If you have digestive issues after drinking regular coffee there are some easy ways to make yourself gut-friendly coffee. We will try to explain why coffee is bad for your digestive system and how to make coffee that has no harm to your digestive health.
Why Coffe Is Bad For Your Gut Health?
Healthy coffee lovers report that the drink sometimes worsens acid reflux, heartburn, and stomach pain.
This occurs because coffee beans contain natural acids that become more concentrated as the beans are roasted and brewed. Your stomach can handle the acidity of coffee, but too much acid can cause problems, particularly once it leaks into your esophagus.
Coffee also loosens the lower esophageal sphincter (LES) muscles that separate your stomach from your esophagus. This can make stomach juices that contain hydrochloric acid splash up into your esophagus, which then results in acid reflux and heartburn symptoms.
Hydrochloric acid also causes chest pain, coughing, or a sore throat.
The beverage causes diarrhea since caffeine makes your digestive tract muscles contract and spasm. This pushes out the contents of your large intestine.
Coffee’s acidity can cause problems like flare-ups and symptoms like cramping and diarrhea in individuals with gut conditions like Crohn’s disease, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), or ulcerative colitis. If you have gastrointestinal (GI) conditions like IBS and Crohn’s, it’s better to avoid coffee altogether.
If you’re generally healthy and can’t bear the thought of abstaining from coffee, here are eight ways to make a gut-friendly cup of joe.
Drink Low-Acid Coffee
Coffee beans grown in areas with lower altitudes like Brazil, Peru, Sumatra, and Venezuela produce coffees that are naturally lower in acid. When buying coffee, check the label and look for beans marked “low acid.”
Another option is to brew beans with alkaline water to produce coffee with lower acidity.
Lower acid coffee is about pH levels—lower pH levels are more acidic and higher ones are more basic. Roasting coffee beans produces coffee that’s lower in acidity and cold brewing also imparts this effect because fewer compounds are imparted into the coffee when it is cold brewed.
Certain varieties of coffee are also naturally less acidic, which may be a result of being grown at a lower elevation or using particular drying methods. Lower acid coffee is available in a variety of flavors and roast options.
You can buy coffee with lower acid content online here.
Some people might enjoy the taste of coffee with a lower acid content, as it tends to be smoother and milder than coffee with higher acidity. Others would miss what connoisseurs describe as the “brightness” of a brew with its natural pH level intact. However, it’s not likely that it is the actual acid content in coffee that causes the stomach upset. Coffee has a lower acid content on average than, for instance, tomato juice and orange juice.
Drink Coffee Without Sugar And Artificial Sweeteners
Sugar feeds “bad” gut microbes. If you have dysbiosis, or not enough “good” microbes and too many bad bugs, sweetened coffee can aggravate your condition.
Artificial sweeteners like erythritol, mannitol, and xylitol can’t be digested. These sugar alcohols are fermented by gut bacteria, which produce gases that distend the intestines and draw water in. This then results in symptoms like bloating or stomach pain.
Related: Bloated Stomach Remedies That Work
Start slow and decrease the amount of sugar you add, until you can bear drinking coffee with only a bit of sugar.
Drink Cold Brew Coffee
Cold-brewed coffee is usually 65 percent less acidic than regular hot-brewed coffee.
Cold brewing extracts less acid and bitter compounds from the beans, making the final product easier to tolerate. If you prefer hot coffee, reheat cold-brewed coffee in a small pot.
Follow the steps below to make cold-brewed coffee:
- Mix low-acid, coarsely ground coffee beans with cold or room-temperature water in a glass jar. Cover, then mix well.
- Let the mixture steep in the fridge for about 12 hours or up to 48 hours. Shake the container several times as the mixture steeps to make sure it’s combined.
- Since you’re using cold water, this method requires a longer processing time to extract the flavors from the beans.
- After you’re done steeping, filter the coffee using a cheesecloth or paper filter.
- The filtered liquid is concentrated coffee, so mix it with additional hot water, milk, or non-dairy milk alternative. Cold-brewed coffee can be stored in the fridge for about two weeks.
Drink Half-Decaf Coffee
Coffee contains ingredients that can cause digestive irritation, such as caffeine.
Caffeine increases the production of stomach acid, and while this is essential for improved digestion, it can have adverse effects on those with loose LES muscles. Switch to decaf coffee and see if you can tolerate it.
Related: How Decaf Coffee Is Made
Add Eggshells To Coffee Grounds
Bases neutralize acids. Eggshells are made of calcium carbonate that is basic or alkaline.
Eggshells added to ground coffee helps absorb and neutralize the acids and other bitter compounds that can cause stomach irritation. Use shells from an organic egg.
Break an egg and wash the shell thoroughly. Let the eggshells dry, then break it into smaller pieces.
Mix the shells with ground coffee in a coffeemaker or French press. Use one eggshell for every four cups of coffee.
Replace Milk With Non-Dairy Alternatives
If the coffee itself isn’t causing gut problems, it’s probably the dairy. If you have lactose intolerance, use lactose-free or plant-based milk.
However, if you have a dairy allergy, use dairy alternatives like almond, cashew, flax, or rice milk instead. Drinking dairy-free coffee means you’re using alternatives that may contain gums.
Gums help keep the liquid emulsified, so it doesn’t separate. While gums are natural food fiber components, they can be fermented by gut bacteria and cause digestive issues in some people. To avoid this, choose nut milk that doesn’t contain gums and sweeteners.
Drink Coffee With Hydrolyzed Collagen
Hydrolyzed collagen (collagen peptides) contains amino acids like glutamine and glycine. These amino acids strengthen your immune system, helps in detoxification, and repairs the gut lining.
Hydrolyzed collagen powder can be dissolved in hot or cold fluids. Add at least a heaping tablespoon of unflavored collagen peptides for every eight ounces of coffee.
Drink Chicory Coffee Instead
If your stomach is too sensitive for the other alternatives detailed above, drink chicory coffee instead.
Chicory root contains inulin. This prebiotic fiber feeds bacteria in your gut. If you have a healthy microbiome, the fiber in chicory can help “fertilize” your gut and promote bacterial diversity.
But if you’re experiencing bloating, burping, constipation, diarrhea, gas or stomach pain, chicory can aggravate your symptoms as it feeds the wrong bugs. Consult a digestive health dietitian to determine other food and beverage options.
Does Caffeine Content Matter?
What many coffee drinkers enjoy about coffee is not a secret: it’s the caffeine content. It puts the get-up-and-go in the morning, and for some, in the afternoon too.
However, most studies show that caffeine doesn’t seem to be an issue when considering coffee’s effects on the stomach. Some studies that looked at various coffee blends and their effect on stomach acid production used coffees that were similar in caffeine content to even the playing field. It’s thought that the bioactive compounds found in coffee that increase or decrease digestive juices in the stomach may interact with each other no matter how much caffeine is in the coffee.
Individual Effects: How Do You Factor In?
Another piece of the puzzle is how the person reacts to the compounds and the caffeine content in coffee. While broad recommendations can be made from scientific studies, especially ones that include larger numbers of people, there are genetic variations that may influence how any one person reacts to the compounds in coffee.
There’s a limit to this variation, so it might not be important for most people, but this does mean that there could be some trial and error involved. The coffee that one person swears by and can drink without having heartburn may not work the same way for everyone. This means that trying different brands may be a part of finding a coffee that is easier to digest.
3 Tips for Brewing Coffee That Won’t Cause Stomach Irritation
Based on the research available, in short, here’s what may help.
- Go for a dark roast. It might seem that the darker the coffee, the more stomach symptoms it might bring on, but the opposite is true. Roasting coffee brings out the best in a natural compound that suppresses the production of stomach acid.
- Use a cold brewing method. Cold-brew is going to result in a coffee that has lower levels of all the compounds found in coffee. This means that the parts of coffee that cause an increase in stomach acid are going to be lower.
- Add milk. Of course, this is not an option for those allergic to dairy or who are avoiding it because of lactose intolerance (another cause of stomach upset), but it could help those who don’t have issues with dairy. Milk proteins combine with some of the compounds in coffee that tend to increase stomach acid.
Conclusion: Use one of these methods to make yourself coffee that is gut-friendly. As you see from all written above you can enjoy your cup of gut-friendly coffee every morning without any digestive side effects.