Have you ever enjoyed your favorite coffee drink, only to suffer a stomach ache afterward? Don’t worry, you aren’t alone.
It’s not uncommon to experience stomach discomfort after coffee intake. In fact, there are three main possibilities as to what may be causing this problem.
But there’s no need to fear! Most of the time stomach irritation can be avoided or minimized. So, you don’t need to stay away from coffee altogether or suffer in silence after your morning brew.
If you or someone you know has stomach issues due to coffee, read this short guide below to learn why coffee makes your stomach hurt.
Is drinking a cup of coffee the first thing you do after waking up? If so, that could be the reason you are experiencing stomach discomfort. Coffee is rich and complex, giving it the taste we know and love. These are the same reasons, however, that can potentially make it our foe.
Coffee consumption causes the stomach to produce acid. A lot of acid in the stomach with nothing else to absorb it can cause indigestion and heartburn. In extreme cases, habitual coffee intake on an empty stomach can even damage your stomach lining.
This is the most common reason why your stomach may hurt after drinking coffee. Thankfully, it’s also the easiest to solve!
Simply put, try to avoid drinking coffee on an empty stomach. If you aren’t the breakfast type, this can be a bit hard to get used to. You don’t have to have a big breakfast. Cereal with milk might do the trick. If this does little to help, try adding something with more substance such as a banana or some protein.
Our digestive system needs stomach acid. It is an integral part of the absorption and digestive process as it helps break down everything we consume. However, too much of a good thing can be a problem.
Acidity is measured on a scale from 0-14. Pure, unaltered water is neutral with a 7.0 pH. Anything lower than that is acidic and anything higher than that is alkaline. Coffee ranks in at 5.0 pH. (For comparison, orange juice is 3.0 pH). Of course, this number can vary slightly due to bean type, roast, or even elevation growth.
Fun fact: Coffee can contain up to 30 different types of acids, including acids that are found in citrus fruit and vinegar!
If you experience bloating, belching, or general discomfort after drinking coffee, acidity may be the cause. This is especially the case if you also notice a similar reaction after drinking other acidic drinks such as alcohol or fruit juices.
Acidic foods help produce more acid in the stomach. Sometimes this can irritate the stomach lining and cause mild indigestion. But this does not mean that you have to avoid your favorite beverage altogether. You just have to be careful. Here are some useful suggestions:
Warning: There can be some confusion when it comes to talking about “acidity.” Here we are talking about the quality of the bean. Conversely, when describing a coffee’s flavor, acidity refers to the flavor notes of the brew and not the coffee’s pH.
Caffeine, not coffee in and of itself, may actually be the culprit! Sounds confusing, doesn’t it? C8H10N4O2—commonly known as caffeine—is known to irritate the stomach. It forces your digestive system to work faster, thus producing a laxative effect.
Although caffeine insensitivity is mostly genetic, it can also be determined by age or gender. As you grow older you can become more sensitive to caffeine. With regard to gender, women tend to be more sensitive to caffeine than men. Also, pregnancy and oral contraceptive use tend to heighten this.
To counteract this effect there are several possible solutions:
If you have stomach discomfort after drinking coffee, the best thing to do is to consider these potential causes and experiment with the solutions. Try to determine whether the problem is an empty stomach, acidity, or caffeine.
The most important thing is to listen to what your body is trying to tell you and make little adjustments accordingly.
If you don’t have any current health issues and have tried all of these suggestions with no success, you may want to go see a doctor.