Feeling bloated lately? Your coffee consumption may be to blame.
Many studies have shown both positive and negative side effects of drinking that morning cuppa joe. However, coffee’s potential effects have largely been proven to depend on the person.
This article will discuss how coffee may be the root of your bloat and whether or not it’s cause for concern.
Coffee and Digestive Issues
Not only is coffee an energy-inducing drink, but it can also stir up the digestive system.
Studies have indicated that coffee is a gastrin stimulant, meaning it causes gastric juice to flow in your body. Gastrin is released in reaction to food, creating acid in the stomach.
Coffee’s naturally occurring acidity can upset the digestive tract, sometimes causing bloat. People with sensitive stomachs have a worse reaction to acidity.
Sensitive stomachs aren’t the only problem, however: those who drink coffee on an empty belly should also be wary. The acid can damage your stomach lining if no other food is consumed at the same time.
Despite its acidity, the research has not shown a strong enough correlation between drinking coffee and digestive issues.
No matter what, you should monitor your consumption and see how your body feels after drinking your morning brew.
8 Reasons Coffee Can Leave You Feeling Bloated
Coffee affects everyone differently and if you experience frequent bloating after drinking coffee, it’s a good idea to talk to your doctor.
Here are some of the main reasons why coffee can cause bloat.
Moves Your Bowels
Some studies have determined that coffee triggers the colon and increases rectosigmoid motility. Coffee spurs peristalsis, which are the contractions that carry food through the digestive system.
Drinking coffee can result in loose stools and sometimes diarrhea by escalating the number of contractions in the colon.
Research has shown that the laxative effect of coffee can happen just four minutes after consumption. So, if you’ve ever found yourself seeking a bathroom after drinking that java, this may be a reason why.
Though coffee may be a great help if you are constipated, it can also cause diarrhea. If the gastric emptying that coffee induces happens at the wrong time, diarrhea becomes more likely.
When acidic foods enter the small intestine too soon, it can end in inflammation.
While many have indicated that coffee makes them defecate, it is unclear whether it is the coffee or the caffeine. Either way, coffee’s laxative nature can unsettle the digestive tract, potentially leading to bloat.
You Add Milk to Your Coffee
According to experts, lactose intolerance affects about 65 percent of humans after infancy.
Lactose intolerant people can’t digest the milk sugar in dairy products. As you get older, your body slows down its production of lactase, which is an enzyme that breaks down lactose.
When people with lactose intolerance consume products containing lactose, they might experience nausea, abdominal pain, diarrhea, and even bloating.
If you struggle with digesting milk products, then you may want to re-think that half-and-half.
You can always opt for a dairy-free alternative if you determine lactose is the reason for your bloat. Almond, soy, and coconut creamer are all great substitutes.
If you’re still not sure, try monitoring what you put in your coffee so that you can decide if the culprit is, in fact, lactose.
You Drink Too Much
Too much of anything can have bad outcomes. The same is true with drinking coffee. If you drink too much, all the digestive effects of that caffeinated brew could be exacerbated.
You may consider switching to decaf, but be cautious: decaf may be just as bad. Studies have indicated that decaffeinated coffee causes even more acid to form in the gastrointestinal tract than caffeinated coffee.
It has also been known to have similar laxative effects as regular coffee.
If you’re worried about more than bloat, drinking too much coffee can have other negative consequences. A few of the other possible outcomes include heightened blood pressure, anxiety, and heartburn.
If you drink more than four cups of coffee a day, that may be the reason you feel bloated. It might be smart to cut back on your consumption to see if the bloat subsides.
Restricts Mineral Absorption
Coffee can make it more difficult for your kidneys to absorb certain minerals.
Some of these minerals include iron, magnesium, vitamin D, calcium, and zinc. When you consume caffeine and vitamins together, that decreases your kidney’s ability to retain those crucial vitamins.
One of the most important minerals that aids in digestion is magnesium.
Not absorbing this necessary vitamin because of coffee consumption is problematic. If you have a digestive disorder, you may be at high risk of being deficient in magnesium.
Calcium and iron are a few other minerals to be aware of while drinking coffee. Your body loses around 5mg of calcium for every 150mg of caffeine you consume.
Also, iron is crucial to your body’s function. When drinking caffeine along with a meal rich in iron, your body’s absorption rate can decrease by 80%.
In general, the loss of minerals in the body can result in many side effects. When your body doesn’t have the proper nutrients, it will react in adverse ways, one of which might include bloating.
By making sure you’re getting all the correct vitamins and minerals, you won’t have to worry as much about your coffee consumption.
Increases Stress Levels
Consumption of coffee increases stress hormones, including epinephrine (adrenaline) and cortisol. These hormones elevate blood pressure, triggering the body’s “fight or flight” instinct.
The sudden amplification of stress hormones can be detrimental to the digestion process. When these hormones are released, your body is working much harder to prepare for a potential threat.
Preparing for that threat, your body has less time to focus on digesting food.
Gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) is a crucial compound found in the intestines and brain, where it helps to regulate mood. Caffeine intrudes in GABA’s calming processes and can then cause anxiety and inhibit digestion.
With increased stress-causing so many reactions in your digestive system, there is more potential to become bloated.
However, it is important to consider all the factors before you conclude stress is the root of your bloating.
It has long been thought that coffee is a diuretic or a substance that makes you urinate excessively. However, recent studies have debunked this notion, saying that coffee is hydrating.
While drinking coffee does tend to make you urinate more, there is no danger of dehydration.
Even still, it can cause headaches and insomnia in some. Also, urinating more can lead to the loss of minerals that are vital to your body’s function.
Also, caffeine can pose risks to pregnant women, increasing the chances of miscarriage.
Though you shouldn’t worry about dehydration, coffee is still a liquid. Drinking too much may lead to fluid retention and therefore make you bloated.
Too Much Sugar
Adding too many sweeteners to your cup of coffee can cause more bloating. Whether it’s cane sugar, stevia, or Splenda, sweeteners regularly negatively affect the body.
Your body can’t break down many artificial sweeteners.
Gut bacteria thrive on sugars and ferments them, often causing more gas and bloating. Also, consumption of artificial sweeteners has been linked to increased body weight.
You may be wondering if natural sweeteners are any better. Research has pointed out that there is no significant difference between artificial and natural sweeteners. Unfortunately, agave, stevia, and monk fruit still increase the possibility that you’ll experience bloating.
With all this in mind, cutting down on sweeteners may be your best bet to stop the bloating.
You Have a Medical Condition
Certain medical conditions, like IBS, gastroparesis, peptic ulcers, and Crohn’s disease, have been known to cause bloating. Drinking coffee on top of having a medical condition can significantly increase the chances of bloating.
One of the most common symptoms after drinking coffee is heartburn, which is often associated with indigestion. Though they’re not the same thing, they can occur at the same time.
People with gastroesophageal reflux (GERD) may be more likely to experience bloating. Therefore, bloating may be heightened when drinking something acidic like coffee.
Coffee has been reported to cause both gastritis and peptic ulcers. Both conditions tend to cause bloating, so if you experience either of these, it’s advisable to cut down on the caffeine.
The bottom line: If you have a medical condition and are experiencing bloat, it’s probably a good idea to cut down on that coffee consumption.
What’s the Verdict?
The reasons you may be experiencing bloat after your cup (or four) of coffee, are varied.
It depends on what you add to it, whether you have any other medical conditions, and how much you consume.
In any case, you most likely don’t have to worry about coffee being the sole cause of your bloat. There are a variety of other conditions and foods that may be the main culprit.
However, if you do experience bloat after drinking coffee, it’s probably a good idea to assess how you feel. Before you sit down for your next cuppa joe, you may want to consult your doctor.
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