Almost everyone in the world loves a nice cup of coffee first thing in the morning. Coffee is a must energy-booster for most of us who don’t agree with early mornings, while many drink it only to enjoy its delicious flavour.
This delightful beverage also provides some health benefits, such as reducing the risk of stroke, diabetes, and coronary heart disease, especially in women. Caffeine also helps boost cognitive performance and can aid in weight loss.
However, as much as drinking coffee (in optimal amounts) can be healthy, but it can also cause some undesired side effects for people. For instance, if you regularly feel bloated, coffee might be the main culprit.
Read on to find out if coffee causes bloating and what you can do to calm your bloated stomach.
Coffee is an acidic beverage, which means that it can actually improve your digestion by stimulating the production of hydrochloric acid in your gut. It can also diversify your gut bacteria, thus improving your overall health.
However, coffee can indeed lead to bloating, but only in some people. According to a study on the effects of coffee on gastrointestinal symptoms, only a small number of people who are sensitive to caffeine experience GI distress.
So, if you’re certain that drinking coffee is what’s causing your stomach to bloat, then you may be sensitive to caffeine.
If you take your coffee with cream or milk (cow’s milk, to be precise), that may also be the reason for your bloated stomach. You may be lactose-intolerant or lactose-sensitive, although the latter is more likely to be the potential reason for uncomfortable bloating.
The same goes for artificial sweeteners, such as sorbitol or aspartame. These and other artificial sweeteners can cause bloating because the body is slow to digest them.
Now, if coffee causes your stomach to bloat, you may experience constipation as well.
This, too, doesn’t happen to everyone who regularly drinks coffee, as the beverage usually stimulates bowel movements. But if you’re in the minority, you certainly know how painful and frustrating the problem can be.
Also, if you have IBS (irritable bowel syndrome), caffeine can only worsen the condition.
There are many ways to get rid of coffee bloat, and they are more straightforward than you may think.
The most important thing is to eat a lot of fresh, water-rich fruits (especially potassium-rich bananas, strawberries, and kiwis) and vegetables. They contain plenty of fibre that can improve digestion. Avoid cruciferous veggies, though, because they can worsen the bloating and even cause gas. Eat light meals that are smaller, sugar-free, and salt-free. Sodium causes the body to retain water, so it doesn’t help with bloating.
Avoid processed foods, as they contain lots of sugar, salt, and artificial sweeteners. While eating, make sure you chew slowly, so that the enzymes in your stomach have enough time to digest the food.
That’s especially important for calming a bloated stomach if you suffer from IBS. Don’t eat any starchy foods, as they contain carbs that your stomach may have trouble digesting.
Avoid alcohol, as it contains plenty of sugar, too, as well as carbs that can exacerbate bloating. Stay away from dairy products if your body doesn’t properly digest lactose and fizzy drinks for good measure.
The only fizzy beverage you should drink when bloated is mineral water. Not only does it contain nutrients, but it can also improve your digestion, according to one study on the effects of carbonated water on constipation.
Just make sure you avoid flavoured mineral waters, as they contain artificial sweeteners.
Black coffee is one of the most popular natural diuretics in the world. Most people need no more than a few sips to move things along and get rid of a bloated belly.
However, as we’ve already mentioned, coffee can cause bloating if you’re sensitive to caffeine. So, it doesn’t matter if it’s black, white, or any other type. It can still cause you stomach problems.
Black coffee can especially irritate your gut if you drink it on an empty stomach. It can reduce the acid your stomach will need for digestion later, which means that it can lead to abdominal pain, cramping, and bloating.
Always eat a healthy breakfast before getting your morning cuppa.
You may not want to hear this, but decaf coffee can lead to bloating as well.
How is that possible when it doesn’t contain caffeine? Well, caffeine isn’t the only natural stimulant that can irritate your gut and cause abdominal distress.
Even without caffeine, coffee is still acidic. It can still reduce your hydrochloric acid and lead to various digestive problems for several reasons we’ve discussed above.
So, if you thought that switching to decaf would solve your bloating issues, think again. It might only if you’re sensitive to caffeine and not to any other ingredient in coffee.
Unfortunately, bloating isn’t the only stomach problem that coffee can cause.
For a lot of people, it can also cause acid reflux, better known as heartburn. If you’ve ever experienced it, you know that it’s one of the most frustrating feelings in the world.
Why does it happen when drinking this delectable beverage? Because it relaxes the lower oesophagal sphincter, which is a muscular ring that opens and closes to let food into your stomach. When coffee relaxes that muscle, your stomach acid starts making its way to the oesophagus. Apart from being quite irritating, frequent heartburn can also lead to ulcers.
Coffee can also worsen the symptoms of IBS and other bowel disorders, such as Crohn’s disease. That’s because it may activate the immune response and increase inflammation in the body.
Many coffee creamers and beverages also contain an additive called carrageenan. It’s an extract from a red seaweed that people have been using in cooking for centuries.
However, according to a research paper on carrageenan, it can cause intestinal inflammation and complications with inflammatory bowel diseases such as Crohn’s or Ulcerative Colitis.
The International Agency for Research in Cancer has even classified it as a possible human carcinogen. So, just to stay on the safe side, it might be best to avoid coffee products that contain it.
This may surprise you, but coffee can indeed cause gas.
When you drink it on an empty stomach, and it reduces the hydrochloric acid, your stomach may have trouble breaking down protein.
All that undigested protein starts eating all the gut bacteria that produce hydrogen sulfide. The result is, well, a gassy stomach.
Milk and other dairy products can also cause gas. So, if you drink white coffee, milk may be the reason for your gas problems. Aspartame, sorbitol, and other artificial sweeteners can lead to gas as well. Again, that’s because your body can’t digest them very quickly.
If you want to avoid feeling gassy, you might want to steer clear from milk and all those sweeteners. That is if the coffee itself isn’t the main culprit.
Coffee can be great for a bloated stomach, but it really depends on the person. It affects everyone differently. It might be an excellent diuretic for you, while it may cause a long list of problems to someone else.
If you ever have trouble with a bloated stomach for any of the reasons above, caffeine might not be the best solution. It may make matters worse, causing painful cramps and constipation. Even if it doesn’t usually cause any issues with your gut, it might if you drink it when you already feel bloated.
You can undoubtedly try, but you should be ready for your body to tell you how it feels. You’ll instantly know whether coffee helps you calm your bloated belly or you should avoid it like the plague.
If the latter happens to be the case, take the steps we’ve discussed above regarding a healthy diet.
Just like coffee, tea can cause bloating as well, since it also contains caffeine. However, bloating from tea happens in rare cases that often include excessive tea drinking.
Still, if you’re caffeine-sensitive, your belly can bloat even after a few cups of tea. You may even start feeling gassy.
Luckily for most people, tea can actually help reduce bloating. Green tea and dandelion tea are often the best solutions.
Green tea can reduce inflammation in the body, without increasing gas, and you can drink 3-4 cups a day. Dandelion tea can help your body flush out excess water. One cuppa per day is enough to make you feel better.
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If you love drinking coffee, but it continually upsets your stomach, it may feel like the end of the world. But the good news is that bloating and other gut problems due to coffee are only temporary.
As you now know, there are many things you can do to calm your bloated belly and eliminate any pain or cramping you may be experiencing after drinking the beverage. Follow those tips, and you’ll start feeling better before you know it.
Do you want to find out more about other causes of bloating and the best ways to fight it? Download the free Beat the Bloat eBook today and learn how to take control of your gut health.
Are you interested in nutritional therapy to get your gut health back on track and feel like yourself again? Book your free call with an expert nutritionist in Manchester to get a personalised action plan that will take your health to the next level.