For many of us, coffee is the one thing that gets us out of bed in the morning. But, sadly, not everyone’s stomach agrees with their daily dose of caffeine.
For example, you may have noticed an increased amount of heartburn or discomfort in your esophagus after drinking your morning coffee, and you might be wondering why that is.
Coffee can cause acid reflux. This is due to the high acidity and caffeine level in most coffee bean mixes. It’s also important to note that some people are more susceptible to acid reflux based on the acidity of foods they regularly consume or if they have an underlying condition like GERD.
In the rest of this article, I’ll cover why coffee can cause acid reflux, how having GERD will affect your coffee tolerance, ways to combat the issue, and what long-term effects can untreated acid reflux cause.
Therefore, if you’d like to learn a little more about what your morning cup of coffee can do to your body, make sure to stick around.
Why coffee can cause acid reflux
The main reason why coffee is so commonly linked as a trigger for acid reflux is that the caffeine content in some of the most commonly used beans can increase acid production in the stomach while relaxing the esophagus, resulting in symptoms of acid reflux.
There’s a lot of research on whether acid reflux and coffee consumption are actually linked, and a lot of the data is inconclusive. This seems to be because some people are more susceptible to caffeine and coffee acidity than others.
The caffeine in the coffee can cause the muscles around the esophagus to relax, allowing the increased acidity from the beans to escape the stomach more easily.
Moreover, there are a few foods and other factors that can increase someone’s acidity levels in their body, potentially making them more sensitive to coffee.
Foods that increase acidity and can make you more sensitive to acid reflux include:
- Greasy or fried foods
- Fatty cuts of meat
- Tomatoes and tomato-based dishes
- Processed foods
- Chili powder
- Overly spicy food
These are a few of the foods that can play a part in increasing acid in the stomach and can make it difficult for coffee drinkers to comfortably enjoy their daily fix. (Source)
So if you’re experiencing frequent heartburn or other symptoms of acid reflux, an excellent place to start is making a change in your diet.
Changing up your diet to lower the acidity can make a remarkable difference, and you may notice your coffee not bothering you as much as usual.
Sticking to a healthy diet of whole foods, fruits, veggies, and lean proteins will help to lower the acidity level in your body.
GERD can increase coffee acid reflux sensitivity
GERD (Gastroesophageal reflux disease) is a disease where increased acid production from the stomach washes back up into the esophagus.
Therefore, this acid can irritate the esophageal lining and eventually result in damage if left untreated.
People with GERD tend to have an increased amount of acid reflux and the symptoms that go along with it.
If you experience acid reflux at least two times a week, it’s considered GERD, though if you experience severe acid reflux irregularly, it can also fall under the GERD category.
A health study published on Clinical Gastroenterology and Hepatology shows that those who regularly drink coffee, tea, and soda are at increased risk for developing GERD symptoms.
In contrast, those that consume water can reduce their risk of developing GERD.
Since people suffering from GERD have an increased sensitivity to acidic foods and drinks, it’s essential that they do their best to cut them out where they can.
For example, since most types of coffee are high in acidity, people suffering from GERD should enjoy the beverage infrequently and do their best to find low acid coffee grounds.
Can I drink coffee if I have acid reflux?
Not being able to enjoy your morning cup of coffee can feel like the end of the world if you suffer from chronic acid reflux problems. However, you don’t have to give up your favorite drink completely. There are just a few changes you’ll have to make.
You can drink coffee if you’re having acid reflux so long as you choose a coffee with low acidity. Low acid coffee or cold brew should prevent your stomach from getting irritated. However, it’s still important to enjoy low acid coffee in moderation just to be safe.
If you still notice that low acid coffee is irritating your stomach, it’s best to cut the drink from your diet, try acid reflux meds, consult a physician, or try another low acid brand in order to keep your body healthy and happy.
How to combat acid reflux from coffee
If you’re experiencing frequent heartburn or acid reflux from coffee, you shouldn’t lose hope just yet. There are several ways that you can combat acid reflux and still be able to enjoy your favorite beverage occasionally.
Here are a few strategies that can help reduce your acid reflux:
- Take acid-reducing medications. Many doctors will prescribe medication to reduce heartburn and acid reflux, though there are a few acid-reducing medications that you can acquire without a doctor’s note, such as Tums. Always consult a doctor before starting a new medication. (Source)
- Change up your diet. By removing fried, fatty, and other highly acidic foods from your diet, you can significantly lower your risk of acid reflux. A healthy diet high in fiber and lean proteins is best to combat your frequent heartburn. (Source)
- Increase your daily activity. There’s a correlation between obesity and acid reflux, so maintaining an active lifestyle is another excellent way to combat frequent acid reflux that can be triggered by coffee. (Source)
- Try low acid coffee grounds. I personally recommend Lifeboost Coffee Whole Medium Roast (available on Amazon). This fabulous coffee isn’t only great for those who struggle with acid reflux, but these grounds are also ethically sourced and organic.
- Opt for cold brew. The cold brewing process doesn’t allow the oil in the beans (Which contains most of the acid) to seep out into the drink. Therefore cold brew coffee is naturally up to 70% less acidic than other forms of coffee.
- Make some dark roast coffee. A dark roast tends to have a lower acidity level. Some of the chemicals that cause acid reflux are extracted during the dark roasting process, making this type of coffee easier on the stomach.
- Talk to your doctor. Obviously, the best way to get to the bottom of your coffee sensitivity and frequent heartburn is to consult a physician. A doctor will be better able to point you in the correct direction when combating acid overproduction.
- Stop drinking coffee. Sadly the best way to avoid coffee-related heartburn is to simply stop consuming the beverage.
So, as you can see, there are several ways that you can begin combating your sensitivity to coffee and frequent acid reflux.
Not everyone will experience increased acid production due to coffee consumption, but many people do.
So be sure to listen to your body and take action if you notice increased and regular heartburn after drinking a cup of coffee.
What effects can long-term acid reflux have on the body?
Sadly, acid reflux is a common problem for many, and some choose to push through the discomfort and heartburn to enjoy their favorite foods and drinks, such as coffee.
However, ignoring symptoms of acid reflux can cause a lot of harm to your body. (Source)
Long-term acid reflux can cause damage to the esophagus if left untreated. Frequent acid reflux can also be linked to narrowing the esophagus and esophageal cancers. Additionally, acid splashing up your esophagus causes damage to the tissue. Therefore it’s best to begin treatment immediately.
As you can see, it’s simply not worth ignoring frequent heartburn.
Moreover, esophageal cancer is no joke, and the discomfort that is experienced when the esophagus begins to narrow due to damage to the lining is also extremely uncomfortable (to say the least). (Source)
Therefore, if you are experiencing frequent heartburn or acid coming up your throat, it’s essential to consult a medical professional and do your best to cut out as much acid from your diet as possible.
If you’d still like to enjoy your daily cup of coffee, be sure to choose a blend that’s low in acid.
Coffee can cause you to experience symptoms of acid reflux. However, there are several strategies you can follow to still be able to enjoy a tasty cup of coffee each morning.
Ways to lower your acid consumption and still enjoy coffee include:
- Eating healthier
- Exercising regularly
- Brewing low acid coffee grounds
- Drinking cold brew instead
- Trying dark roast coffee
- Taking anti-acid medications
- Consulting a doctor
It’s important to note that increased acid production in the stomach can sometimes be due to a medical condition such as GERD and should be looked into by a doctor if your symptoms are frequent.