South Park Judge, Eric Cartman, Brain Repeating.
Is diet soda bad for you? Or does it actually help you lose weight?
A Purdue researcher says public health officials should tell people to avoid diet soda much like they do with regular, sugar-sweetened soda. Susan E. Swithers, PhD, a professor of psychological sciences and a behavioral neuroscientist at Purdue says warnings may need to be expanded to include limiting intake of all sweeteners, including no-calorie sweeteners. (1)
Swithers reviewed a set of recent studies aiming to answer the question, “Is diet soda bad for you?” She found that about 30 percent of American adults and 15 percent of American children ingest artificial sweeteners, including aspartame, sucralose and saccharin.
There is a lot of pressure from the public health sector to find solutions to counter the rise of obesity and chronic disease, and there is a lot of money and business at stake for the food industry as it develops and promotes these products. Beverages are becoming political issues as government leaders and politicians seek regulation and taxing to limit their availability and consumption, but most of these measures exclude diet soft drinks because they are perceived as healthy. When it comes to making policy decisions, it’s more important than ever that the science is considered and that the public understands what the science says in order to help them make the best health decisions.
Artificial sweeteners seem to confuse the body’s natural ability to manage calories based on tasting something sweet. People tend to them overeat even if they drink diet soda. And get this: People who consume artificial sweeteners are twice as likely to develop metabolic syndrome, too. (2)
Findings from an April, 2019 study published in the journal Circulation tell us that high consumption of artificially sweetened beverages can actually increase the risk for total mortality (death caused by any condition), especially from cardiovascular diseases. Women in this study were found to have the highest intake levels of diet soda.
And if you’re thinking that it seems like a better idea to simply drink regular sugar-sweetened beverages, think again: In the same study it was found that the more regular soda that participants drank, the higher their risk for total mortality, especially from from heart disease and cancer.
Is Diet Soda Bad for You?
There’s lots of research linking diet soda drinking to all sorts of health troubles, even death. As mentioned above, research now links diet soda consumption (and regular soda consumption too) with higher risk for total mortality and heart disease. Artificially sweetened beverages (or ASBs, as they are called in some studies) are often suggested as alternatives to regular soda, and intake levels of ASBs have increased in the United State in recent year.
These findings about the negative health effects of ASBs come from a review of two large scale studies that included over 37,000 middle-aged adult men and 80,000 middle-aged adult women that were followed for about 30 years. The most significant health impacts were observed among those with “high intake levels” of diet soda, which were considered equal to or greater than 4 servings per day.
It was found that participants who had higher intakes of ASBs were also more likely to be younger than those who infrequently drank ASBs, and more likely to have hypertension, a greater BMI, and a tendency to be overweight. Researchers believe that these confounding conditions, and potentially other lifestyle choice too, may be the reason ABSs are linked to mortality. The analysis also points out that some research suggests that ASBs may increase body weight and contribute to cardiometabolic risk despite containing few to no calories because of the “intense sweetness of artificial sweeteners, which may habituate toward a preference for sweets or stimulate an insulin response”, in addition to altering gut microflora in ways that have been linked to insulin resistance.
What were the researchers’ conclusions about the implications of their findings? As the study states, “ASBs (artificially sweetened beverages) could be used to replace SSBs (sugar sweetened beverages) among habitual SSB consumers, but higher consumption of ASBs should be discouraged. Policies and recommendations should continue to call for reductions and limits on SSB intake but should also address alternative beverage options with an emphasis on water.”
Drinking diet soda may also contribute to the following health problems, according to studies:
Drinking more than four cans a day of soda is linked to a 30 percent higher risk of depression. On the flip side, drinking four cups of coffee a day seemed to offer protective effects, lowering depression risk 10 percent. The risk appeared to be greater for people who drank diet soda compared to regular soda. (3)
2. Kidney Damage
Harvard researchers found long-term diet soda drinking causes a 30 percent greater reduction in kidney function. The study looked at people who regularly consumed diet soda over 20 years. (4)
3. Type 2 Diabetes and Metabolic Syndrome
A 2009 study published in the journal Diabetes Care found drinking diet soda daily is linked to a 36 percent higher risk of metabolic syndrome and a 67 percent higher risk of type 2 diabetes compared to non-diet soda drinkers. (5)
In fact, the artificial sweeteners may tamper with the gut-brain connection. This can lead to brain trickery that leads to “metabolic derangements.” Weizmann Institute of Science in Israel researchers were surprised when they found diet soda actually alters gut microbes in a way that increases the risk of metabolic diseases. When researchers fed mice zero-calorie sweeteners found in these drinks, including saccharin, aspartame and sucralose, they developed glucose intolerance. (6)
4. Cardiovascular Disease
Another study sounds similar findings about the connection between heart disease and diet soda. University of Miami and Columbia University researchers followed more than 2,000 adults for 10 years and found that those drinking diet soda daily were more likely to suffer a stroke or heart attack. They were also more likely to die from cardiovascular disease. This increase risk remained even when researchers adjusted for smoking, exercise, weight, sodium intake, high cholesterol, and other factors that could have contributed to the difference. (7, 8)
5. Compromised Lungs
Drinking soda, including diet soda, increases your risk of developing asthma and COPD symptoms. The more soda a person drinks, the higher the risk. (That’s called a “dose-response relationship.”)
An Australian study found that 13.3 percent of surveyed participants with asthma and 15.6 percent of those with COPD drank more than two cups of soda each day. (9, 10)
6. A Less Protected Brain
Aspartame, a common artificial sweetener in diet sodas, seems to chip away at the brain’s antioxidant defense system. The results of an animal study found long-term consumption of aspartame leads to an imbalance in the antioxidant/pro-oxidant status in the brain, mainly through the mechanism involving the glutathione-dependent system. (11)
Aspartame is also linked to: (12)
- migraines & headaches
- short term memory loss
- multiple sclerosis
- hearing loss
- weight gain
- brain tumors
- chronic fatigue syndrome
- birth defects
- Alzheimer’s disease
- arthritis (including rheumatoid)
- chemical sensitivities
Related: Phosphoric Acid: The Dangerous Hidden Additive You’ve Likely Consumed
Final Thoughts: Is Diet Soda Bad for You? (Yes.)
- Diet soda is not a healthier alternative to regular sugar-sweetened soda.
- Diet soda does not promote weight loss, contrary to popular belief.
- Diet soda is linked to higher risk for mortality in some studies, metabolic damage, heart disease, weight gain and other health problems.
- If you’re in the mood for a fizzy drink, consider a much healthier option: kombucha.
Read Next: 6 Ways to Naturally Whiten Your Teeth
5 serious health risks of drinking diet soda
If you love Diet Coke or any other diet soda, we might have some bad news for you. And it isn’t even related to caffeine!
According to several different studies, even though diet drinks supposedly consist of zero net calories, they can have a lot of negative effects — including weight gain, kidney problems, increased risk of diabetes and increased risk of depression.
So if you love diet soda but want to cut your risk of disease, it might be a good idea to kick it to the curb!
Read more: 13 ‘healthy’ snacks that aren’t healthy at all
Here are 5 reasons to avoid drinking diet soda
According to research from the Karolinska Institute in Sweden, men who drank two or more servings of Diet Coke had a 23% higher risk of developing heart failure. In the study, 42,400 men were tracked over 12 years and 3,604 cases of a positive association between sweetened beverage consumption and risk of heart failure were found. In addition, 509 people died of the condition.
The study did not differentiate between diet soda and regular soda — but instead showed an equal amount of risk between both. Drinks included Diet Coke, Pepsi Max and other beverages that use artificial sweeteners.
Read more: Doing this 4 times a week drastically reduces heart disease
2. It can cause kidney problems.
A study done back in 2009 of over 3,000 women found a link between diet soda and kidney problems.
‘While more study is needed, our research suggests that higher sodium and artificially sweetened soda intake are associated with greater rate of decline in kidney function,’ said Dr. Julie Lin MD, MPH, FASN of Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Boston and coauthor of the study.
Researchers found that women who drank two or more diet sodas a day had as much as a 30% decrease in kidney function.
‘Thirty percent is considered significant,” said Dr. Lin. At least five studies have been done attempting to make the connection between soda and kidney disease, but only two have been significant.
3. It can increase your risk of metabolic syndrome and diabetes.
Several studies have linked diet drinks to increased risk of metabolic syndrome and diabetes.
Metabolic syndrome is a group of risk factors that raises your risk for heart disease and other health problems like diabetes and stroke, in addition to increased belly fat and high cholesterol.
A 2008 study of about 10,000 adults at the University of Minnesota found that 1 soda drink a day led to a 34% increased risk of metabolic syndrome. Additionally, another study found a 36% greater risk of metabolic syndrome related to drinking diet soda and a 67% greater risk of type 2 diabetes compared with people who did not drink any diet soda.
4. It leads to ‘increased waist circumference.’
Two studies done by the School of Medicine at the University of Texas Health Science Center in San Antonio, (one in 2011 and another in 2015), found that two servings of diet soda, specifically Diet Coke, increased waistlines by over three inches.
Compared with non-users, diet soft drink consumers had a 70% increase in ‘waist circumference’ than did non-users. But, frequent consumers — defined as consuming two or more diet drinks a day — had a 500% waistline increase over non-users, according to researchers.
Why is this? According to Perdue University, diet sweeteners trick the body and disrupt its natural ability to regulate calorie intake.
‘Artificial sweeteners trigger insulin, which sends your body into fat storage mode and leads to weight gain,’ says Brooke Alpert, RD, author of the book The Sugar Detox.
Read more: Best way to control your weight? Hint: It’s not just diet or exercise!
5. It alters your mood.
Scary as it is, aspartame, or the sweetener in Diet Coke, is on an EPA list of potentially dangerous chemicals contributing to neurotoxicity, right beneath arsenic.
The American Academy of Neurology has discovered that artificially sweetened drinks are connected to a higher risk of depression – at least 30% as much.
‘Sweetened beverages, coffee and tea are commonly consumed worldwide and have important physical—and may have important mental—health consequences,’ said study author Honglei Chen, MD, PhD, with the National Institutes of Health in Research Triangle Park, North Carolina.
‘Our research suggests that cutting out or down on sweetened diet drinks or replacing them with unsweetened coffee may naturally help lower your depression risk,’ he said. ‘More research is needed to confirm these findings, and people with depression should continue to take depression medications prescribed by their doctors.’
But, the good news is, coffee was connected to a lower risk of depression in the study.
Read more: Coffee could help reduce the risk of liver disease
Here are some better alternatives
So what might be some better alternatives to diet soda? If you don’t like the non-flavor of water, you could try Vitamin Water Zero which has zero calories but it sweetened with Stevia instead of aspartame, or you could opt for coffee or tea instead.
Additionally, you might try sparkling mineral water, but sparkling water also has some risks. The best (and cheapest) alternative to soda really is just plain ‘ole 100% water.
Read more: Simple water trick leads to greater weight loss, study shows
You CAN Have Coffee on the Low FODMAP Diet – Maybe
The very concept of coffee comes up a lot in discussions of IBS and FODMAPs, so we thought we would address this in this article, The Low FODMAP Diet, Coffee & Coffee Drinks.
Everyone wants to know if they can still have their favorite coffee drink – and the answer is, perhaps!
Low FODMAP is Not The Whole Issue
Coffee is low FODMAP, but caffeine can be an irritant for many people, those with IBS and even those without, hence the confusion.
Coffee contains caffeine, which is a gut irritant,so although it may be low FODMAP, there are still other issues to address. In addition to raising blood pressure and giving some folks the “jitters”, that anxious, nervous feeling, it can also stimulate gastric motility.
Simply put, it revs up your gut, you may get cramps from contracting muscles along the digestive tract and this is why it can send you running for the bathroom. Coffee can also increase stomach acid, which for many results in heartburn and indigestion.
PS: caffeine found in sodas, energy drinks – even supplements – all could create the same reaction, so be aware.
I Want My Coffee!
Drinking a nice hot cup of coffee or espresso in the morning is a very personal decision, not only from the energizing caffeine point of view, as it affects everyone differently in that regard, but also from a digestive upset point of view.
Some folks can drink coffee right before they go to bed and sleep like a baby. Others (like me) cannot have any caffeine after 2pm, or my nighttime sleep will be compromised.
It cannot be overstated that YOUR INDIVIDUAL experience is very important. Work with your registered dietitian to assess your reactions, and proceed accordingly.
Brewed Coffee, Espresso & Instant Coffee
When you check your Monash University Low FODMAP Diet Smartphone App you will see many entries for coffee, including espresso, instant coffee and many coffee based drinks combined with dairy milk, as well as alt milks.
The FODMAP Friendly App provides some lab-tested results for various coffees as well.
Here is some basic information from both sources.
Low FODMAP Coffee Amounts
Brewed coffee, regular or decaffeinated, black: 6-ounce (180 ml) cup
Espresso, regular or decaffeinated, black: single shot (30 ml); double shot (60 ml)
Instant coffee, regular or decaffeinated, black: two heaping teaspoons (4 g total)
Coffee pods, black:1 pod (8 g)
Espresso, regular or decaffeinated: 1 shot (30 ml) with 220 ml of low FODMAP milk alternatives; double shot (60 ml) with 190 ml low FODMAP milk alternatives
Instant coffee, regular or decaffeinated: two heaping teaspoons (4 g total) with 100 ml of low FODMAP milk alternatives
Monash lists “creamer powder” and we do not have specifics as to what the products that they tested contains. They give 2 teaspoons (3 g) a Green Light. It should be noted that it only hits a Yellow Light Moderate level of FODMAPs at 1 cup (100 g), which is quite a large amount.
Cream, Milk & Alt Milks
Some of you like your coffee black – and then some of us like a little (or a lot) or milk or perhaps a milk alternative. The same approach applies to these liquids as if you were going to drink them on your own. Consult your Monash University Low FODMAP Diet Smartphone App for more complete information.
The Monash app, which represents lab tested values, says we can have 2 Australian tablespoons of heavy cream and even evaporated milk in 2 teaspoons.
Monash says that 2 teaspoons of A2 milk is allowed as well.
In general, for milk you can choose from lactose-free cow’s milk, almond milk, hemp milk, oat milk, coconut milk, macadamia milk, rice milk and soy milk made from soy protein (not whole soybeans) – but the types and amounts make a difference! Study the app and educate yourself.
By the way, if you want to make your own lactose-free dairy, we have the instructions in our DIY Lactose-Free Dairy article.
Sugar & Sweeteners
The same approach applies with sweeteners. If they are low FODMAP in general, you can add them to your coffee. We have an in-depth article on all kinds of Sugar that you can refer to.
In general, you can use white granulated sugar, brown sugar, raw sugar, stevia as well as maple syrup.
Honey and agave are high in fructose and therefore high FODMAP, HOWEVER you can have 1 teaspoon of either one, which might just be enough for your cup of joe.
If you suffer with IBS and want to drink coffee, proceed with caution and moderation.
Once you are in a calm period, with few IBS symptom breakthroughs, try maybe a quarter or half a cup of coffee and assess your reactions. For some, the reactions will come quite quickly and you will know to steer clear of your caffeine boost, at least for now.
Always discuss your caffeine consumption with your registered dietitian and come up with a personalized approach.
Also, as a personal note, be flexible. I drink black tea in the morning and early afternoon everyday and it works within my diet (I add a bit of lactose-free whole milk). Coffee, on the other hand, gives me cramps and sends me running to the bathroom. Be open to a solution!
If you are going to drink coffee or tea be sure to make it GREAT coffee or tea…. We’ve put together some of our favorite tools for making and drinking really great coffee or tea.
For Coffee Lovers
Starting with automatic coffee makers – Robin loves this one and has been using it herself for the last two years. It makes a great cup of coffee, let’s you know when it needs to be cleaned, is easy to clean and keeps coffee hot for a long time in the thermal pitcher without burning it.
Robin travels with a French Press type coffee maker. When she was traveling the world for her previous job she knew that bringing familiar food and starting her day with her favorite coffee from home was the best way to stay healthy and happy despite jet-lag and unfamiliar surroundings. The coffee is usually a bit stronger when prepared in this manner so be aware! Start with a smaller cup amount than usual to see how you do first. She also loves this version of the French Press for home.
At the other end of the spectrum is the pour-over type of coffee maker. Robin loves the simple nature of making coffee this way.
You can also find single cup versions that are perfect for just that! We like this one below because it won’t break, it has a permanent filter (no need to keep replacing that!) and it’s light so can easily pack if you want to bring it on a trip.
For Tea Lovers
Dédé is a tea drinker and is never without her thermos of tea that she drinks from all day. She LOVES this thermal container – she says it keeps her tea hot ALL day. You can use it for your coffee or your tea.
Tea making should be pleasureable – and can range from throwing a tea bag in a cup of hot water all the way to the beautiful ancient Asian rituals of tea making. Whatever your approach is make sure you are working with high quality tea, using good water, not over steeping your tea and that you are working with the right tools. Here are our favorites:
Starting with really simple tea infusers – these can be thrown in a drawer, your purse or knapsack:
Tea should have room to expand and float a bit in the water according to tea experts. This tea infusion basket lets it do just that.
This one is the tea pot and infuser in one.… and the lovely shape is fun too. Best for when you want to serve tea for two or more!
Do you have a favorite coffee or tea making tool? We’d love to hear about it!
Does caffeine affect IBS symptoms?
Assuming that caffeine plays a role in triggering IBS symptoms in some individuals, how might this occur? The effect of caffeine on gastrointestinal symptoms may be related to its effects on colonic motor activity. This was shown in a study which showed that coffee induced the need to defecate (poo) in nearly one third of healthy participants. These effects were observed after coffee, but not water. Another small study in healthy participants showed that coffee may increase gastrointestinal motility to a similar extent as a meal, and a greater extent than water and decaffeinated coffee. Gastrointestinal motility refers to movements of the digestive system and the transit of the contents within it.
On the basis of these anecdotal reports, observational findings and a few plausible mechanisms, patients have traditionally been advised to reduce caffeine intake to improve IBS symptom control. A number of clinical guidelines endorse this approach, recommending that caffeine intake be restricted (but not necessarily removed) if it is suspected to trigger symptoms. Others have suggested that the simulating effects of caffeine may be harnessed to promote laxation in patients with constipation predominant IBS, along with other diet and lifestyle changes to promote laxation, such as including breakfast, increasing fluid and soluble fibre intake and encouraging regular exercise. Either way, there is virtually no literature suggesting that manipulating caffeine intake improves IBS symptom control.
So should you change your caffeine intake to improve your IBS symptoms? Given the lack high quality evidence in this area, blanket recommendations about caffeine intake are certainly not warranted. Instead, work with your dietitian to determine whether your symptoms are related to your caffeine intake. If there appears to be a link, make sure that any change in your caffeine intake (up or down) is made in isolation so that any effects can be monitored and detected.
1.Simren, M., et al., Food-related gastrointestinal symptoms in the irritable bowel syndrome. Digestion, 2001. 63(2): p. 108-15.
4.Nanda, R., et al., Food intolerance and the irritable bowel syndrome. Gut, 1989. 30(8): p. 1099-104.
7.Brown, S.R., P.A. Cann, and N.W. Read, Effect of coffee on distal colon function. Gut, 1990. 31(4): p. 450-3.
8.Rao, S.S., et al., Is coffee a colonic stimulant? Eur J Gastroenterol Hepatol, 1998. 10(2): p. 113-8.
10.Hookway, C., et al., Irritable bowel syndrome in adults in primary care: summary of updated NICE guidance. BMJ, 2015. 350: p. h701.
11.Halmos, E.P., When the low FODMAP diet does not work. J Gastroenterol Hepatol, 2017. 32 Suppl 1: p. 69-72.
12.Spencer, M., W.D. Chey, and S. Eswaran, Dietary Renaissance in IBS: Has Food Replaced Medications as a Primary Treatment Strategy? Curr Treat Options Gastroenterol, 2014.
Caffeine and the Low FODMAP Diet: A Guide to Low FODMAP Hot Drinks
Caffeine is a stimulant and is known to affect gut motility, meaning, it may make you run to the bathroom, even if you have a healthy digestive system. For some people with IBS, caffeine may trigger symptoms: research has shown that 26-40% of IBS sufferers identify coffee as a cause of symptoms. And about a third of those who re-introduce it after improving their symptoms with an elimination diet experience a recurrence of symptoms, mostly diarrhea. On the other hand, IBS sufferers with chronic constipation may take advantage of the effect of caffeine on colonic motility and experience some benefit in their symptoms.
Due to the lack of clinical data (that is, the data we have is observational or anecdotal and cannot establish cause-and-effect), Monash University has not given specific recommendations on the use of caffeine for people with IBS. Rather, they recommend each person work with a dietitian to determine whether their symptoms may be related to caffeine intake.
Setting the caffeine issue aside, we also need to consider the FODMAP content of coffee, teas (caffeinated or herbal) and other hot beverages (mostly from oligo-saccharides). Here is a quick guide:
When drinking coffee, prefer espresso and instant coffee, as they are low in FODMAPs. The FODMAP status of American style brewed, drip coffee is less certain and may develop some FODMAPs during the brewing process. Stay away from most coffee substitutes as they usually contain chicory or inulin (high in FODMAPs).
Choose green or white tea, and lightly steeped black tea. Steeping the tea for a shorter amount of time (less than 2 minutes) will make the tea less concentrated in FODMAPs, which are soluble in water.
Yerba-mate has not been tested, so it’s best to stay away from it. After you have moved on to your personalized low FODMAP diet, you may test small amounts and see how you react.
Among herbal teas, choose mint, ginger, lemon or rooibos. Make sure to avoid teas that have chicory root fillers and high-FODMAP teas like chamomile, oolong, dandelion, and fennel.
Make your own hot chocolate with 2-3 teaspoons unsweetened cocoa, 12 ounces lactose-free or almond milk and ¾ teaspoon of cornstarch. Add a splash of vanilla and sweeten to taste with sugar (but no more than 1 tablespoon). Avoid the pre-mixed cocoa mixes as they are made with dry milk (a source of lactose).
Finally, whatever tea (or coffee) you may choose, be careful about what you put in it. Avoid milk or coffee creamers and opt for lactose-free milk, almond milk or small amounts of half-and-half (virtually lactose-free). If you like to sweeten your beverage, choose regular sugar, 100% maple syrup, or stevia, and stay away from honey and agave.
Best teas to drink for IBS
There are many types of tea that may be beneficial for easing the symptoms of IBS. These include:
Share on PinterestPeppermint tea may help with the symptoms of IBS.
One review found that peppermint reduced the severity of pain for people with IBS compared to a placebo.
Peppermint is not recommended for use by people with hiatal hernias, gastroesophageal reflux disease, or gallbladder problems. Heartburn is not an uncommon side effect.
Peppermint essential oil has also been studied as a treatment for IBS. Essential oils are meant to be inhaled through a diffuser or applied to the skin only after being diluted by carrier oil.
People should always speak to a doctor or aromatherapist before considering taking an essential oil by mouth. An article in American Family Physician reports that very high doses of peppermint oil can be extremely dangerous and even result in death.
The risks of drinking peppermint tea, however, are low and the benefits may be significant. Some studies show that peppermint tea can reduce bowel spasms and help the liver detoxify the body.
Turmeric is another herb that has been studied in people with IBS.
In a study published in 2005, researchers examined the effect of turmeric extract tablets on IBS symptoms in adults. Participants took either 1 or 2 tablets each day for 8 weeks.
At the end of the study, researchers found that the turmeric extract decreased abdominal pain. Overall, about two-thirds of those who received the turmeric extract had an improvement in their symptoms.
Since then, there has been more research on the effect of turmeric on inflammation in bowel diseases. While not yet tested on humans, this research produced positive results for IBS symptoms.
Eating turmeric has relatively little risk and is known to decrease inflammation and act as an anti-oxidant, both of which are health benefits for someone with IBS.
Turmeric tea is sold in pre-packaged tea bags or can be made at home using ground turmeric or a piece of turmeric root.
Turmeric can also be mixed with lemongrass and cinnamon to make a flavorful mixture, as in the recipe given here.
Some scientists report that curcumin, the active constituent in turmeric, could have an impact on blood sugar levels, so it is especially important for people with diabetes to discuss this with a doctor.
People with gallbladder problems should also speak with a doctor before consuming turmeric. The spice has the potential to worsen acid reflux and cause stomach discomfort. Another concern is turmeric’s impact on blood clotting.
Share on PinterestGinger may help people with an upset digestive system.
People frequently consume ginger for symptoms associated with an upset digestive system, according to the International Foundation for Functional Gastrointestinal Disorders. It is also commonly used in traditional Chinese medicine.
Scientific studies on the effectiveness of ginger for IBS are lacking, however. It is believed that the extract may help decrease inflammation, make the stomach lining stronger, and promote movement in the intestines.
Ginger tea can be made using pre-packaged tea bags. Recipes using fresh ginger or dried ginger are also available, such as this for ginger honey tea, and this one for turmeric-ginger tea.
Fennel may be helpful for people with IBS since it can help relax the intestinal muscle and relieve gas. It has a sweet flavor similar to aniseed.
Scientists studied the combined impact of curcumin and fennel essential oil on IBS symptoms in 121 people. After 30 days, those who took the curcumin and fennel combination had reduced symptom severity and a significantly higher score on a quality-of-life measurement than those who received a placebo.
More research is needed to know if fennel tea can also help relieve symptoms. Fennel tea can be purchased in pre-packaged tea bags or brewed at home using the recipe given here.
Researchers report that fennel may not be recommended for pregnant women, and that it may interact with certain medications.
Chamomile tea is a popular type of herbal tea. Some people believe it is helpful for relaxation but not many studies have confirmed this.
Some people choose chamomile tea for relieving an upset stomach. It could offer benefits for people with IBS since digestive symptoms can be related to stress.
IBS And Alcohol: The Ultimate Guide To Drink Safely With IBS.
How alcohol and IBS interact (Interesting facts you may don’t know):
1. How alcohol affects your IBS:
Alcohol is a trigger for IBS, especially if you drink it in large amounts.
Alcohol will make your that moves faster thus increasing your IBS symptoms:
- Diarrhea, which is usually associated with Yellow stools.
- gas distention
- Abdominal colics and pain.
- alcohol can affect the good bacteria in your gut. disruption of these bacteria can cause IBS symptoms.
2. Your IBS isn’t only affected by the type of alcohol you drink:
the type of the alcoholic beverage you drink is not the only factor that affects your IBS symptoms.
Many other factors can cause a bad experience with drinking alcohol like:
- The amount or frequency of your drinking.
- Different people have different sensitivities to the same type of alcohol.
- whether you take foods or drinks with alcohol.
- your mood.
Good to know that we are all different in our response or sensitivity to alcohol.
So, alcohol and IBS relationship is complicated and differs from one to another.
You may drink 3 to 4 beverages per they and you don’t have symptoms
On the other hand, others may have a bad experience with their IBS just from having 1 drink.
This is due to the different sensitivities to alcohol across different persons.
3. Alcohol not only affects your IBS But Your Entire digestive system:
Alcohol is a chemical toxin not only affect it’s your IBS but also affects:
- Food and vitamin absorption from the small and the large intestine.
- Alcohol can irritate your pancreas causing chronic inflammation leading to abdominal pain and indigestion
- Alcohol can cause a serious damage to your liver what’s called Alcoholic Liver Disease (ALD).
- Alcohol increase your intestinal permeability to toxins, which moves from your gut to your blood affecting many organs.
- If you consume alcohol in large amounts for many years you are at risk of cancers, especially in your mouth and esophagus.
4. Light drinking may not cause you problems with IBS:
In 2013, American journal of gastroenterology scientists found that drinking excessive amounts of alcohol is associated with more IBS symptoms.
Also, light to moderate drinking usually not associated with increased IBS symptoms.
Avoiding binge drinking and sticking to light alcohol drinking is the best strategy to avoid flare-ups.
How much should you drink?
According to The U.S. Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion Dietary Guidelines
- For women up to 1 drink per day
- For men up to 1 to 2 drinks per day
I will explain to you later exactly how to calculate the amount of alcohol you drink for different types of beverages.
Light alcohol found to be beneficial in killing some harmful bacteria invading your gut like:
- Helicobacter Pylori which causes gastritis and peptic ulcers.
- Vibrio Cholera organisms which cause life-threatening diarrhea.
- organisms which cause food poisoning like Salmonella!
these benefits and others are only with light drinking, the reverse occurs when you binge-drink alcohols.
Listen to this interesting video from SciShow YouTube channel about these benefits of alcohol!
Disclaimer: I believe alcohol is harmful to your health, and I only show these data to help you see the whole aspects of the topic.
5. Some studies suggest that alcohol is the cause of IBS.
If you are an alcohol drinker before you were diagnosed with IBS, your alcohol drinking may have played a role.
Alcohol is a strong chemical irritant that affects all parts of your digestive system.
In 2015, a large Chinese study included over 57000 people with alcohol abuse found that alcohol abuse increases the risk of developing IBS.
Although there is no definite mechanism by which alcohol causes IBS but the clear relationship is always present.
So, we can say yes, IBS may be caused by alcohol in people who over-consume it for long periods.
6. Alcohol Can Cause IBS Flare Up. But Not Immediately.
Alcohol is a well-known IBS trigger and the flare up is largely determined by the type and the amount of alcohol you consume.
It is not necessary for alcohol to cause IBS flare-up on the same day. you may experience IBS symptoms on the next day of drinking alcohol.
This late effects may not make you sure about what triggered your symptoms. If you are not sure that your IBS is flared up by alcohol you should keep track of what you drink and what you eat.
You can use a diary to document your IBS flare-ups. I found that tracking flare-ups is more practical and easier. as tracking everything you eat even in periods when you are symptom-free is overwhelming.
So to know if alcohol causes your IBS flare up, you have to record the pattern of your alcohol intake before every attack of IBS. Not only the few hours before the attack but also, track drinking at the day before IBS attack.
7. Binge drinking of alcohol is the worst scenario for your IBS.
Binge drinking of alcohol will increase your symptoms. With any type of alcohol, even with low FODMAP alcohols.
Binge drinking carries the high risk of worsening your IBS. This is especially causing diarrhea-predominant IBS and more frequent in females than males.
Light drinking of alcohol has little or no effects on your IBS.
No drinking at all is the best option.
Handy Tips For better Alcohol drinking experience with your IBS
1. Stick only to alcohols that are low FODMAP:
FODMAPs are a group of carbohydrates that are known to trigger your IBS. There are some types of alcohols that are low in FODMAP, so it doesn’t hurt your IBS They include
- Distilled alcohols: including gin, vodka, scotch, and whiskey.
- Wine: including red, white, sweet, sparking.
Those two types are generally well tolerated by most people. Also, some alcohols are made from High FODMAP material but their end products are not high in FODMAPs because of distillation.
A good example of this is the beer which is usually tolerated by IBS patients.
2. Alcohols to avoid with IBS. It may hurt your IBS.
These alcohols are either high in FODMAPs or in gluten They are frequently associated with worse IBS symptoms
fructose is originally found in some fruits like apples watermelon mango cherry and pear. About one-third of IBS patients suffer from fructose intolerance fructose is one of the FODMAP that is poorly tolerated and may lead to bloating and IBS attack Fructose found in
- fruit-based beverages (i.e. ciders), Cocktails and mixers
- sweet wines
- high fructose corn syrup
Alcohols containing artificial sweeteners
The letter “P” and FODMAP refers to a group of sugars called Polyols. Artificial sweeteners like mannitol, xylitol, and sorbitol all Polyols which may trigger your IBS as they are originally a FODMAP.
avoid the “Diet” alcohols that contain artificial sweeteners. always check the ingredients of your beverages for these 3 substances: Mannitol, Xylitol, and Sorbitol.
Carbonated alcoholic beverages:
The gas produced by the carbonated beverages may worsen your IBS. If you frequently suffer from bloating and gas, it is better for you to avoid any carbonated beverages like:
- Fizzy mixers,
- Ciders and
- Sparkling wine (tear).
3. The 6 best alcohols for IBS patients:
The best well-tolerated alcohol types are:
- Red wine
- White wine
4. Never drink alcohol if you have these conditions:
Alcohols may endanger your health in If you have one of these conditions:
- If you are taking any medications that interact with alcohol
- if you are a pregnant female.
- If you work with machinery or drive a lot
- If you are under 21 years old.
5. Limit your drinking to a maximum of drinks per day for men and drink for women:
One drink or drink-equivalent is about 14 grams of pure alcohol per day.
It is contained in:
*1 fluid ounce (Fl. OZ.)= about 30 CC of fluid.
standard alcohol drink
This interesting video below will explain to you how to exactly calculate it.
6. Drink water with alcohol.
Try to drink water with alcohol as it has some benefits:
- Water will decrease the effect of alcohol on your gut (dilute the alcohol making it less injurious).
- Also, it will provide you with a sense of fullness that’s limiting the volume of alcohol you drink
- Will protect you from dehydration as alcohol is a diuretic that removes the water from your body through increasing urine volume.
You can drink a medium to a large glass of water after each drink of alcohol. small amounts of water may be useless.
Drinking more water with alcohol will decrease the alcohol concentration in your stomach.
Try to remember to bring the water before you start drinking either at home or outside. This will help you create the habit of drinking water with your alcohol Is this may reduce your IBS attacks that caused by alcohol.
7. Eat before or during alcohol drinking.
It is very harmful to drink alcohol on an empty stomach. Alcohol is very irritant when it comes in contact with your empty stomach.
A certain amount of alcohol could trigger your IBS, but if taken with food (or directly after it) will not affect you. So try to drink alcohol only after you eat.
8. Drink alcohol slowly.
“Having one drink after each dinner for a week is better than having 7 drinks in a single night”.
This binge drinking is potentially dangerous not only to your IBS but your overall health. Drinking large amounts of alcohol in a short time will be toxic for your gut, your blood, and your mental health.
Since alcohol is rapidly absorbed into your bloodstream, Alcohol will build up in your blood faster than you can metabolize it.
So, the more slowly you will drink alcohol, the lesser it will affect this your IBS.
9. Try not to drink daily.
Your IBS is affected by the frequency of alcohol drinking Even with small amounts of alcohol; the daily drinking of alcohol carries more hazard to your IBS.
It will make your gut in a state of constant irritation and also, the alcohol will accumulate in your body in larger concentrations.
If you drink 7 days a week. try to discontinue 2 days per week. By the time, increase the days of discontinuation from alcohol week after week until you reach the tolerable amount that doesn’t affect your IBS (i.e withdraw alcohol gradually).
10. IBS, alcohol and Probiotics? The unexpected relationship.
We all know that probiotics help to decrease IBS symptoms.
Also, alcohol makes your gut more permeable to toxins in your colon, which in-turn enters your bloodstream and hurt your liver and other organs.
I wasn’t routinely prescribing probiotics for patients with IBS flare-ups due to alcohol until I came across this study. The study concludes that alcohol may alter the good bacteria and increase the permeability of intestine to toxins.
The researchers concluded that probiotics are good for both IBS and alcohol drinking. And I personally noticed the overall improvement of symptoms off IBS in my patients who are drinking alcohol.
So, my advice to you is to take probiotic regularly if you have IBS and want to drink alcohol safely.
For the best probiotics for IBS and alcohol, refer to my resources page.
BUT BE AWARE
Never take probiotics and drink alcohol at the same time of the day. Alcohol may kill the good bacteria in your probiotics making it useless.
So, Try to make at least 4 to 5 hours between probiotic intake and alcohol drinking.
- Alcohol can cause IBS flare-up, diarrhea, and gas, but it depends on the amount and type of alcoholic beverage you drink.
- Light alcohol drinking may not affect your IBS.
- Not-drinking alcohol at all is the best option for your IBS.
- Never drink alcohol high in FODMAPs like High-fructose beverages, carbonated alcoholic drinks and alcohols containing artificial sweeteners (diet alcohols).
- Dry wines like red and white wires are low in FODMAP. Also, vodka, whiskey, and Gin are OK to drink with IBS.
- Never take alcohol on empty stomach but try to drink water or eat before you drink.
- Studies proved that probiotics can decrease the effects of alcohol on your IBS.
If you have any concerns about your IBS and alcohol, please comment below and I will respond. thanks!
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Q: Which wines can I drink if I suffer from IBS?—Lisa, Madison, Wisc.
A: Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) is a common gastrointestinal disorder that causes painful abdominal cramping, bloating, diarrhea and/or constipation, symptoms which can sometimes be mitigated through diet. “Food and drinks that are high in FODMAPs (fermentable oligo-, di-, mono-saccharides and polyols) are common triggers for patients with IBS,” says University of Wisconsin gastroenterologist Dr. Ian Grimes. In layman’s terms, that means fermentable carbohydrates like wheat, fruits, vegetables and dairy products. Fructose is among those key FODMAPs to avoid, which means wines that are high in residual sugar, like Port and other dessert or even off-dry wines, may be irritants for IBS sufferers.
” wines are generally a good choice for patients with IBS, as most are low in FODMAPs,” Dr. Grimes told Wine Spectator, “including most red wines, sparkling wines and white wines.” IBS sufferers are also statistically more likely to suffer from gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), which may be aggravated by wines high in sugar and/or alcohol. Consult your physician before incorporating wine into a healthy lifestyle.
Coffee and IBS
Many people – not just those of us with IBS – experience a need to defecate after drinking coffee. Coffee, as well as other caffeinated beverages, can stimulate the body’s intestines, increasing the movement of food through the digestive tract.
Why does coffee trigger IBS symptoms?
If you haven’t seen it, watch this cute video on “Why Does Coffee Make You Poop?”
For people with IBS, caffeine can be a trigger that causes a flare in symptoms, such as diarrhea and abdominal pain. Some people with IBS also are sensitive to dairy products, so adding milk or cream to your morning cup of Joe may also be increasing your IBS symptoms. Of course, not everyone has the same sensitivities, and some people are more susceptible to coffee or dairy as triggers. However, if you are experiencing worse symptoms of IBS early in the day and you drink coffee in the morning, consider that coffee may be a critical factor.
Alternatives to Coffee
Many of us – myself included! – enjoy the taste and ritual of morning coffee. Some of us non-morning people desperately need that morning coffee to get moving. But dealing with intense and painful IBS symptoms gets frustrating, so you may be willing to try some alternatives, such as:
Reduce your coffee intake.
If you drink multiple cups of coffee, try lessening your intake. I’ve found keeping my coffee habit to one cup a day helps my body stay happy and productive without too much impact on my IBS symptoms.
Choose a different brand.
Farming practices vary by product, so switch to a coffee brand that is organic to see if that helps.
Switching to decaf may help, although some people also get triggered by decaffeinated coffee, suggesting there may be other components in coffee that are the actual trigger. Triggers are unique to the individual, so you don’t know what triggers you until you try it (or try eliminating it).
Switch to tea.
There are a variety of tea options that can make a nice morning beverage. Some teas have caffeine, so again, it may take some experimentation to discover if caffeine or coffee (or both) are personal triggers for you.
Try dairy alternatives.
I’m lactose intolerant, so I stopped drinking milk and other dairy products a couple years ago. There are several varieties of non-dairy milk, including soy, hemp, coconut, and almond. (Unsweetened coconut milk is my personal favorite)
Change up your sweetener.
Artificial sweeteners may also be a trigger for some people. If you use artificial sweeteners in your coffee, try a different one or use sugar, honey, or agave instead.
Eliminate it altogether.
If you’ve determined through trial and error that coffee is a serious trigger for you, you may decide that eliminating it altogether is best for your health and well-being.
Can People with IBS Drink Coffee?
Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) affects 10 to 15 percent of adults in the United States according to the American College of Gastroenterology. It causes symptoms such as abdominal pain and cramping, diarrhea, constipation, and urgency.
For most of us, coffee is the wake up beverage of choice. But coffee is also stimulant and stimulants affect bowel function and cause diarrhea in some people.
How Coffee Affects IBS Symptoms
Most people, not just those with IBS, will experience tummy troubles after drinking coffee. Coffee, like other caffeinated drinks, stimulates the stomach intestines and increases the movement of food through your digestive tract.
Unfortunately, one of the hardest dietary changes to make is quitting coffee because caffeine is addictive. Not only that, it is part of American culture.
Withdrawal symptoms of caffeine include painful headaches, loose stools, constipation, sleeplessness, and irritability. But withdrawal symptoms dissipate with time.
But for some people with IBS, giving up coffee might improve their symptoms and overall health.
Why Does Coffee Cause IBS Symptoms?
There are a number of ways that coffee effects IBS.
Coffee stimulates the Gastrointestinal (GI) Tract
Research has shown coffee may cause a laxative effect in people with IBS within four minutes of drinking coffee according to one study out of the University Hospital Utrecht, The Netherlands.
Even small amounts of coffee can have this effect and it’s not just limited to caffeinated coffee; decaffeinated coffee has the same effect.
Caffeine accelerates stress hormones
Stress has been found to slow down or accelerate the bowels resulting in constipation or diarrhea.
Caffeine can accelerate the stress hormones cortisol, adrenaline, and norepinephrine. If the body is in a continual state of increased stress, the gastrointestinal tract becomes irritated, causing cramping, abdominal pain, constipation, and/or diarrhea.
Coffee is Acidic
Because coffee is highly acidic, it can stimulate gastric gases. Both caffeine and coffee fuel gastric acid, but decaffeinated coffee has actually been shown to increase acidity more than regular coffee according to one study in the New England Journal of Medicine.
Because coffee increases acidity and stimulates gastric acids, it may speed up the process of gastric emptying. This results in the stomach contents passing through the small intestine too quickly.
Can Coffee Cause Constipation?
For some people, coffee causes constipation. It can also cause cramping and bowel spasms that keep stools from moving.
This is likely truer for people who drink coffee as a primary drink – especially if you are not drinking enough water.
What Other Options Do You Have?
If you are drinking multiple cups of coffee daily, you may want to lessen your coffee intake. You should also consider other sources of caffeine intake, including sodas or energy drinks.
It is possible that if you cut your caffeine by half your current consumption, you will see fewer IBS symptoms than you are seeing now.
Try a different brand.
Farming practices for coffee are different based on the brand. Trying a different brand, especially organic, may help to reduce some of your IBS symptoms.
Switching to decaffeinated coffee can also help to reduce some your symptoms, although based on the evidence, components of coffee might also be triggers to your IBS symptoms. But triggers are different for each person so it possible decaffeinated coffee may not have the same effect on you.
You May Also Like:What Is the IBS Elimination Diet?
For some people with IBS, dairy may also be a trigger. Rather than using a dairy creamer, try non-dairy milk options, such as almond, coconut, or soy.
Try a different sweetener.
There are no artificial sweeteners that are all-natural and no artificial sweeteners are safe for people with IBS. Rather than using artificial sweeteners in your coffee, try honey, sugar, or agave nectar instead.
Eliminate coffee from your diet.
If you have figured out that coffee is a serious IBS trigger for you, then you may decide that you should stop drinking it altogether. Less caffeine is better for your overall health.
Tea has caffeine too and because it does, it may have the same stimulating effect coffee does. Tea, however, does not have as much caffeine as coffee.
Tea also contains an amino acid called L-Theonine. It is known for its calming and relaxing qualities and having such an effect may calm the stomach bowels and minimize IBS symptoms.
Finding out whether coffee – regular or decaffeinated – has an effect on your IBS takes a trial and error approach. Trying a different brand or minimizing your coffee intake may help you reduce some of your symptoms.
Some of the ingredients you add to coffee, such as dairy products and sweeteners, can also cause you problems. Removing or changing these may also help you to minimize some of the IBS symptoms you have from drinking coffee.
Lastly, if you have tried everything and you still struggle with IBS symptoms after drinking coffee, you could consider alternate options to coffee that do not exacerbate your symptoms. Herbal teas, hot chocolate, and non-caffeine beverages are all good options.
Coffee and disorders of the large intestine
Peristalsis is the process of muscular contraction in the intestines, which encourages the movement of food along the intestine. Coffee can stimulate peristalsis in some individuals21-23.
- A study of 99 individuals suggested that coffee stimulated intestinal movement in 29% of people21.
- Research comparing the effect of regular and decaffeinated coffee on intestinal motility with the same amount of hot water or a full meal of 1,000 calories, showed that the effect of caffeinated coffee was as substantial as the meal, 60% stronger than water, and 23% stronger than decaffeinated coffee22.
- Further work suggests that strong coffee and hot water both have a significant effect on bowel movement23.
There is no indication that coffee causes diarrhoea in healthy adults and it is not possible to draw conclusions about a role for coffee consumption in constipation, since this will depend on the cause and severity of the constipation.
Irritable Bowel Syndrome
Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) is described as a chronic disturbance of the intestine, but the cause is often difficult to specify. The symptoms that patients describe include abnormal bowel motions, stomach pain and bloating; complaints that may also be experienced by those who do not suffer IBS.
- A screening exercise as part of research in the Netherlands suggests that there is no association between IBS and coffee consumption3.
- Further research from Sweden found that 63% of IBS sufferers assume that their symptoms are related to meals, especially foods rich in carbohydrates and fat. In this group, coffee was associated with serious complaints such as dyspepsia and stomach pain by 10% of patients24.
- Results from a questionnaire amongst IBS patients from Switzerland reviewing perceived effects of coffee drinking suggest that over two thirds of patients consumed coffee regularly, with 38% suggesting that coffee drinking has an effect (either positive or negative) on their symptoms. Interestingly, almost half of respondents who claimed to experience a negative impact of coffee consumption continued to regularly consume coffee25.
In 2016 the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) found inadequate evidence to suggest any link between coffee consumption and colorectal cancer31.
- A number of large literature reviews show no association between coffee consumption and colorectal cancer and in fact suggest that moderate coffee consumption could reduce the risk of colorectal cancer36-39.
Further detailed information is available in the Cancer section of the Coffee and Health website here.
Other intestinal disorders
There are many other disorders of the intestine that have a variety of causes, including diverticulitis, inflammatory bowel disease, Crohn’s Disease and ulcerative colitis. There is no indication that coffee influences the course of these disorders. A 2017 systematic review concluded that coffee consumption tends to result in reduced risk of ulcerative colitis, but this finding is not significant and is confounded by smoking40.
This information is intended for Healthcare professional audiences.
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