Skip links
Alcohol and Ulcerative Colitis Can Drinking Wine Trigger Flare-Ups

Alcohol and Ulcerative Colitis: Can Drinking Wine Trigger Flare-Ups?


If you’ve been living with ulcerative colitis (UC) for so long, you’re no stranger to the challenges that come with this chronic inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). Managing your diet and lifestyle becomes paramount in controlling symptoms and preventing flare-ups. 

But when there’s a special occasion, and you just want to indulge in a glass of wine, you may wonder whether it’s safe. Can you drink wine or any alcohol with ulcerative colitis, or is it a potential trigger for flare-ups? 

Let’s find the answer to this question together and hopefully shed some light on the effect of drinking alcohol on those with ulcerative colitis.

Table of Contents

The Impact of Alcohol on Ulcerative Colitis

Ulcerative colitis is a condition that affects the gastrointestinal system. To understand how the disease operates, here are some key points:

  • Inflammation in the Colon: Ulcerative colitis involves chronic inflammation in the colon and rectum. This inflammation leads to different symptoms, including abdominal pain, diarrhea, rectal bleeding, and fatigue.
  • Triggers Vary: While the exact cause of ulcerative colitis is still unclear, certain factors, including genetics, diet, and the gut microbiome, may contribute to the development of the disease. Triggers for flare-ups can vary from person to person, making it essential to identify your specific triggers.
  • Medications and Management: Managing ulcerative colitis often involves medications that aim to reduce inflammation and control symptoms. Additionally, dietary and lifestyle adjustments are crucial for maintaining remission and preventing relapses.

Now that we understand what ulcerative colitis is, let’s discover why alcohol, including wine, can have specific effects on individuals with this condition.

Gastrointestinal Irritation

Alcohol is known to irritate the gastrointestinal tract and cause inflammation. For someone with ulcerative colitis, this irritation can potentially lead to increased inflammation and discomfort. 


It’s well-known that alcohol is a diuretic, which means it can lead to increased urination and dehydration. Dehydration is a known trigger for flare-ups in people with ulcerative colitis, especially if they drink alcohol. If you must drink alcohol, consume plenty of water before and after consuming alcohol, and avoid heavy or binge drinking.

Medication Interactions

Some medications prescribed for ulcerative colitis may interact negatively with alcohol. For instance, alcohol can reduce the effectiveness of drugs such as corticosteroids or immunosuppressants.

Nutrient Absorption 

Alcohol can obstruct the absorption of essential nutrients, which is concerning for individuals with a condition that already affects nutrient absorption. It’s important to maintain a balanced diet and consult a registered dietitian specializing in IBD to ensure the absorption of necessary nutrients.

Drinking Wine: What are Sulfites?

Alcohol and Ulcerative Colitis Can Drinking Wine Trigger Flare-Ups 2

Now, let’s talk about wine in particular. In winemaking, sulfites are sulfur-based compounds commonly used as preservatives. They serve important functions, such as preventing spoilage, oxidation, and the growth of unwanted microorganisms in the wine. 

Sulfites are natural byproducts of the fermentation process. Winemakers often add extra sulfites to maintain wine quality and shelf life. Sulfites can also be found in other foods and beverages, serving a similar preservative role. They are used in dried fruits, fruit juices, canned vegetables, and some processed meats.

However, the presence of sulfites in wine can be a point of concern for individuals with ulcerative colitis. Here’s why:

  • Sensitivity Variability: Some people with ulcerative colitis may have heightened sensitivity to sulfites. Sulfites can potentially trigger symptoms like abdominal discomfort, bloating, diarrhea, or exacerbate existing gastrointestinal issues.
  • Potential Trigger: While not everyone with ulcerative colitis is sensitive to sulfites, for those who are, consuming wine or other sulfite-containing foods or beverages can lead to discomfort or even trigger flare-ups.

How to Manage Sulfite Sensitivity with Ulcerative Colitis

If you suspect that sulfites in wine or other foods may be contributing to your ulcerative colitis symptoms, here are some tips to consider:

1. Asses your sensitivity level.

Keep a food and symptom diary to help identify potential triggers, including sulfite-containing foods or drinks. Consult with your doctor to discuss symptoms and explore whether sulfite sensitivity could be a factor.

2. Read labels.

Check the labels on wine bottles and packaged foods to identify products that contain sulfites. Sulfites are sometimes listed under different names, such as sulfur dioxide or sulfurous acid.

Look for wines labeled as “sulfite-free” or “low-sulfite” if you are concerned about sulfite content.

3. Choose wines with lower sulfite levels.

Some wines naturally have lower sulfite levels. For instance, organic wines often contain fewer sulfites. 

Additionally, certain winemakers may focus on producing wines with minimal sulfite additions. Look for information on the winery’s website or contact them directly to inquire about their winemaking practices.

4. Consider other wine alternatives.

If you find that sulfite-containing wine exacerbates your symptoms, consider exploring non-alcoholic alternatives. Non-alcoholic wine or grape juice can provide a similar wine-like experience without the sulfite content.

5. Moderation is key.

If you choose to drink wine with sulfites, remember the importance of moderation. Consuming small amounts and spacing out your intake can reduce the potential for adverse effects.

6. Consult with your doctor.

If you suspect sulfite sensitivity and its connection to your ulcerative colitis symptoms, discuss this with your healthcare provider. They can help you navigate dietary choices and explore potential sensitivities through testing or assessments.

Sulfites in wine are a potential concern for individuals with ulcerative colitis, as they can trigger symptoms or discomfort in those who are sensitive. It’s important to be aware of the presence of sulfites in wine and other foods and beverages and to make informed choices based on your body’s responses.

Ultimately, the impact of sulfites on individuals with ulcerative colitis can vary significantly from person to person. The key is to listen to your body and make dietary choices that align with your unique sensitivities and needs. By doing so, you can enjoy a fulfilling and comfortable lifestyle while managing your condition effectively.

Honest Kids Goodness Grapeness, Grape Organic Fruit Juice Drink, 6.75 fl oz (32 Pack)
Honest Kids Goodness Grapeness, Grape Organic Fruit Juice Drink, 6.75 fl oz (32 Pack)
Enjoy Honest Kids Goodness Grapeness, a goodness-graciously delicious organic juice; No high-fructose corn syrup, no added sugar
$27.95 Amazon Prime
Ocean Spray Cran-Grape Juice Cups 4 Ounce (Pack of 48)
Ocean Spray Cran-Grape Juice Cups 4 Ounce (Pack of 48)
48 individual single serve hassia cups; No artificial flavors or preservatives and contains 100% Vitamin C
$26.95 Amazon Prime

Tips and Considerations When Drinking Alcohol

Alcohol and Ulcerative Colitis Can Drinking Wine Trigger Flare-Ups 3

The decision to consume wine with ulcerative colitis is a personal one and should be made carefully. Before you open that glass of alcohol, here are some tips to consider.

1. Get approval.

Your healthcare provider knows your medical history, current symptoms, and medications better than anyone. Before making any decisions regarding alcohol consumption, consult with them and get a “go” signal. 

They’ll provide personalized advice based on your unique situation. They may also suggest specific dietary modifications or restrictions that apply to you.

2. Limit consumption.

If your doctor gives you the green light for moderate alcohol consumption, emphasize moderation. Limit your intake to a small glass of wine and space it out. Consuming alcohol in moderation reduces the potential for adverse effects.

3. Know your triggers.

Ulcerative colitis triggers can be different for each person. Some individuals might find that alcohol, including wine, is a trigger for their symptoms, while others may tolerate it better. 

Pay close attention to how your body responds, and if you notice any adverse effects, reconsider your choices. Keep a symptom journal to track your responses to different foods and drinks.

4. Choose wisely: red vs. white wine,

Some individuals with ulcerative colitis find that red wine, with its higher tannin content, is more problematic than white wine. Tannins are compounds in grape skins and seeds, and they can be harsh on the digestive system. Drink cautiously and note your body’s reaction.

5. Keep hydrated.

To offset the dehydrating effects of alcohol, ensure you’re staying well-hydrated. Drink plenty of water before and after consuming wine. Dehydration can significantly worsen ulcerative colitis symptoms, so maintaining good hydration is key.

To Drink or Not to Drink?

The answer to the question of whether you can drink wine with ulcerative colitis isn’t one-size-fits-all. It’s a decision that should be approached cautiously, focusing on moderation, understanding your body’s unique responses, and consulting your healthcare provider. 

By following these tips and considering the potential risks and benefits, you’ll have an informed choice that best suits your condition. Remember that managing ulcerative colitis is a journey, and you should make choices that promote your overall well-being.

Are you tired of the constant struggle with inflammatory bowel disease?

It’s time to reclaim your freedom and vitality by reading “The Freedom Blueprint”.

The author eliminated his chronic illness after 18 years.

Discover ground-breaking alternatives to medication and hospital visits, explore new eating habits and learn how to eliminate harmful toxins from your life.

Understand the role of gut microbiota imbalances, pesticides, water quality, and more in aggravating diseases like Ulcerative Colitis.

You don’t have to live in discomfort and distress.


This website participates in the Amazon Associates Program. Posts may contain links that result in an affiliate commission for the site owners if a qualifying purchase is made.


Suffering from Ulcerative Colitis or Crohn’s Disease?

After 18 years of suffering, I am finally free.

Learn how I did it without medication. GET YOUR LIFE BACK.