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The Truth About Coffee and Acid Reflux You Need to Know

The Truth About Coffee and Acid Reflux You Need to Know

Coffee is the most constant part of people’s everyday meal no matter what the age group is. Students tend to drink coffee to pull an all-nighter whereas professionals tend to have it to get better endurance throughout their piles of work.

The health benefits and energy-boosting effect offered by coffee is indeed a magical potion in your everyday life.

However, the only snitch for this amazing drink is that consumption beyond the safe limit triggers unwanted side effects.

Have you ever wondered how coffee is affecting your digestive system and if it’s beneficial in the long run?

Short answer: Coffee gives you reflux and stomach issues when a large quantity is consumed.

Acid reflux is a displeasing condition. Hence, if coffee is affecting it you need to know further details about the topic.

To continue your reading, go through the following sections.

Is Coffee Acidic?

a cup of hot coffee

Coffee is indeed acidic. Considering the pH scale, the beverage stands between 4.85 to 5.10.

The major acids found in coffee are:

  • Chlorogenic
  • Quinic
  • citric
  • Acetic
  • Lactic
  • Malic
  • Phosphoric
  • Linoleic
  • Palmitic

Acidic beans are one of the most desirable qualities for the best section of coffee. Many people may not be comfortable with the acidic content as it may give a burning sensation.

Here’s a list containing different varieties of drinks and their pH level. You can use a pH digital meter and find the pH on your own.

Types of FluidpH Level
Stomach acid1.00
Lemon juice2.00
Black coffee5.00
Iced coffee5.23
Black tea6.00
Distilled water7.00
Comparative analysis of acidic content in different liquids.

The pH level varies among flavors depending on the beans used, roasting method, and processing technique. Also, additives such as whole milk and cream affect the acidity of the drink.

Among the acids, chlorogenic acid is the main one and provides the drink with distinct antioxidant properties.

Apart from the acids, tannins and polyphenols are also present in the drink. All these components have acidic properties.

I elaborated more on this certain topic in my other article that you are free to check out if you’re interested.

When Does Acid Reflux Occur?

Acid reflux occurs when the sphincter muscle situated at the lower end of the esophagus relaxes abruptly. This relaxation of the muscle at the wrong time allows stomach acid to back up to the esophagus and causes heartburn and foul breath.

Constant acid reflux is a symptom of gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD).

Some of the common factors behind acid reflux are:

  • Medications
  • High blood pressure
  • Allergies
  • Pressure on the abdomen
  • Particular foods and drinks
  • Hiatal hernia

Acid reflux can occur suddenly at any time of the day. The symptoms are prominent at night since people tend to relax and lay down during this period allowing the stomach acids to move into the chest.

Check out this video for a better understanding of the connection between coffee and acid reflux.

Can Coffee Cure Acid Reflux?

Coffee doesn’t cure acid reflux.

Coffee is naturally acidic. No two cases of acid reflux are the same as people’s metabolism differ and also the quality of coffee drank varies.

Some people are receptive to acid content. The addition of acid in your body through coffee increases the risk of acid indigestion in your body. As a result, even a small portion of caffeine can induce the reflux effect in people having sensitive stomachs.

Coffee doesn’t need to worsen the acid reflux symptoms. Having proper meals and adequate fluids aid in getting rid of such reflux. However, having coffee on a poor diet exacerbates the trigger points of acid reflux faster and leads to unwanted side effects.

Why Does Coffee Give Me Acid Reflux?

Coffee is a common trigger for acid reflux and can worsen the symptoms. If you’re getting acid reflux from coffee consumption, it’s probably because you are ingesting too much of the stimulant.

However, the effect of coffee on acid reflux is relative depending on the person’s metabolism, caffeine content, and quality of the beans.

As per the recommendation of the US Food and Drug Administration, a healthy individual can have a safe limit of 400 milligrams of caffeine per day. Beyond this level, caffeine intake will exhibit adverse side effects such as:

  • Anxiety
  • Heartburn
  • Insomnia
  • Irregular heart pace
  • Histamine Reaction
  • Addiction
  • Nausea
  • GERD

Thus, when you’re ingesting too much caffeine with your coffee, you are bound to have caffeine-related symptoms such as acid reflux. People who are hypersensitive to caffeine may experience reflux within 100-200 milligrams of caffeine.

How Coffee Lovers Manage Acid Reflux?

four people toasting to four cups of coffee

Honestly speaking there isn’t any specific rulebook for acid indigestion. All you need to do is wait for the stomach to get stabilized and opt for a better nutrient intake.

The most important factor is that if you’re a habitual drinker of coffee, you need to identify the triggers to reduce acid reflux. if you don’t experience acid reflux or heartburn, then you’re okay with moderate consumption.

However, if you’re on multiple acid reflux attacks, try to curb your consumption and look for the potential doses of caffeine that caused it.

It’s not only caffeine that causes acid reflux. Irregular consumption of a balanced diet, lack of exercise, supplements, uncomfortable clothing, certain allergies, etc all contribute to the reflux effect. While suffering from other discomfort situations, coffee intake can aid in worsening the symptoms.

So if you want to drink coffee, have it as a complementary along with a healthy meal. Moderate your consumption and follow a healthy lifestyle habit including a good amount of sleep, and exercise.

To avoid chronic acid reflux or gastroesophageal reflux consult with a doctor for further suggestions.

Does Acid Reflux Cause Heartburn?

Yes, acid reflux can cause heartburn as a symptom of GERD. Similar to acid reflux, heartburn is also a common gastrointestinal symptom of drinking coffee and often acts together in the person.

Though the acidity of coffee is always reported as the main contributor to the factor, don’t forget that coffee contains several complex compounds.

The presence of compounds like chlorogenic acid, N-alkanoyl, hydroxytryptamine, etc makes the coffee composition mysterious. None of the coffee compounds affects your stomach individually. Even caffeine is reported to not affect the body system to a higher degree when taken alone in moderate amounts.

It’s somehow the unique blend of all the compounds that marks a trigger signal for stomach cells to start producing acid. This leads to gastric acid secretion and the muscle connected between the stomach and esophagus releases acids.

This in turn can cause both acid reflux and heartburn for the drinker.

Can I Drink Coffee If I Have Acid Reflux?

The good thing is that you don’t need to cut out the coffee completely from the diet if you have acid reflux. The best way to drink coffee without having side effects is to have the drink in moderate quantities.

First of all, try to take your coffee after having a proper meal. Drinking coffee on an empty stomach build up the secretion of lots of acids which you’re trying to avoid in the first place.

Secondly, choose the roast of coffee beans wisely. The darker the roast, the better is the coffee. Darker roast generally contains low acidic content and you can enjoy your drink without worrying.

Some important points while choosing and preparing coffees are:

  • Darker roast
  • Acid reducers in the drink
  • A bit of salt
  • Double fermented coffee

Cold-brew is a good choice in this regard. Also, decaf coffee processed with mountain water can serve you with low acidic content.

Hence, you can drink coffee even after having acid reflux. If you’re having reflux at the moment, don’t drink coffee immediately.

Give your body time to overcome the displeasing effects and take enough fluids to neutralize the acid in your stomach. Make sure to take necessary breaks between the consumption and don’t take it near bedtime.

Try to replace unhealthy nutrients in your diet with healthy acid-containing food. Healthy acids in your diet won’t trigger the stomach to release more than necessary acids. In many cases, coffee can reduce heartburn. But for that, a healthy diet is a must.

Is Decaf Coffee Bad For Acid Reflux?

Decaf coffee isn’t as bad as regular caffeinated coffee for acid reflux.

It’s necessarily not the healthier option since other acids and polyphenols in the beans might be responsible for the reflux but since the caffeine content is absent, it’s relatively better.

Decaf coffee contains 2-10 mg of caffeine compared to 95 mg of regular brewed coffee. The diminished quantity of caffeine doesn’t allow to aggravate the symptoms of digestive or stomach issues in the case of decaf coffee.

Moreover, this study on the Effect of decaffeination of coffee or tea on gastro-oesophageal reflux showed that the effects of GERD reflux become less pronounced in the case of decaf coffee varieties.

For the best low acidic decaf coffee, choose the one that has gone through the mountain water process.

What Should I Drink If I Have Acid Reflux?

Milk in clear glass with green leaves.
Having cold milk or yogurt can help you in relieving the effects of reflux.

Since coffee can exacerbate the symptoms of acid reflux, you can switch to a healthier drink to get the necessary fluid intake and relieve yourself from the reflux effect.

There are multiple choices so go for the one that suits you best:

  • Plain water
  • Coconut water
  • Smoothies
  • Herbal tea
  • Green tea
  • Cold milk
  • Fruit juices
  • Plant-based milk
  • Ginger tea
  • Yogurt

For the best outcome, keep yourself hydrated throughout the day and avoid drinking large quantities of any fluid in one sitting. Don’t drink fluids late at night and help your body in neutralizing the acids by drinking water immediately after getting up.

Is Tea Good For Acid Reflux?

Tea is comparatively better than coffee for acid reflux. However, all varieties of tea aren’t a better substitute for coffee.

After going through several reviews, I have rounded up some best teas that may help you with getting away with the condition.

These are:

  • Ginger tea
  • Chamomile tea
  • Fennel tea
  • Licorice tea
  • Peppermint tea
  • Marshmallow root tea
  • Turmeric tea

Most of these varieties do contain several antioxidants and anti-bacterial properties. The active ingredients in these teas can help in protecting the stomach lining and bring an overall balance in the digestive system.

Moreover, the anti-inflammatory properties of the ingredients will help in healing the acid reflux flare-ups and swelling of the digestive tract.

However, as stated earlier not all varieties are helpful. Green tea and black tea contains tannins and can encourage the stomach to secrete acid. Well, the effect isn’t as prominent as coffee and the moderate intake of these varieties rarely causes any trouble.

In Conclusion

Simply put, coffee indeed gives you reflux.

The next time you feel a sour sensation of the breath at the back of your throat after having coffee, you know what’s behind it.

Instead of reaching for supplements or probiotics, replace your diet with a healthy choice of tea or smoothie to get the necessary fluid. Don’t forget that too much coffee consumption will trigger several unwanted health concerns.

To protect your digestive and cardiovascular system, try to manage healthier fluid choices for your meals and don’t depend upon a caffeinated source too much.

You don’t need to curb coffee completely. Just drink the amount your body is comfortable with.

Acid reflux can be caused for several other attributing factors as well. So try to find the trigger points and adjust your caffeine intake accordingly.

By adopting healthier drinking habits, you can reduce the unpleasing reflux symptoms and improve the condition of the body.

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