Coffee is among the most popular beverages globally, enjoyed by millions daily. Nevertheless, for some people, drinking coffee has uncomfortable digestive issues like bloating and gas.
While coffee may not be the only reason you’d experience these symptoms, it’s a trigger for most individuals. This article explores whether coffee causes bloating and how to alleviate the symptoms when they occur.
Reasons Coffee Causes Gas
For most people who experience gas and bloating after consuming coffee, it’s not the coffee that causes issues. There are higher chances that coffee will cure gas than cause it. Coffee contains caffeine which stimulates the digestive system to start moving.
That said, some people experience gas and bloating after drinking coffee, which could be because of compounds in the coffee that cause these symptoms. Let’s look at some of the reasons you might experience bloating after drinking coffee:
1. The Coffee Has Milk
There are various reasons adding milk to coffee can cause bloating. Lactose intolerance is among the primary reasons people experience bloating and gas after drinking milk. When your body is lactose intolerant, it doesn’t produce adequate lactase, the enzyme needed to digest lactose.
When lactose, the primary sugar in milk, isn’t well digested, it ferments in the stomach and produces gas which causes bloating and other symptoms like nausea, abdominal pain, and diarrhoea.
Since milk is a high-fat food, consuming too much of it slows down digestion which can cause bloating. Moreover, fat in milk can stimulate acid production, which can cause bloating.
Adding milk to your coffee also increases its volume, contributing to bloating. When your stomach is overly full, it puts pressure on nearby organs resulting in discomfort. Caffeine can also increase stomach acid production, resulting in bloating.
2. Artificial Sweeteners
People usually use artificial sweeteners in their coffee as a low-calorie alternative to sugar. Even though they help reduce calorie content, they can sometimes contribute to gas and bloating because your body may not absorb them fully.
When these sweeteners aren’t fully absorbed, bacteria in the gut start fermenting them, resulting in discomfort and bloating.
Artificial sweeteners like xylitol and sorbitol are prone to causing bloating and gas as they aren’t absorbed well in the small intestine and pass to the large intestines while intact, and bacteria start fermenting them.
Some individuals are more sensitive to artificial sweeteners than others and may experience symptoms such as bloating and diarrhoea when they consume even trace amounts.
3. Contamination By Mould
Mould is a fungus that grows on coffee beans and other food items when stored in humid conditions. When you store coffee beans in humid and warm conditions, they can be contaminated with mould spores, producing toxic mycotoxins.
Mycotoxins can cause various symptoms like gas and bloating. The mycotoxin commonly associated with coffee is OTA (Ochratoxin A), which affects the digestive tract by altering the gut microbiota’s function and composition.
Studies show that exposure to OTA causes gut microflora changes, contributing to bloating and increased gas production. OTA disrupts the balance of beneficial bacteria in the gut and promotes the growth of harmful bacteria, resulting in overgrowth, which causes bloating.
Further, OTA damages the intestinal lining, leading to irritation and inflammation, contributing to bloating and gas development.
4. Compounds In Coffee
Coffee has various compounds that can contribute to gas and bloating development. Coffee has chlorogenic acids that stimulate stomach acid production, which can cause increased gas production.
These compounds can also increase digestive muscle contractions resulting in gas and bloating. Coffee also has N-acyl HTs, compounds formed during coffee bean roasting, that increase muscle contraction in the digestive tract leading to bloating and increased gas production.
Caffeine can also contribute to increased gas production since it speeds up food movement in the digestive tract.
How to Tell Whether Coffee is Causing Your Gas
Here are some ways you can determine if coffee is causing you digestive discomfort:
- Keep a food and symptom diary: Tracking everything you drink and eat and the symptoms you experience will help you identify potential triggers and patterns.
- Eliminate coffee from your diet: Avoid drinking coffee for a week or two and see if your symptoms improve.
- Reintroduce coffee: After eliminating coffee from your diet, reintroduce it and track your symptoms. If you experience bloating, coffee might be the reason.
- Experiment with different coffee preparation techniques: Try experimenting with varying types of coffee, such as espresso or cold brews, as they’re easier on the stomach than regular coffee.
- Avoid dairy for a few days: Avoid any dairy in your breakfast for a few days to see if your symptoms will go away.
- Talk to your physician: If you experience persistent gas and bloating, talk to a physician, as they can help identify the source of the problem.
How To Alleviate Gas Symptoms Caused By Coffee
If you experience bloating and gas after drinking coffee, you don’t have to eliminate it from your diet. Moderate coffee consumption provides essential anti-oxidants that help minimise the risks of developing certain cancers.
Due to these benefits, it’s better to find a way to enjoy coffee without experiencing bloating or gas. Here are some ways you can do this:
1. Opt For Lighter Roasts
Dark roasts are more acidic than light ones, thus irritating the stomach lining and causing bloating. Lighter roasts also have lower levels of compounds that stimulate gas production, such as chlorogenic compounds.
Lighter roasts are less oily than dark roasts and, thus, are easier to digest because oils can slow digestion, resulting in gas and bloating.
2. Try Cold Brew Coffee
Cold brew coffee is less acidic than hot coffee as the cold brewing process extracts fewer acids resulting in a smoother flavour. This reduced acidity helps reduce irritation to the digestive tract, which minimises bloating risks.
Cold brew coffee also has lower levels of compounds that cause gas production and is easier to digest because it’s less oily.
3. Try Decaffeinated Coffee
If coffee’s caffeine causes you to bloat, try drinking decaf coffee. Caffeine stimulates stomach acid production that can irritate the digestive tract leading to gas and bloating. Decaf coffee has less caffeine than regular coffee and thus may help reduce the risk of developing gas or bloating.
Decaf coffee is also less acidic than normal coffee; thus, drinking it reduces the risks of developing gas or bloating.
4. Don’t Drink Coffee On An Empty Stomach
Drinking coffee on an empty stomach increases stomach acid production, which irritates the digestive system’s lining resulting in discomfort and bloating. When you drink coffee on an empty stomach, no food can help buffer the acid, exacerbating bloating symptoms.
5. Change The Milk You Use
If lactose intolerant, try switching to lactose-free alternatives like soy and almond milk. Since whole milk has a high-fat content that results in bloating, try switching to low-fat options such as skim or almond milk to help reduce the chances of developing these symptoms.
If you’re sensitive to proteins in milk like casein, switching to milk alternatives helps reduce milk protein amounts, thus minimising the risks of developing digestive issues.
6. Reduce Your Coffee Intake
Overconsuming coffee leads to an overstimulated digestive tract, gas and bloating. Limiting your coffee intake helps reduce caffeine amounts in your system, thus giving your digestive system a break.
Since coffee dehydrates the body, it slows down digestion, thus contributing to gas and bloating. Reducing your coffee intake ensures you’re well-hydrated and promotes healthy digestion.
How to Release Bloating When It Happens
There are various techniques you can try to help alleviate bloating symptoms, such as:
- Take peppermint tea: Peppermint tea helps the valves in your digestive tract relax, thus alleviating gastric discomfort.
- Exercise will help stimulate your digestive system and reduce gas and bloating.
- Drink water: Staying hydrated prevents constipation and keeps your digestive system running well.
- Take digestive enzyme supplements: Look for supplements containing enzymes like amylase, protease, and lipase. These supplements can help digest compounds in coffee that cause bloating and gas. Look for supplements with enzymes like lipase, protease, and amylase.
Coffee causes bloating in some individuals due to its acidity and caffeine content. Nevertheless, you can alleviate these symptoms in various ways, such as by exercising and staying hydrated.
Making minor adjustments can help coffee lovers continue enjoying their favourite beverage without experiencing digestive issues. Listen to your body and experiment with different coffee consumption methods to find what works for you.