Coffee Consumption: How To Avoid Gastrointestinal Problems

Coffee is one of the most popular drinks – not only – for Germans. But the consumption of the beloved hot drink often causes symptoms such as heartburn, abdominal pain or flatulence. A nutritionist explains how such gastrointestinal problems can be avoided.

Many people can’t start their day until they’ve got a morning jolt from coffee. However, this morning routine causes stomach problems for some. But if you follow a few recommendations, you don’t have to do without the delicious hot drink.

Heartburn and gas

“The acid or fat content in coffee can cause gastrointestinal problems such as heartburn and flatulence,” explains registered nutritionist Andrea Dunn in a recent article by the renowned Cleveland Clinic (USA).

Drinking caffeinated coffee increases the amount of acid that is already in the stomach, which eases the effects of acid reflux and heartburn, the expert explains.

Coffee has its positive and negative sides. “But there are many low-acid options you can try to manage your symptoms,” says Dunn.

Less acidic alternatives

Caffeine and caffeic acid are the main culprits in why coffee can clog your stomach. “Caffeine is a natural stimulant, but it also increases the contractions in the digestive tract and the production of stomach acid,” says the nutritionist.

Depending on the type of coffee you drink, it can also contain high levels of acids, which make food easier to digest and make you run to the bathroom more urgently.

Coffee with a high acid content includes coffee made from arabica beans and lightly roasted coffee.

But there are alternatives that are less acidic. Dunn lists some of them:

Dark roasts
Dark roast coffees tend to be less acidic because they contain fewer compounds that cause stomach cells to produce acid.

Espressobohnen
Because it takes less time to brew an espresso or a hot espresso drink, it reduces the acid that ends up in your cup.

Cold Brew
Cold brew is made by soaking ground coffee in cold water or room temperature water for 12 to 24 hours. The long steeping process in combination with the cooler temperatures of the brew produces fewer bitter substances and therefore less acid.

Low acidity coffee
“Nowadays you can find coffee specialties whose beans and ground coffee contain less acid,” says Dunn.

Mushroom or chicory coffee blends
This is a new trend in the wide world of coffee and it tastes better than it sounds. Mushrooms are also associated with health benefits – one of which is reducing inflammation. Chicory has been used as a drink since the 19th century. Chicory coffee is made from the roots of the chicory plant, which are roasted, ground and brewed into a coffee-like drink.

Adjust coffee drinking habits

Some changes in your coffee drinking habits can also save you from gastrointestinal problems and allow you to take advantage of all the health benefits that coffee has to offer:

  • Don’t drink coffee on an empty stomach
  • Limit the daily amount to no more than three to four cups
  • Switch from cream to low-fat milk or use low-sugar almond, soy, or oat milk
  • Use a paper filter instead of a metal filter as paper will trap more acids that would otherwise flow into the cup

If heartburn and gas continue to be a problem, speak to your health care provider.

Drinks like matcha, green tea, black tea or kombucha contain caffeine but have different effects on the body. (ad)

Author and source information

This text complies with the requirements of specialist medical literature, medical guidelines and current studies and has been checked by medical professionals.

Sources:

  • Cleveland Clinic: Why Does Coffee Bother My Stomach?, (Abruf: 09.10.2021), Cleveland Clinic

Important NOTE:
This article is for general guidance only and is not intended to be used for self-diagnosis or self-treatment. He can not substitute a visit at the doctor.

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