For many people, cider, wine, or water will be a better bet.
While the morning after a night out might leave anyone feeling like their body and beer just don’t mix, some people literally cannot tolerate beer, or at least certain ingredients in it. If a bottle of brew and your body don’t jive, drinking it can be disruptive for your health, not just your Sunday morning plans, unfortunately. Meaning, it’s not the kind of thing you want to just weather.
According to nutritional counselor and advanced practitioner Elizabeth Trattner, A.P., L.Ac., N.C.C.A.O.M, one way to find out if your body can tolerate beer is if you immediately bloat and feel like you have to open your pants after drinking it. If that sounds like you, then it may be time to investigate if you should give up beer and try something else at your next happy hour. Because having a drink, or two, shouldn’t coincide with miserable side effects.
Technically, you may be able to consume grains, hops, and yeast in other forms — like breads — but once these ingredients are brewed and consumed as alcohol, properties change and so can your reaction. You don’t have to have a specific allergy to an ingredient in beer to be sensitive to beer itself.
Extreme bloating, discomfort, or upset stomach are just some of the more obvious warning signs that you have a beer allergy. But there are many symptoms that can present themselves in the case of an intolerance. It’s good to know what to look out for so you can get to know your body better, and update your future bar order accordingly.
Obviously, if you’ve been downing drinks of any kind, your brain is bound to feel a bit fuzzy. However, if you feel as though you are excessively tired or not thinking clearly after some light drinking, it may be your body’s way of signaling an allergic reaction.
Functional medicine practitioner Will Cole, I.F.M.C.P., D.N.M., tells Bustle that fatigue after drinking beer is a sign your body can’t tolerate it. Of course, if it’s late at night and you start to feel sleepy, you might actually just be tired, so it’s important to be aware of your circumstances when fatigue comes. If you weren’t tired before you started drinking, or became quickly tired after you started, you might be having an allergic reaction.
According to the National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, drinking beer can lead to inflammation in the gut and, after consistent drinking, can increase your risk of liver disease. Certified health coach Isadora Baum, C.H.C. explains that because beer passes through the body very quickly, it can lead to increased irritation in your intestines. Plus, it dehydrates you, which exacerbates all of beer’s effects.
The problem with determining if you’re dealing with inflammation however, is that it’s not easy to detect, as it’s an internal condition. According to Informed Health, inflammation is an immune response to something that your body is irritated by. It can present in the form of aches and pains, indigestion, swollen lymph nodes, a stuffy nose, headaches, or skin rashes. If you notice any of these symptoms, call your doctor.
While anxiety after drinking can come for many reasons, Cole explains that many of his patients who have a beer intolerance report feeling anxious shortly after drinking it. If you find yourself feeling consistently anxious after only having one or two beers, it may be a sign of your body rejecting it.
There are few things more uncomfortable than being really, truly bloated. Not being able to digest ingredients in beer such as barley can lead to excessive bloating, according to Mount Sinai Hospital. But because all carbonated drinks have the ability to cause bloating, this symptom might be harder to isolate, especially if you’re only experiencing it mildly. If you swap out your beer for a seltzer and experience the same discomfort, you might just be sensitive to bubbly drinks.
If one of the ingredients in alcohol might mildly disturb your stomach in its solid form, it’s possible that it’s going to wreck havoc on your stomach in beer form. That’s because alcohol inherently speeds up your metabolism, according to a study in Clinics in Liver Disease. Read: even if you don’t have a sensitivity to beer, it can cause diarrhea.
Having puffy eyes after a night of drinking makes sense. But swollen, irritated eyes shortly after having a drink could be a sign that your body isn’t tolerating it, according to Trattner. Any kind of inflamed reaction should be taken to an allergist to see what the culprit could be.
If you’re unsure if it’s beer that’s causing these reactions, try avoiding alcohol, switching to gluten free drinks like cider or wine, or try a gluten-free beer. If the symptoms still persist, your doctor can help you figure out if it’s an intolerance, an allergy, or something else altogether. According to the Mayo Clinic, blood tests can help to more accurately pin-point what’s going on in your body and see if you’re producing allergy antibodies when beer is in your system.
Elizabeth Trattner, A.P., L.Ac., N.C.C.A.O.M.
Will Cole, I.F.M.C.P., D.N.M.
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