Alcohol For Heartburn: 33 Tips To Improve Your Health

When dealing with heartburn and reflux, dietary habits, as well as lifestyle choices, are the pillars of everything.

However, in some cases, it’s not so easy to precisely understand the real importance of each factor in determining acid reflux, with subsequent symptoms.

This means that some factors, often considered as causes of disease, do not have the same effect on the people.

Moreover, there are some factors that are much less important than you think.

Personal experience is the key when it comes to understanding the real importance of each risk factor for your health.

There are some general considerations to always remember, however, things may vary.

One of the factors that deserve more attention and careful study is the role played by alcohol for heartburn.

You can find a lot of information around the topic, however, there’s the need to make things clearer.

Alcohol is not good for people who suffer from heartburn and reflux, as a general rule.

However, as in many other cases, things are not so simple and easy.

We must dive deeper to better understand the relationships between alcohol and heartburn, to shed light on little-known aspects of this topic.

Alcohol For Heartburn

Alcohol For Heartburn

As we’ve just anticipated, alcohol is a risk factor for heartburn and reflux.

This because of its specific activity on the digestive system.

First of all, alcohol is able to relax the lower esophageal sphincter (LES).

This is possible because alcohol acts as a depressant

By acting like so, alcohol makes the reflux more likely to occur.

Heartburn is a direct consequence of that.

In addition, alcohol intake causes an increase in the acid secretion of the stomach.

Even if acidity is not the main factor for reflux to occur, a more acidic content has more serious aggression effects on the esophagus linen.

There are two more important things to consider.

Drinking alcohol leads to:

A More Vulnerable Esophagus
This happens because of direct aggression that alcohol exerts against the esophagus. So, when a person has reflux, the acidic content can cause more damage just because the esophageal mucosa is already weakened by the action of alcohol.
Gastritis
This happens because of direct aggression that alcohol exerts against the stomach, in this case. People with gastritis can suffer from heartburn in turn.

This second thing is particularly important because the condition can lead to chronic heartburn, a situation that requires special attention and measures of intervention.

Finally, when the lower oesophageal sphincter relaxes, swallowing may be abnormal, and this leads to heartburn occurrence as well.

Chest hurting after drinking alcohol

It’s not so uncommon to feel a special sensation when it comes to alcohol and other symptoms of reflux, including heartburn.

In fact, many people report really bad heartburn after drinking.

This is partially explained by the previous aggression that alcohol exerts on the esophagus linen, as well as the concomitant (and exacerbated) action of acidic refluxate on it.

But there’s a thing that’s even more interesting, is possible.

In 2017, a study from one of the countries where the problem is more present (Taiwan), showed something to think about with care.

Findings revealed that frequent consumption of alcohol (and tea) increased the risk of asymptomatic erosive esophagitis in Taiwanese men.

This means that, despite the symptoms and the possible chest hurting sensation, alcohol may potentially be able to determine a condition that’s not perceived by the affected person.

More studies and investigations are needed to confirm that, however, this point is of great interest to people dealing with heartburn and reflux.

In fact, they have to work on alcohol consumption despite the absence of common symptoms.

The synergistic action with smoking

Special attention to what happens when drinking alcohol sums its effects on tobacco smoking.

In such cases, for individuals who drink and smoke, odds of esophageal cancer are greater than for using either alcohol or tobacco alone.

Not to mention that these people also have a much higher risk of getting serious heartburn and acid reflux.

A very serious situation, which must be prevented with the utmost attention.

Alcohol And Acid Reflux

In the previous paragraphs, we have considered the direct action of alcohol on the digestive system.

There’s another important thing to add: it’s about the indirect action that alcohol can have on general eating habits.

In fact, often happens that drinking alcohol leads to making less healthy food choices, and eating foods you know can trigger your heartburn.

That’s why you want to consider alcohol as one of the many factors to correct if you want to experience real relief from heartburn and reflux.

Alcohol may play an important role in making things worse for people who suffer from heartburn and reflux.

There’s a study, published in 2019, January, that collects many other studies, tests, and observations about the relationship between alcohol and GERD.

It has been noted that there is a potential association between alcohol drinking and the risk of GERD.

More precisely, an increase in alcohol consumption and frequency showed a stronger association with GERD.

This means that two things are important:

  • The first one, drinking alcohol is a risk factor and it can make things worse for people who suffer from reflux
  • The other one, not just drinking alcohol, but increasing the amount of drunk alcohol also increases (proportionally) the chance of getting GERD

Special precautions have to be taken for people at risk of developing the most serious complication of reflux disease, namely Barret’s esophagus.

Even though there is no certain evidence that drinking alcohol (wine and beer, in particular) can increase the chance of Barret’s esophagus, people with reflux should avoid adding risk to their condition.

Acid reflux after drinking

Drinking alcohol can trigger heartburn and reflux after a bit of time, that’s why you should consider some tips to avoid the typical burning sensation.

Some people experience symptoms almost immediately after drinking even little alcohol.

Others, on the contrary, can drink much more and report mild symptoms.

Personal experience may vary, that’s why you must learn to your organism. This applies to everything has to do with heartburn and acid reflux.

Whatever the case, there are some important recommendations to remember, as a guiding light for preventing a deterioration in the quality of life.

The Diet Journal
You should keep a dieting journal, or diary, and write down all the foods you eat, all drinks, and everything relates to your eating habits. This is important because you can immediately understand if, when and how a certain food, as well as drink, triggers your symptoms.
Drinking Time
You should avoid drinking alcohol from 2 to 3 hours before bedtime. This is important because if you’re lying down before that time, two different actions can lead to heartburn. The first one is the direct action of alcohol, which relaxes the lower esophageal sphincter. The other one is due to the position of the body because when you’re lying down reflux is much more likely to occur (that’s why you must sleep in your LEFT side, to minimize the risk).
Only One Drink
The best thing you can do is reducing the intake of alcohol in any case. This means, for example, no more than 150 ml of 12% wine, which is equal to 1 standard drink. Or a can of beer, if you prefer. The intake of malt liquor and distilled liquor should not exceed the one drink serving quantity.

We can’t be sure that by following these rules no heartburn will appear, however, this is the starting point for reducing the risk.

Wine For Acid Reflux

When it comes to the relationships between wine and acid reflux, things are more complicated than they may seem.

The real point of the question is the following one.

White wine and red wine exert different effects on both the lower esophageal sphincter (LES) and GERD.  This has to be taken into the greatest consideration when healing heartburn and reflux with home-made, natural remedies, that only rely on eating habits and lifestyle.

In general terms, the intake of white wine makes reflux and heartburn episodes more likely to occur if compared with the same amount of red wine.

Red wine, on the contrary, proves to have an even lower effect than the ingestion of tap water.

Everything relates to the pressure of LES.

Drinking white wine makes it significantly lower, so leading to an increased chance for the stomach content to flows back in the esophagus.

But there’s more to consider.

Red wine for acid reflux

Red wine is better than white when it comes to preventing heartburn and reflux, as a general rule.

However, it has a high content of minerals and antioxidants, but it’s also high in yeast and sugars.

Considering that the presence of sugar does mean “more acid”, while the content in minerals means “more alkaline”, there’s something to add.

Red wine still is acidic but less than many other alcoholic beverages, but you still have to be careful about drinking it without a specific control.

The intake of moderate amounts of red wine can increase postprandial esophageal exposure to gastric acid in healthy persons.

However, red wine does not have a significant action on gastric pH and esophageal motility.

White wine and acid reflux

Unlike what we observed for red wine, white wine has a stronger action in promoting reflux and heartburn as a direct consequence.

First of all, it has been noted that white wine keeps the esophageal pH low (<4) for a longer period of time.

This leads to a proportional increase in reflux duration and frequency if compared to water.

More than this, the intake of white wine reduces significantly the pressure of LES.

To sum up, the overall action of white wine for reflux is composed of the two following mechanisms (directly quoted from the original publication):

  • White wine disturbs esophageal clearance due to an increase in simultaneous contractions and in failed peristalsis
  • The second mechanism is the occurrence of repeated reflux events into the esophagus when pH is still acidic from a previous reflux episode

As you can see, white wine is to “handle with care” when it comes to reflux.

Final considerations about wine and acid reflux

Whatever the wine you decide to drink, there are some additional things to remember.

First of all, you should consider organic wine, just because the grape is at high risk for pesticides.

In the long run, this fact can bring you some issues.

The second thing we want to point out is to consider “low-sugar” wines.

This because sugar makes it more acidic and this is bad for people who suffer from reflux (quick tip: dry and crip better than sweet or dessert).

The final thing is to pay attention to the content of sulfites.

You could look for sulfite-free alternatives or use a sulfite filter.

Now, there’s another widely consumed beverage that deserves our attention.

Heartburn From Beer

Beer can induce heartburn and that’s why people who suffer from reflux should reduce the intake of this beverage.

It hs been observed that beer can determine heartburn even in healthy subjects.

The same (with more serious symptoms) is valid for GERD patients.

The intake of beer determines reflux with no difference from men to women, and in people with and without erosive esophagitis.

As a recommendation, these patients should be advised to avoid the intake of large amounts (> or = 300 mL) of beer per day.

Does beer cause heartburn?

Unfortunately, yes.

Beer can induce heartburn similar to what white wine does.

However, as always, things may vary from one person to another.

According to a study released in 2018, the moderate consumption of traditional and alcohol-free beer does not increase dyspeptic symptoms or GERD in healthy subjects.

To make things even worse, we can add some data:

  • Beer is highly acidic, a unique combination of fermentation, yeast, sugars, and wheat
  • Wheat, in particular, makes beer acidic because of the action on insulin (increased levels)
  • It may cause leaky gut
  • It also contains pro-inflammatory Omega-6 fatty acids

There’s another concern: grains are stored, and this exposes them to possible contaminations by mold, as well as fungal mycotoxins which are carcinogenic.

Perhaps this picture is a little too pessimistic, but it’s real and we must consider all aspects when our health is at stake.

Hard cider and acid reflux

This drink is highly acidic and is not recommended for people who suffer from heartburn and acid reflux.

The reason is the high concentration of sugar, which makes this beverage similar to beer.

In addition, the fermentation process and (in some cases) the presence of gluten makes hard cider even more acidic.

That’s why we include it on the list of prohibited drinks.

Liquor and acid reflux

This is another drink to avoid.

Liquors are super-sweetened alcohol like Grand Marnier and Bailey’s, just to name a few.

These drinks are not only very acidic but also have zero nutritional value.

Special tip: you want to avoid any alcohol with added sweeteners. The same is valid for premixed drinks. Unfortunately, they often are sold right alongside straight alcohol without the added ingredients.

This makes things difficult to recognize. An example?

You can find premixed margaritas right next to the tequila.

And they are so different alcoholic drinks, as we’re going to see in the next paragraphs.

So, try to know in advance what are the ingredients to avoid added sugar, artificial sweeteners, or preservatives, as much as you can.

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Best Alcohol For Acid Reflux

Not all alcoholic beverages/drinks have the same effect, that’s why we have to deepen more about that.

First of all, however, there’s an important thing to consider.

There is no clear evidence that reducing alcohol consumption decreases symptoms of acid reflux as a direct consequence.

That’s why is so important to work on dietary habits and lifestyle.

You can’t remove alcohol from your diet and expect great benefits, in the absence of other, even more, important things to do.

In spite of the general risk, and given the differences among such beverages, there are some drins that do not trigger reflux, or, at least, you can drink them with more safety than all others.

Best alcoholic drinks for acid reflux

For sure, low-proof alcoholic beverages are to avoid.

It has been demonstrated that low-proof alcoholic beverages are a strong trigger of GERD.

However, they do not have an effect on other digestive disorders, like DGERD (duodenal-gastro-esophageal reflux).

You must choose different drinks, and there are at least 4 you can drink without specific risk for reflux and subsequent heartburn.

That said, please always remember that they can have serious health effects, and must be consumed with extreme attention.

Let’s discover what they are.

Vodka and acid reflux

Vodka is suggested when it’s made of grapes.

There are several variants you should also consider.

They are:

  • Sugar beets derived vodka
  • Potatoes derived vodka, and
  • Corn derived vodka

Other vodka types contain wheat, or similar grains, meaning that gluten is present (however, most of it is filtered out).

This makes the drink more acidic, that’s why they are not suggested for people who suffer from heartburn and reflux.

Whiskey and acid reflux

The whiskey family is an interesting case when it comes to alcoholic drinks for reflux sufferers.

In fact, they are all made from grains including wheat and can contain trace amounts of gluten.

Nowadays, there’s a lot of buzz around gluten, and/or gluten-free foods/beverages.

So, what’s the point?

There’s a general rule to remember. We quote it directly from its original source.

The clearer and harder the alcohol, the better. Darker or opaque drinks with less alcohol content are usually more acidic.

This means that all of the alcohol we can find in the “whiskey family” are “hard drinks”.

They are lower in sugar, close to clear.

Hard liquor is generally less acidic because of its production method.

There’s a fermentation process first, then a distillation, and this is when water, sugar, carbohydrates, and impurities, are removed.

Rum and acid reflux

Rum presents a quite unexpected quality.

In fact, despite being made from sugar cane, the final product does not have any sugar.

In addition, it does not contain gluten, not even preservatives.

This is is definitely good for people who suffer from reflux and subsequent heartburn.

That’s why rum, despite the popular belief, is a relatively alkaline beverage.

Gin and acid reflux

Gin is the least acidic drink you can find.

This quality alone makes it the likely “best” choice for people who want to enjoy the taste of an alcoholic beverage but they are afraid to trigger heartburn.

But, what makes gin such a good option?

This drink does not contain any sugar, and it’s distilled, but there’s more.

It’s made from botanicals like juniper, licorice, or coriander. This is important, because of what we’ve considered above about sugar vs minerals.

Juniper, licorice, coriander, they all have a significant mineral content, which makes the final product much less acidic.

Finally, there’s something to say about the typical taste of gin.

It has a unique flavor, and this makes gin the best alternative to flavored liquors.

Tequila and acid reflux

We want to conclude our shortlist of the best drinks for people who suffer from heartburn and reflux with tequila.

In fact, there’s a lot of confusion around the topic.

Tequila is made from 100% Blue agave, which is also used to produce a sweetener.

The Blue agave-derived sweetener is not so “healthy”, because of its content of fructose.

However, due to the specific tequila production process, the final drink is sugar-free.

This means that tequila is a good choice, unlike all other agave-derived products.

Conclusions

Alcohol for heartburn is a widely discussed topic, and we hope that what we’ve presented here can be of any help.

However, to make things clearer, we want to point out the 33 takeaways to remember.

The list is below.

Takeaways
#1) Alcohol is not good for people who suffer from heartburn and reflux, as a general rule.

#2) Alcohol is able to relax the lower esophageal sphincter (LES).

#3) Alcohol intake causes an increase in the acid secretion of the stomach.

#4) Drinking alcohol leads to a more vulnerable esophagus and also gastritis.

#5) Many people report really bad heartburn after drinking.

#6) The frequent consumption of alcohol can increase the risk of asymptomatic erosive esophagitis.

#7) For individuals who drink and smoke, odds of esophageal cancer are greater than for using either alcohol or tobacco alone.

#8) Drinking alcohol may lead to making less healthy food choices, and eating foods you know can trigger your heartburn.

#9) There is a potential association between alcohol drinking and the risk of GERD.

#10) Some people experience heartburn almost immediately after drinking even little alcohol.

#11) You should keep a dieting journal, or diary, and write down all the foods you eat, all drinks, and everything relates to your eating habits.

#12) You should avoid drinking alcohol from 2 to 3 hours before bedtime.

#13) Drink no more than 150 ml of 12% wine, or a can of beer; the intake of malt liquor and distilled liquor should not exceed the one drink serving quantity.

#14) White wine and red wine exert different effects on both the lower esophageal sphincter (LES) and GERD.

#15) The intake of white wine makes reflux and heartburn episodes more likely to occur if compared with the same amount of red wine.

#16) Red wine, on the contrary, proves to have an even lower effect than the ingestion of tap water.

#17) You should consider drinking organic wine, just because the grape is at high risk for pesticides.

#18) You should consider drinking “low-sugar” wines.

#19) You could look for sulfite-free alternatives or use a sulfite filter.

#20) Beer can induce heartburn and that’s why people who suffer from reflux should reduce the intake of this beverage.

#21) Beer can determine heartburn even in healthy subjects.

#22) Patients should be advised to avoid the intake of large amounts (> or = 300 mL) of beer per day.

#23) Grains for making beer are stored, and this exposes them to possible contaminations by mold, as well as fungal mycotoxins which are carcinogenic.

#24) Hard cider is highly acidic and is not recommended for people who suffer from heartburn and acid reflux.

#25) Liquors are super-sweetened alcohol like Grand Marnier and Bailey’s, just to name a few, and they must be avoided.

#26) Try to know in advance what are the ingredients to avoid added sugar, artificial sweeteners, or preservatives, as much as you can.

#27) There is no clear evidence that reducing alcohol consumption decreases symptoms of acid reflux as a direct consequence.

#28) Low-proof alcoholic beverages are to avoid.

#29) Vodka is suggested when it’s made of grapes.

#30) The clearer and harder the alcohol, the better. Darker or opaque drinks with less alcohol content are usually more acidic.

#31) Rum, despite the popular belief, is a relatively alkaline beverage (that’s why is good to drink for heartburn sufferers).

#32) Gin is the least acidic drink you can find, so you can drink it safely (for what concerns reflux).

#33) Tequila is a good choice, unlike all other agave-derived products.

Alcohol has to be consumed with moderation in all cases, both from reflux sufferers and healthy people.

However, it’s important to know that not all alcoholic drinks do the same when acid reflux is present.

Some drinks are more likely to determine heartburn episodes, while others behave differently.

Things are quite complex, that’s wy informed decisions, and personal experience, are the key.

What To Do Next

In order for you to reduce heartburn frequency and intensity, you have to work on eating habits and lifestyle.

Only thinking about alcohol is not enough.

That’s why you want to rely on the best information resources.

We strongly recommend checking one (or more) of the following strategies, that also consider alcohol with more tips, ideas, suggestions, and recipes to include in your diet.

The Proven Holistic 5-Step System


One of the best strategies. Its strength point is the holistic approach, which means that you're going to care about all aspects that may affect your organism, in 5 steps. Also known as "Heartburn No More".

The Three Everyday Ingredients


This strategy works on underestimated aspects, such as food combinations that are much more important than avoiding certain types of foods. Also known as "The Acid Reflux Strategy".

The Double Protocol For Reflux


It targets two conditions at the same time: acid reflux and infection by H. pylori. Quick warning: this book is not suitable for all reflux sufferers. Also known as "Rapid Reflux Relief".

The Reflux Remedy Kit


This is a book + kit that presents some little known and creative natural remedies for heartburn and acid reflux. A good integration. Also known as "Heartburn & Acid Reflux Remedy Report".

As you can see, there’s a lot to consider and to read.

For the moment, we thank you so much for your interest and patience.

Stay tuned for more!

3 Comments

  1. Barbara L
    • Dr.Gray
    • Dr.Gray

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