Around 60 million people in the United States deal with occasional heartburn, with about a quarter of those experiencing it daily. Knowing more about what causes heartburn and if certain foods exacerbate it can help you get relief. Read on to learn more about coffee, heartburn, and if there is a connection between the two.
What Is Coffee Heartburn
Heartburn is a symptom of different illnesses, such as GERD and acid reflux. It is characterized by an intense burning feeling in your chest and throat. Sufferers also experience the taste of acid and a burning sensation along their esophagus. It can last for a variable amount of time, depending on the case.
While heartburn can happen whether or not you drink coffee, many people experience this affliction. Coffee heartburn is when pains occur in the body as a result of drinking coffee. According to a meta-analysis, there are no studies conclusively proving that coffee and GERD are connected. So, coffee drinkers rely mostly on anecdotes and hypotheses.
If you get heartburn after drinking coffee, it may be from the caffeine relaxing the muscles in the esophagus. In turn, the relaxed muscles let stomach acid into the esophagus, leading to the sensation of heartburn.
Acidity Level in Coffee
One reason some coffee drinkers think their beverage of choice exacerbates heartburn is the acidity of coffee. Most varieties of coffee have a pH value of around 5. That means it is quite acidic since the acidic range of the pH scale is between 0 and 7. Water has a neutral pH of 7.
The acidity of coffee is due to the nine different acids the beans release during the brewing process. These acids include citric, chlorogenic, malic, phosphoric, linoleic, palmitic, acetic, quinic, and lactic.
All coffee does not have the same level of acidity, and a few variables can have an effect. Some of those factors include the way the beans roast, the brewing method, and the size of the coffee grounds. The most acidic coffee is generally a darker roast with a larger ground size brewed for a more prolonged period. Cold brew is often low on acid compared to other varieties.
Impact of Overconsumption of Coffee
Coffee offers many benefits when consumed in appropriate doses. It can increase alertness, energize drinkers, and provide antioxidant benefits.
Unfortunately, if you drink too much coffee, you may experience the negative side of caffeine. Aside from caffeine and acid reflux, the drink can contribute to jitters, sleep issues, anxiety, and other mood disturbances.
The increased anxiety and other mood disruptions arise from the same mechanism that keeps drinkers awake. Caffeine wakes you up by blocking adenosine receptors and releasing adrenaline. A small amount of those functions increases alertness. However, too much can lead to anxiety.
Sleep disorders, such as insomnia, can arise from drinking too much coffee or having it too late in the day. An excess of caffeine can make it take longer to fall asleep.
In some cases, caffeine can negatively impact certain illnesses. So, always talk to your doctor about the amount of coffee you consume.
Frequent coffee drinkers can also become dependent since caffeine is a drug. They find that if they take a break from their morning cup of joe or five, they can develop symptoms. For example, those dependent on caffeine may have headaches, exhaustion, nausea, muscle pain, focus issues, and moodiness.
The right amount varies from person to person. Some studies show more than 400 mg is too much caffeine for most people.
Tips To Avoid Coffee Heartburn
Here are some ways to reduce the amount of coffee heartburn you experience.
Trying Out New Brewing Methods
As mentioned, certain brewing methods yield coffee with more acid than other methods. The heat level, length of brewing time, and a few other factors can affect the acidity of the coffee.
Making hot coffee requires using water to extract flavor and chemicals, such as acids and caffeine from the grounds. You can apply the water to the coffee in a few ways, including with a French press, pour-over, coffee machine, or cold brew bottles.
According to a study, cold brew coffee has less acid compared to coffee brewed with hot water. The reason for this variation is that the hot brewing method extracts more acids from the coffee grounds than the cold method. That makes it easier on some people’s stomachs.
You can also try brewing your coffee for a shorter period or with less hot water. Switching up the way you brew your coffee can help. For example, using a method with a filter may make coffee less acidic.
Monitoring Caffeine Intake
Monitoring your caffeine intake is a good idea for your health, generally. Doing so is even more essential if you experience symptoms related to coffee heartburn. If you drink a lot of coffee daily, it can be difficult to cut yourself off entirely. Start by reducing the amount of coffee you drink, even by a cup.
According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, you should never have more than 400mg or four cups of coffee each day. The type of coffee you drink will also affect how caffeinated you get. So, switching to a lighter roast can help.
Before you reduce your caffeine intake, keep track of how much caffeine you drink daily and record any symptoms you experience. Continue to record your intake and symptoms after you reduce your intake and see if you experience a difference. If you have less heartburn when you have less coffee, the coffee may be contributing to your heartburn.
Managing Consumption of Inflammatories
Part of what contributes to digestive issues is inflammation. Simply, inflammation is your body’s immune response to an irritating chemical, such as an allergen, foreign object, or germ. Many foods contribute to inflammation, while others help combat the issue.
Coffee is not usually inflammatory, but consuming inflammatory foods can make it difficult to tell the source of your irritation. Common inflammatory foods include meat, sugars, alcohol, refined grains, cooking oils, trans fats, salt, and dairy.
Reduce the amount of inflammatory food you eat and pump up the number of anti-inflammatory foods you eat. Opt for plenty of fiber from whole grains, beans, fruits, and vegetables. Other anti-inflammatory foods include omega-3 fatty acids, berries, turmeric, cinnamon, ginger, nuts, and seeds.
Drink Low Acid Coffee
While there are measures you can take within mainstream types of coffee, you can also try varieties of coffee specifically made to be low in acid. This type of coffee offers less stomach discomfort.
To make this coffee, the manufacturers brew or treat the coffee to be closer to neutral. It has a pH of around six instead of the five pH of regular coffee. It offers benefits beyond stomach comfort, including more antioxidants and less wear on teeth.
There are plenty of brands of low-acid coffee. Some of those brands offer a lighter roast, while others provide additives to the coffee. Other brands use beans already lower in acids.
Several acid-reducing medicines are available if you want to prevent caffeine heartburn. They work in a few ways, including by inhibiting the proton pump (PPI) or blocking H2. You can also take an antacid.
Before taking any of these medications, you should be aware of any side effects. PPIs and H2 blockers can lead to headaches, diarrhea, and constipation. Taking too much can inhibit your ability to absorb minerals. They can also interact with certain other medications.
Always talk to your doctor before trying any medication. They can provide the proper dosing advice and point you in the right direction for a specific medication.
Should I Stop Drinking Coffee if It Gives Me Heartburn?
Once you determine that coffee is contributing to your heartburn, it is best to quit the beverage if possible. However, you can also take steps to consume less acidic types of coffee. For example, you could switch to cold brew or modify how you brew your coffee.
As mentioned earlier, if you decide to stop drinking coffee, you may need to wean yourself gradually. Start by having one less cup a day until you can comfortably go a day without coffee. You may experience some symptoms as you go.
Once you eliminate other sources of acid reflux, you may find that you can comfortably drink coffee. If you want a source of caffeine that is less likely to contribute to heartburn, consider green or black tea.
There are other sources of caffeine, such as soda and energy drinks. However, those beverages can also cause digestive problems that may lead to heartburn. The sugar and other ingredients may exacerbate your existing issues.
We hope you enjoyed this article. Keeping track of your coffee consumption can make a big difference in reducing your heartburn. Let us know about your experiences with coffee and heartburn in the comics, and share this article with your friends so they will know the benefits of being careful with coffee.