Wondering why coffee upsets your stomach?
We'll tell you some possible reasons.
You'll also learn how to avoid coffee-induced indigestion.
Let's get started.
Reasons Why Coffee Upsets Your Stomach
Coffee is good for you if you drink it in moderation. It can boost energy and improve mood.
But while there are significant arguments in favor of drinking coffee, the beverage also has side effects.
Let's take a look at the reasons coffee can upset your stomach, and what effect coffee has on the body.
Coffee contains chlorogenic, phosphoric, acetic, malic, and citric acids which is considered acidic. These are responsible for the taste of the drink.
Chlorogenic acid irritates the stomach lining. It stimulates the production of hydrochloric acid, which can have a negative effect on the stomach.
That is why it is not recommended to drink coffee on an empty stomach. The hydrochloric acid has nothing to dissolve, so it begins to interact with the walls of the stomach instead.
Heartburn or other unpleasant symptoms may result.
The caffeine in coffee has an invigorating effect on the human body.
The recommended upper limit of caffeine consumption per day for a healthy adult is 400 mg. You get that amount by drinking 4 cups of coffee, 10 cans of cola, or two "energy shot" drinks.
Caffeine stimulates movement of the colon at a rate 60% stronger than water.
Excessive caffeine use affects not only the stomach and gastrointestinal tract but also the entire body.
Excess caffeine consumption can cause headaches, insomnia, rapid heart rate, nervousness, irritability, and muscle tremors.
If you experience these side effects, reduce the amount of coffee you consume, and also look for other sources of caffeine in your diet that can be reduced.
Ingredients you add to coffee can also upset your stomach.
Milk, cream, and sugar can cause digestion problems.
Nearly 65% of people are lactose intolerant and can experience symptoms including stomach cramps, bloating, and diarrhea after consuming dairy.
Too much coffee
For most adults, coffee consumption will not be associated with any of the stomach symptoms listed above.
But problems can begin if you drink too much coffee.
You may experience the following: nausea or gastrointestinal upset accompanied by severe stomach cramps.
You may also feel flushed or jittery, have heart palpitations or have a more frequent urge to urinate.
Not everyone can drink the daily recommended amount of coffee because coffee affects everyone differently.
Some people might be able to drink 4 cups of coffee with no issues, while others might feel bad after the second cup.
And this idea can even apply to the same person.
For example, you might not be able to drink as much coffee after a strenuous workout as you drink normally.
Observe how you feel after drinking coffee. This will help you establish your norm.
How to Avoid an Upset Stomach from Coffee
If you are faced with side effects from coffee but don't want to give up your favorite drink, we have a solution for you.
Let's take a look at some of the ways you can reduce the effects of coffee on your stomach.
Try cold brew coffee
Cold brew is prepared with cold—even icy—water rather than with hot water.
It infuses for 8–24 hours and then is filtered and is stored in the refrigerator.
The result is a concentrated beverage with a rich coffee flavor and a high caffeine content.
Due to the long extraction time, cold brew contains slightly fewer acids than regular coffee. Research confirms this.
Choose a larger grind size
A study was conducted to determine the effect of grind size on the extraction of acids from coffee during brewing.
The results showed that a finer grind could extract more acids than a coarse grind.
Try low-acid coffee beans
Low-acid coffee beans can be naturally low in acids or specially processed.
Coffee that is grown at low altitudes has lower acidity.
Brazilian, Mexican, Peruvian, Venezuelan, Guatemalan, Sumatran, and Indonesian coffee can all have lower acidity.
Special processing of the beans to lower the acidity level involves certain roasting techniques.
Try decaf coffee
Switching to decaffeinated coffee can help with indigestion, but only if caffeine is the cause of the indigestion.
Stomach issues caused by acids won't be solved by decaf coffee because decaf coffee still contains acids just like regular coffee does.
Related Reading: Best Decaf Coffee Beans
Choose dark-roast coffee beans
Studies have shown that coffee with less chlorogenic acid and more N-methylpyridinium (N-MP) cause the stomach to produce less hydrochloric acid.
One way to achieve those characteristics is by roasting. The darker the roast, the fewer acids remain in the coffee.
Dark-roasted coffee contains more N-MP and less chlorogenic acid, so it could be a solution for acid-based indigestion.
Related Reading: Best Dark Roast Coffee Beans
If you have an upset stomach or other gastrointestinal symptoms after drinking coffee, you should establish the case.
Problems can be caused by the amount of coffee you drink, by the acids or caffeine the coffee contains, or by added ingredients like milk and sugar.
Once you've figured out the cause of your symptoms, there are steps you can take to resolve the problem while still being able to enjoy your coffee.