Drinking alcohol during a rich meal slows down digestion, but doesn't increase indigestion

December 15, 2010

People can be reassured that while alcohol may slow down digestion after a rich calorific meal, enjoyed by many during the Christmas season, it will not cause indigestion symptoms such as heartburn, belching and bloating, finds research in the Christmas issue published in the British Medical Journal today.

In order to determine the effects of on the digestive system when rich meals are consumed, investigators at the University Hospital of Zurich, led by Dr Mark Fox now at the Queens Medical Centre in Nottingham, studied 20 individuals who either drank wine or black tea with cheese fondue followed by cherry liqueur or water as a digestive after the famous Swiss dish.

Fox and colleagues say that while they concentrated on fondue the results of their research "can be generalised to address the wider issue of alcohol's effects on digestion and digestive comfort after any large, rich meal of the kind we all enjoy over the festive season".

Twenty healthy volunteers (14 male and six female) aged between 23 and 58 took part in the study. None of the participants had a history of or stomach disease. They had an average (BMI) of 23.6 and none were taking prescription medicine.

The participants were tested on two days at least one week apart. Half of the group drank with their fondue and the other half drank . This was followed by a cherry liqueur digestive (schnapps) or water 90 minutes later.

The research team used established scientific breath tests to assess the effects of alcohol consumption on the digestive system.

The results show that the process of digestion was much slower in the group that drank alcohol with their fondue. However the results also demonstrate that alcohol did not contribute to an increase in indigestion problems such as heartburn, belching and bloating.

The authors conclude that "healthy readers should be reassured that they can continue to enjoy this traditional meal with the beverage of their choice without undue concern about postprandial digestive discomfort".

Related Stories

Recommended for you

One in 4 women and 1 in 6 men aged 65+ will be physically disabled in Europe by 2047

October 23, 2017
By 2047 one in four women and one in six men aged 65 and above is expected to be living with a physical disability that will severely restrict everyday activities, reveals an analysis published in the online journal BMJ Open.

Protein regulates vitamin A metabolic pathways, prevents inflammation

October 23, 2017
A team of researchers from Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine have discovered how uncontrolled vitamin A metabolism in the gut can cause harmful inflammation. The discovery links diet to inflammatory diseases, ...

New insights into controversial diagnosis of adolescent chronic fatigue

October 23, 2017
Crucial new research could provide some clarity around the controversy surrounding the diagnosis and treatment of chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) in adolescents. The research by the Murdoch Children's Research Institute published ...

Do boys really have a testosterone spurt at age four?

October 23, 2017
The idea that four-year-old boys have a spurt of testosterone is often used to explain challenging behaviour at this age.

Our laws don't do enough to protect our health data

October 23, 2017
Have you ever wondered why your computer often shows you ads that seem tailor-made for your interests? The answer is big data. By combing through extremely large datasets, analysts can reveal patterns in your behavior.

New prevention exercise programme to reduce rugby injuries

October 23, 2017
A new dynamic 20-minute exercise programme, performed by rugby players before training and pre-match, could dramatically reduce injuries in the sport according to a benchmark study published today (Sunday 22 October).

1 comment

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

gwrede
5 / 5 (1) Dec 15, 2010
This has to be a joke.

The sample is small, and it is not representative. For example, I can't drink red wine with a meal, so I probably wouldn't have volunteered. (I have no problem with food or red wine separately.) And there was only one kind of food.

I hope this was a "holiday season thing" and not a real article. But really, PhysOrg should have /some/ criteria for publishing stuff.

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.