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Caffeine and GERD

Caffeine and GERD

by Alex Brecher June 12, 2022 7 min read

Are you a coffee lover who also has GERD? Do you have to give up coffee to prevent heartburn? Spoiler alert: probably not!

Here’s what you should know about caffeine and GERD. Keep reading to find out about coffee for sensitive stomachs and the best coffee for acid reflux. Alex’s Acid Free Coffee comes in Regular, Decaf, and Half Caff versions so you can get the level of caffeine that is best for you.

Basics about GERD

Gastroesophageal reflux disease is also known as GERD. You may have GERD if you have acid reflux regularly and repeatedly. Acid reflux is also called gastroesophageal reflux or acid regurgitation. About 1 in 5 adults have GERD.

Acid reflux happens when acid from the stomach comes up into the lower esophagus through the lower esophageal sphincter (LES). The LES is a ring-like muscle that opens to let food pass through to the stomach while you are eating. It should close after you finish eating so that stomach acid stays in the stomach. However, the LES can loosen for various reasons, and that can cause acid reflux.

Most people who have GERD or acid reflux experience heartburn. That’s the burning or painful feeling in your chest. It is the result of acid coming into contact with your esophagus. These are some more possible symptoms of GERD.

  • Nausea
  • Trouble swallowing or pain while swallowing
  • An acidic or sour taste at the back of your mouth
  • Feeling full easily
  • Having a cough at night

Some people are at higher risk for GERD than others. You’re more likely to experience acid reflux or be diagnosed with GERD if you fall into one or more of the following groups.

  • You’re overweight or obese.
  • You smoke or use tobacco.
  • You drink alcohol heavily.
  • You are pregnant.
  • You use a lot of certain types of prescription or over the counter medications, such as certain pain relievers.
  • You eat fatty foods or large meals.

If you think you may have GERD, it’s a good idea to talk to your doctor about possible diagnosis and treatment. You can also ask about a coffee that doesn’t hurt the stomach.

Coffee and GERD

Does coffee cause acid reflux? And what do we know about caffeine and acid reflux? It turns out that we’re not too sure. A lot of people believe that coffee causes heartburn and acid reflux. On a diet for GERD, some people may avoid caffeine or coffee. But what’s the truth?

Many people report that they have symptoms of GERD after they drink coffee. And many healthcare providers include coffee on the list of foods to avoid or limit for patients with heartburn or GERD. Coffee has a lot of compounds in it, though. Does caffeine cause acid reflux?

There are some reasons why caffeine may be a problem for people with GERD. It seems as though caffeine causes the LES to relax. When that happens, acid regurgitation can occur, which leads to symptoms. 

Another way that caffeine can trigger acid reflux or other gastrointestinal symptoms is by irritating the stomach. Caffeine is an acid. If you have a stomach wound, such as a gastric ulcer, the contact between caffeine and the wound may cause pain.

Also, caffeine itself may trigger another response. Caffeine may stimulate the stomach to produce more stomach acid. If you’re trying to avoid symptoms from stomach acid, producing more stomach acid may not be what you’re trying to do! 

Caffeine may not be the only culprit in coffee when it comes to acid reflux and symptoms of GERD. There may be some other compounds in coffee that can contribute to acid reflux. In fact, caffeine isn’t the biggest contributor of acid in coffee. Instead, chlorogenic acids affect the acid content of coffee far more than caffeine does. If coffee does trigger acid reflux, it’s possible that these other acids are partly responsible.

Decaffeinated Coffee and Acid Reflux

After learning about possible links between caffeine and acid reflux, you might wonder about decaffeinated coffee. Is decaf coffee bad for acid reflux? Again, it probably depends on individual factors and the acid content of the coffee.

Decaf coffee can definitely keep you from suffering the effects of caffeine if you happen to be sensitive to caffeine or even allergic to it. It can also keep you from getting effects such as the loosening of the LES due to caffeine, or the increase in stomach acid production due to caffeine.

However, a decaf coffee can still be high in overall acid. A decaffeinated low acid coffee can be a choice if you’re looking for coffee that doesn’t hurt the stomach. Alex’s Acid Free Coffee comes in decaf versions, including whole bean and fresh ground options.

Low Acid Coffee for GERD

When you’re looking for a coffee for a sensitive stomach, you might want to consider the acid content of the coffee. Whether or not you want caffeine in your coffee, a low acid coffee may be a good choice if you have GERD.

Alex’s Acid Free Coffee has less chlorogenic acid and a lower acidity than the average of national brands, including Dunkin’ Donuts, Trader Joes, and Starbucks. We process our coffee without ever letting it touch hot metal. Our alternative method of roasting uses heat convection and allows for a lower acid content.

Alex’s Acid Free Coffee comes in different varieties.

  • Rise and Shine, which is fully caffeinated and absolutely delicious.
  • Half Caff, for those who need a bit of energy but can’t afford to be wired.
  • Decaf, in case you’re avoiding caffeine entirely or you’re looking for a cup of coffee later in the day.

Each type of coffee comes in whole and ground bean types. They’re available in 12-ounce bags and 5-lb bags.

You can be assured that you’re not compromising on taste or quality when you opt for Alex’s Acid Free Coffee as a coffee for a sensitive stomach. 

  • It includes a blend of coffee beans from the Chiapas region of Mexico, from Nicaragua, and from Honduras. The result is a balanced, smooth taste with notes of chocolate, nuts, fruit, and vanilla.
  • It is certified organic through the USDA’s National Organic Program (NOP), which has strict standards and regular inspections to make sure there are no artificial pesticides or other chemicals that could be harmful to you or the environment. 
  • It is guaranteed fresh from the time you receive the bag until the time you finish your last cup.

More Tips for Caffeine and Acid Reflux

If you and your doctor decide that you can have some caffeine, you might want to talk about some ways to make sure your coffee is gentle on your stomach. These are some tips.

  • Drink earlier so you're not going to bed full or with caffeine in your system. Caffeine takes 6 hours to leave your body, so it’s usually best to avoid it after mid-afternoon.
  • Consider half-caff if you want a lift but are not sure how caffeine might be affecting you.
  • Ask your doctor how much caffeine is safe for you to have at one time and in one day. A cup of coffee made from fully caffeinated beans might have about 100 mg of caffeine, and most people should stay under 400 mg per day. However, that can change depending on your body type and caffeine tolerance.
  • Ask your doctor about the safety of caffeine if you’re pregnant. Many obstetricians say some caffeine is okay, but some providers believe it’s best to avoid caffeine. A low acid decaf coffee, such as Alex’s Acid Free Decaf Coffee, is an alternative.

More Tips for Managing GERD

If you often have acid reflux, it’s natural to look first at what you eat and drink. Many people think they notice links between what they eat or drink, and their symptoms. That is, it’s possible that some types of foods and beverages can be triggers for heartburn or acid reflux. 

If it’s true that what you eat or drink can be a trigger, you might want to limit or avoid certain foods that are often linked to symptoms. These are some of them.

  • Fatty foods, such as French fries and other fried foods, pizza, fast foods, and fatty meats and cheeses.
  • Citrus fruit, such as lemons, oranges, and grapefruit
  • Spicy hot foods and foods with a lot of spices.
  • Tomatoes and tomato products, such as tomato sauce and ketchup.
  • Foods with a lot of vinegar, such as pickles and vinaigrettes.
  • Carbonated beverages, such as soft drinks and sparkling water.
  • Alcoholic beverages, including beer, wine, cocktails, and liquor.
  • Regular coffee with full acidity, which is higher than a low acid coffee such as Alex’s Acid Free Coffee.

Your doctor can help you figure out which foods may be triggers for acid reflux. Keeping a journal may help you notice patterns. You can also try eliminating all potential triggers from your diet, and then adding them back in one at a time until you notice one that seems to cause symptoms.

These are some more tips for managing GERD and preventing symptoms with lifestyle choices.

  • Lose weight if you are carrying around extra pounds. Excess body fat can put pressure on the LES and increase the chance that you get symptoms of GERD.
  • Exercise regularly, to be healthy and manage weight, but be careful to avoid exercising on a full stomach. That’ll put more pressure on the LES. It can also be helpful to keep the intensity of your workout from being too high. 
  • Be cautious about core workouts, such as crunches or other abdominal exercises, since they can put pressure on the LES.
  • Try to eat smaller meals rather than larger ones. That helps keep the stomach from being so full that it puts pressure on the LES and lets stomach acid get to the esophagus and cause heartburn.
  • Eat dinner earlier. This gives your stomach more time to empty before bedtime. Also, chew each bite thoroughly, and eat slowly.
  • Sleep in an upright position. If your doctor recommends this, she can help you figure out how to use pillows to support yourself while sleeping.
  • Smoking and other tobacco use can make GERD worse. Your healthcare provider can help you find resources for quitting if you use tobacco products.
  • Some medications can make acid reflux worse. Ask your doctor about any medications you are on and whether they may be contributing to symptoms of GERD.

It’s important to remember that GERD can lead to complications, so it’s best to manage it well. Talk to your doctor if you have GERD, and ask about any lifestyle changes you can make to get acid reflux under control. You may need over-the-counter or prescription medications for GERD.

Bottom Line 

The bottom line for GERD is that it’s something you need to talk about with your doctor. Different people have different triggers, and caffeine may be one for you. If it is, a low acid coffee, such as Alex’s Acid Free Coffee, may be something that can keep you feeling good while still being able to enjoy a delicious beverage whenever you want.



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