Can Dry January Improve Bladder and Bowel Symptoms?

Originally published on: January 17th, 2018. Last modified on February 28th, 2022

After Christmas indulgences, many of us resolve to improve our health and fitness in the new year. In fact, this year according to statistics ‘health and fitness’ is the most popular New Year’s Resolution for people in the UK.

If you’re looking to improve your health and fitness – and this doesn’t necessarily mean training to run a marathon – you might be looking to make some simple lifestyle changes such as taking a daily walk, increasing your mobility through an exercise class, or adjusting your diet.

One of the ways that we can make a positive difference health-wise is to reduce our alcohol consumption. Did you know that alcohol can have an affect on your bladder and bowel? Therefore, by reducing alcohol intake, you can actually help to improve certain bladder and bowel symptoms, as well as providing you with better energy levels and general wellbeing through improved sleep.

It’s advised to always speak to your GP or healthcare professional before making any drastic changes to your diet or exercise routine, so if you’re in any doubt do get some help. However the following may help you understand what impact this can all have on your bladder, and on your bowel.

Red Wine - Dry January and Effects on Bladder and Bowel

So here’s the lowdown. How does alcohol affect the bladder and bowel?

Alcohol and the Bladder

  • Alcohol acts as a diuretic meaning that it will increase your urine production and the frequency in which you need to pass urine
  • This excess urine production can lead to dehydration and more concentrated urine
  • Concentrated urine that sits in the bladder can cause irritation and inflammation in the bladder lining
  • Alcoholic beverages generally contain a lot of sugar, which can also cause irritation in the bladder
  • Alcohol can increase frequency and urgency symptoms if you have an overactive or sensitive bladder
  • You are more likely to develop a urinary tract infection if your urine is concentrated

Alcohol and the Bowel

  • Alcohol can cause both constipation and diarrhoea
  • Alcohol leads to dehydration, which can affect peristalsis (contractions in the bowel) and slow down bowel motility
  • Alcohol can cause irritation and inflammation in the gut, which can cause diarrhoea
  • If you already suffer from a condition such as irritable bowel syndrome, alcohol can increase urgency and frequency symptoms

So if you suffer from a bladder or bowel disorder, reducing or cutting out alcohol can help to reduce any irritation or inflammation in the bladder or bowel that could exacerbate any urgency or frequency symptoms. By cutting down on alcohol, you will likely be reducing your sugar intake, which is another major inflammatory factor in the bladder and bowel.

General Benefits of Reducing Alcohol Consumption

A further benefit from cutting down on, or eliminating alcohol is that you can improve your Mental Health₃. As alcohol is a depressant, over time this can affect the chemicals in your brain that help regulate mental health, resulting in feelings of depression or anxiety.

You may also benefit from brighter skin, and better energy levels. Reducing alcohol can actually improve sleep, which in turn has a positive effect on so many other aspects of our health and wellbeing.

To minimise health risks associated with drinking alcohol, the UK Chief Medical Officers guide us not to consume more than 14 uniter per week on a regular basis.

You may well save some money too!

As with any dietary change, it is down to choice and the key is moderation. If you are experiencing any frequency or urgency symptoms, it is worth reducing your alcohol intake to see if this helps your symptoms in any way.

Further advice is available should you need more support with overactive bladder treatments.


References

YouGov

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Drink Aware