Have you ever woken up and your stomach is as flat, you’re feeling great and on top of the world… you then make yourself your first cup of coffee for the morning, have a sip and suddenly felt bloated, or instantly running to the toilet?
Hmmm coffee… Coffee is well known to be acidic. It stimulates the stomach acid in your body, which can act as an irritant, particularly if you’re someone who suffers from conditions such as IBS or bacteria overgrowths. And with a sensitive digestive system it provokes inflammation, bloating, and sudden diarrhoea. In fact there is are many more reasons as to why coffee may just not be the one for you…
1. Higher Stomach Acidity
Drink a lot of coffee first thing in the morning on a regular basis, and gut problems may be right around the corner. It’s not just the caffeine that does this, so drinking decaf won’t avoid the danger. Caffeine and other plant-based compounds stimulate the stomach cells to release more hydrochloric acid, which can, at times, aid digestion. But regular coffee drinking, especially in the morning on an empty stomach, reduces the amount of stomach acid available for digestion later on. H. pylori bacteria, the main bacteria responsible for ulcers, prefers highly acidic environments. Combine this with the way coffee weakens the protective barrier of the stomach – the mucosal layer – and the risk of damage and ulcers increases.
2. Encourages Acid Reflux
Drink enough coffee and you may experience acid reflux or heartburn. Coffee relaxes the esophageal sphincter — the gatekeeping muscle valve that allows food into the stomach and makes sure it stays there. Stomach acid that escapes irritates the tissue of the esophagus. If it happens frequently enough, complications like sores, ulcers, or permanent changes to cells in the esophagus can occur.
3. Aggravates IBS and Other Bowel Disorders
Coffee intensifies symptoms of bowel conditions like gastritis, irritable bowel disorder, colitis, and Crohn’s Disease. Certain enzymes in coffee trigger an immune response that results in inflammation, bloating, cramping, gas, and diarrhea.
4. Raises the Chance of Food Rotting in the Gut
Coffee’s known to encourage the stomach to release its contents into the small intestine before complete digestion has occurred. Food that doesn’t get fully digested often ends up sitting and rotting in the gut. This creates a toxic environment ideal for ‘bad’ bacteria to spread in the intestines, damages the intestinal wall, and leads to inflammation and an immune response to enzymes in the coffee.
5. Over Stimulates Intestinal Wave Action
Nerve and brain cells rely on a neurochemical called GABA. It’s responsible for calming the nerves after they fire. The caffeine in coffee prevents GABA from doing its job and this may lead to overactive bowels. The most common symptom is cramping or an urge to go to the bathroom.
One Final Thought
While it doesn’t directly harm the bowels, coffee does reduce the retention and absorption of minerals like magnesium, calcium, zinc, and iron. Here’s a basic rundown on these nutrients:
- Magnesium keeps the muscles relaxed and firing correctly.
- Calcium is needed for strong bones and getting cells the nutrients they need.
- Zinc fuels the immune system.
- Iron’s essential for creating new red blood cells.
And you should not drink coffee if you have gallstones. Coffee doesn’t cause gallstones, but it does cause the gallbladder to contract, creating a very painful situation. When it comes to coffee, the best way to know if harm’s being done is to notice how you feel. If it has a severe laxative effect or causes cramping or acid reflux, you may want to take some time off. Studies have shown the damage and irritation quickly heals once coffee consumption stops.