Why Does Coffee Upset My Stomach?

Last Updated on November 13, 2020 by James Matthews

Many of us can’t start their day without a hot cup of coffee. In some cases, this cup of coffee can cause your stomach to ache all day long. Quite an annoying scenario, huh? 

We’ll help you understand why coffee does that so that you can enjoy your morning-coffee while having a happy tummy! 

Is It Me or the Coffee? 

There are a couple of factors that might cause the coffee to upset your stomach. You might be dealing with one or many of them. 

We listed these factors below so you can know when to blame yourself and when to blame coffee! 

Interaction with Pre Existing Digestive Disorders 

The increasing consumption of coffee highlighted its negative effects. Coffee can cause some serious complications to other digestive disorders. Note that coffee doesn’t cause these disorders; it makes them much worse. 

Examples of disorders affected by coffee are irritable bowel syndrome, gastroesophageal reflux disease, and peptic ulcer disease. 

90% of IBS patients suffer from stomach pain after drinking coffee. GERD patients also suffer from acid refluxes and cramping stomachs when they consume coffee. 

Drinking Coffee on an Empty Stomach 

Probably you’re like me, you drink coffee first thing in the morning. I have bad news for you. Coffee is full of acids and it stimulates metabolism, which produces more acids! 

Having a stomach full of acid and no food to react with will definitely upset your stomach. 

The harms don’t stop there, as drinking coffee before breakfast can raise your stress hormone level and cause heartburns. 

To avoid that, you can postpone your coffee until you have breakfast. If you really don’t wanna have breakfast, you can drink a cup of water with a squeeze of lemon in it and it’ll work wonders. 

You’re Sensitive to Caffeine

Coffee Stomach

This is the case with most people. Caffeine is known for stimulating the digestive system because it’s a promotility agent. This means that your digestive system doesn’t like to keep caffeine inside for a long period, and as soon as you drink coffee, your stomach muscles start to shrink, causing an unpleasant feeling, and sometimes diarrhea. 

In some cases, caffeine can do the opposite. It can actually slow the movement of the lower gut. In both cases, it’ll cause an upset stomach. 

How to Know If You’re Caffeine-Sensitive 

If you suffer from the following symptoms after consuming a high dose of caffeine, you probably are caffeine-sensitive. 

  • Nausea 
  • Upset stomach 
  • Anxiety 

If that’s the case, you might try darker roasts of coffee because they have less caffeine. You can even go for decaf coffee. Don’t worry, it’s still delicious. 

It’s the Acids 

Coffee Stomach

As we established before, coffee itself is rich in acids and it contains chlorogenic acid that increases your stomach’s acid production. Too much acid can cause heartburns, belching, and discomfort. Even though acid sensitivity is a very rare case, it’s still worth paying attention to. 

To make sure that you’re acid-sensitive, see if you suffer from the same symptoms when you eat acidic foods, such as red meat, dairy, nuts, and grains. 

It’s not the caffeine only that can give you diarrhea, but also the coffee’s acids. It can hurt your stomach lining, cause heartburns, and cramp your stomach. Decaffeinated coffee also contains the same amount of acid, so you might try low-acidity coffee. This coffee is grown at high altitudes and that significantly reduces the amount of acid it contains. 

Or the Coffee Additives 

Coffee Stomach

Guess what? It might not be the coffee itself that upsets your stomach after all. It might be what you add to the coffee, like sugar, milk, cream, or other artificial sweeteners. For example, a lot of people are lactose intolerant, which means they can’t digest the sugar inside milk and other dairies properly. 

Sorbitol and Fructose are two commonly used sweeteners that can cause cramping or diarrhea. Even consuming a big amount of table sugar can cause digestive issues. 

If you use coffee creamers, you should know that they contain sodium caseinate. Some people are casein intolerant. Casein intolerance shows similar symptoms to lactose intolerance. 

Enjoy Your Coffee Pain-Free 

Coffee Stomach

Here are some tips and alternatives that you can try so you can enjoy coffee with no upset stomach. 

Don’t Drink Coffee on an Empty Stomach 

Drinking coffee alongside food significantly eases its digestion. 

Try Decaf Coffee 

What is coffee without caffeine? You might ask. It still has 100% the flavor of normal coffee, easier to digest, and healthier. That doesn’t mean that caffeine itself is bad, but big amounts can be lethal! 

Get a Darker Roast of Coffee 

Darker roasts contain less acid than light roasts because roasting the beans for a longer period of time and under more heat tends to reduce the acidity of the beans by 60%. 

Give Cold-Brewed Coffee a Try 

Cold-brewed coffee is not like the name indicates a “cold coffee”. It can be enjoyed hot or cold. Coldwater keeps most of the caffeine and acids inside the coffee beans reducing their amounts by 70%. Cold-brew is a go-to if acid or caffeine upsets your stomach. 

Cold-brewed coffee is easy to make. You just add coffee beans to cold water and let it rinse for 12 hours. 

Try Larger Coffee Beans 

Small coffee beans extract more acid when boiled, while larger beans keep more inside. If acid upsets your stomach, you can try larger grounds of coffee. 

To Conclude 

Coffee Stomach

All said we can see that coffee is a potent drink. It can have some strong effects on all of us, even if we don’t suffer from any of the conditions mentioned before. So, if a cup of coffee makes you pay a visit to the bathroom from time to another, it can be totally normal.  

Your stomach still can’t make friends with coffee? Maybe it’s time for a change. Try lighter drinks that can still give you a nice boost, such as tea and cappuccino.