Have you ever experienced uncomfortable bloating after enjoying your cup of coffee in the morning? If you have, you are certainly not alone. On its own, however, coffee is not the reason for the bloating. So what’s causing it?
While this acidic beverage can be one factor leading to discomfort, there are several others that can cause bloating after enjoying a fresh “cup of joe.” Some of the things to take into consideration are additives used to flavor your coffee, the amount of coffee being consumed in one day, characteristics of the coffee you are drinking, and different underlying issues you may have.
Coffee Doesn’t Cause Bloating
Contrary to popular belief, coffee does not cause bloating in most people. In fact, only a small percentage of people are negatively affected by this beverage and experience gut discomfort. Due to its acidic nature, coffee is believed to be beneficial for digestion.
Not only does coffee help generate the production of hydrochloric acid in your digestive system, but it also introduces other types of healthy bacteria to the GI tract. This aids in your overall health and well-being.
Maybe it’s the Additives
With only 35% of coffee drinkers preferring their brew to be black without any additional ingredients, most of the population are stirring in some extra sweetness or flavor. These extras, however, could be the source of your bloat.
What do you put in your morning coffee? Milk? Cream? Whether you add these ingredients to introduce more flavor, balance out the level of acidity, or to cool down the beverage, it is estimated that 65% of coffee drinkers add something to their cup of coffee.
These ingredients, in fact, can be the cause of your tummy troubles. A significant percentage of people, reportedly 68%, have some form of lactose intolerance. You could have some level of intolerance and not realize it, and this could be the underlying cause of your uncomfortable bloating.
Do you use artificial sweeteners or dairy-free creamers in your coffee? Putting those ingredients, especially if they contain sorbitol and aspartame, can lead to stomach bloating, excessive gas, and even diarrhea. If you are like a large chunk of the population who doesn’t like black coffee, these additives could be causing your morning bloat.
How Much Coffee Do You Drink?
The FDA suggests that adults shouldn’t consume more than 400 ml (about 13.53 oz) each day. If you are consuming more than the recommended amount, this can result in the over-production of cortisol in the body. Cortisol, which helps control your metabolism, causes digestive issues if there are elevated levels in the body. Some of these issues include bloating, excessive gas, and pain.
Even with the FDA recommendation, each person’s caffeine tolerance is different. Your body may only tolerate 8 oz (about 236 ml) a day. If you notice stomach pain and bloating after drinking coffee, try lowering the quantity to see if that alleviates your symptoms.
Coffee, whether regular or decaf, is a naturally acidic beverage. Depending on where the coffee was grown, how it was processed, and what variety it is, some coffees are prone to being more acidic than others. If you are experiencing bloating and discomfort after drinking coffee, it could be related to how acidic that brew is.
Our stomachs already contain acid. When we add more to the system, the gut can become irritated and bloated. Additional acid also jumpstarts the digestive system, which causes more acid to be produced and results in frequent bathroom visits.
If you think that the acidic nature of your coffee could be affecting your stomach, there are many low-acid coffees to choose from. Some of the most popular varieties include:
- Dark roasts
- Cold Brew
Underlying Medical Conditions
Sometimes there can be other health-related things going on with our bodies that cause bloating to occur when we drink coffee. If you are experiencing bloating after drinking this beverage, it’s best to make sure you do not have any of these issues going on.
Irritable bowel syndrome
Irritable bowel syndrome, commonly shortened to IBS, is a disorder that affects the digestive system. Symptoms of this disorder include bloating, gas, stomach pain, and diarrhea. These symptoms can be triggered by ingesting certain foods. Unfortunately, milk, caffeine, and artificial sweeteners have all been shown to trigger these symptoms.
If you are dehydrated, there’s a good chance you will experience bloating. So, if you start drinking coffee and you become bloated, it could be because you were dehydrated and have nothing to do with the coffee at all. To combat this, make sure to drink plenty of water in between cups of coffee.
Getting Rid of the Bloat
There are many things you can try to get rid of bloat that happens when drinking coffee. If you have ruled out that you are not one of the few people with caffeine sensitivity, you can try several different things.
For starters, stop using lactose products and artificial sweeteners. If you don’t like black coffee, try almond or oat milk. Natural sweeteners, like honey, dates, stevia, and vanilla all make great flavor additions to coffee. Also, try enjoying coffee in smaller amounts. View coffee as something to savor. Instead of guzzling down cup after cup, try sipping on one cup and making it last for a while.
If you have any underlying medical issues, make sure that there are no food or beverages options that will cause side effects like bloating. Also remember to stay hydrated. Drinking lots of water in between cups of coffee can help keep your body replenished. If the type of coffee you drink is highly acidic, try a low-acid blend instead. Dark roasts, espresso, and cold brews all tend to have a lower amount of acidity.
Thankfully, it’s not necessary to give up on this magical beverage if you are experiencing bloating or discomfort after enjoying some coffee. You might just need to assess your coffee habits and make some slight changes in how you enjoy your fresh brew each morning.