Is Coffee Bad for Acid Reflux? Understanding the Relationship and Finding Solutions

Is Coffee Bad for Acid Reflux? If you’re someone who experiences symptoms of acid reflux, GERD, or heartburn, you may be wondering if your morning cup of coffee is contributing to your discomfort. Coffee is a popular beverage enjoyed by many people, but it is also known to contain caffeine and other compounds that can affect the acidity levels in the stomach and esophagus. Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) is a condition in which the lower esophageal sphincter (LES) weakens, allowing stomach acid and food to flow back up into the food pipe.

Coffee is often cited as a potential trigger for GERD symptoms, but research on the effects of coffee and caffeine on acid reflux is mixed. Some studies suggest that caffeine can relax the LES, while others suggest that it can increase stomach acid production. In this article, we‘ll explore the relationship between coffee and acid reflux, the potential health benefits and risks of coffee consumption, and lifestyle changes that may help alleviate acid reflux symptoms.

coffee bad for acid reflux

What Is Acid Reflux?

What is acid reflux? Acid reflux occurs when the sphincter muscle at the lower end of your esophagus relaxes at the wrong time, allowing stomach acid to back up into your esophagus.

Normally, this muscle, known as the lower esophageal sphincter (LES), acts as a barrier, preventing the contents of the stomach from flowing upward. However, when the LES becomes weakened or relaxed, stomach acid can splash back into the esophagus, leading to a range of uncomfortable symptoms. These symptoms can include a burning sensation in the chest (commonly known as heartburn), regurgitation of stomach acid into the mouth, difficulty swallowing, and a bitter or sour taste in the throat.

Acid reflux can be a temporary inconvenience for some, but for others, it can be a chronic condition known as gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). Understanding the causes and triggers of acid reflux is important for managing the condition and finding effective treatment options.

Is Coffee Bad for Acid Reflux?

Is Coffee Bad for Acid Reflux? Caffeinated food and beverages can increase the acidity of gastric secretions. In order to decrease the acidity of these secretions, it is best to minimize the amount of caffeine in your diet, as noted by Zigler, a renowned expert in the field. Caffeine may also relax the lower esophageal sphincter, which is responsible for keeping the stomach contents from flowing back up into the esophagus. 

When this sphincter is relaxed, it can trigger acid reflux or make existing symptoms worse. Therefore, for individuals who experience acid reflux, it is advisable to consider the potential impact of coffee and other caffeinated beverages on their condition.

Is Coffee Bad Acid Reflux

Will Drinking Coffee On An Empty Stomach Make Acid Reflux Worse?

Will drinking coffee on an empty stomach make acid reflux worse? Coffee increases the production of stomach acid but doesn’t appear to cause digestive issues for most people. Therefore, drinking it on an empty stomach is perfectly fine. While coffee does stimulate the production of gastric acid, studies have shown that it does not necessarily lead to increased acid reflux symptoms or exacerbate existing conditions like GERD. 

The acidity of coffee is often neutralized by stomach acid, and the majority of individuals can tolerate moderate coffee consumption without experiencing significant digestive discomfort. However, it’s important to note that everyone’s body reacts differently, and some individuals with sensitive stomachs may still experience worsened acid reflux symptoms if they consume coffee on an empty stomach. If you’re unsure how coffee affects your acid reflux, it’s advisable to pay attention to your body’s reactions and consult with a healthcare professional for personalized advice.

What Is The Best Time To Drink Coffee?

What is the best time to drink coffee? It turns out that the best time to enjoy your cup of joe might not be first thing in the morning, but rather about an hour after you wake up. Recent research suggests that during this time, your body’s production of cortisol, a hormone that helps regulate energy and wakefulness, is at one of its three daily peaks.

 A small but intriguing clinical study conducted by researchers revealed this interesting finding. By waiting for an hour after waking up to indulge in your favorite caffeinated beverage, you can align the stimulatory effects of coffee with the natural peak in cortisol levels, potentially maximizing its energizing benefits. So, consider delaying that morning coffee ritual for optimal enjoyment and alertness throughout the day.

The Best Time To Drink Coffee

The Effects Of Caffeine On GERD

Understanding the effects of caffeine on GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease) is crucial for managing symptoms effectively. Consider the following points:

Caffeine’s impact on the lower esophageal sphincter (LES):

 Caffeine has been shown to relax the LES, a muscular ring that controls the flow of food and stomach acid into the stomach. When the LES is relaxed, it becomes easier for stomach acid to reflux into the esophagus, potentially leading to symptoms like heartburn, regurgitation, and a bitter taste in the mouth.

Stomach acid production:

 Caffeine stimulates the production of stomach acid, which can further contribute to GERD symptoms. Increased acid levels can lead to heightened acidity in the stomach and esophagus, making reflux more likely.

Individual sensitivity: 

While caffeine is generally recognized as a trigger for GERD symptoms, the extent to which it affects individuals can vary. Some people with GERD may find that even small amounts of caffeine worsen their symptoms, while others may tolerate moderate caffeine intake without experiencing significant discomfort.

Decaffeinated coffee considerations:

 Decaffeinated coffee is not completely caffeine-free. It still contains a small amount of caffeine, which may have a milder impact on GERD symptoms compared to regular coffee. However, it is advisable to monitor individual tolerance, as even low levels of caffeine can affect some individuals with GERD.

The Effects Of Caffeine On GERD

Personalized approach:

 It is important to assess your own tolerance and sensitivity to caffeine. Keep track of your symptoms after consuming caffeine-containing beverages and consider reducing or eliminating caffeine intake if you notice a correlation between caffeine and increased GERD symptoms.

Lifestyle modifications: 

Managing GERD involves a holistic approach. Alongside reducing caffeine intake, implementing other lifestyle changes can help alleviate symptoms. These may include maintaining a healthy weight, avoiding trigger foods and drinks, eating smaller meals, avoiding lying down immediately after meals, and elevating the head of the bed during sleep.

Remember, consulting with a healthcare professional or a gastroenterologist is essential for personalized advice based on your specific condition. They can provide tailored recommendations and assist you in finding the most suitable approach to managing GERD symptoms effectively.

6 Things That Make Your Acid Reflux Worse

Eating Too Quickly

When you eat too quickly, you may not chew your food thoroughly, leading to larger food particles entering your stomach. This can put pressure on the lower esophageal sphincter (LES), causing it to relax and allowing stomach acid to flow back up into the esophagus. To avoid this, take your time to chew each bite thoroughly and savor your meals.

Eating Large Meals

Consuming large meals can overload your stomach, stretching it beyond its capacity. This can put pressure on the LES, leading to acid reflux. Instead, opt for smaller, more frequent meals throughout the day. This approach helps prevent excessive stomach distention and promotes better digestion.

Drinking Alcohol

Alcohol is known to relax the LES, making it easier for stomach acid to splash up into the esophagus. Additionally, alcohol can irritate the lining of the esophagus, exacerbating acid reflux symptoms. Limiting or avoiding alcohol consumption can help reduce the frequency and severity of acid reflux episodes.

Not Having a Healthy Weight

Carrying excess weight can increase the pressure on your stomach, leading to acid reflux. Losing weight through a combination of a balanced diet and regular exercise can significantly improve your acid reflux symptoms. Consult with a healthcare professional for personalized guidance on achieving a healthy weight.

Drinking Coffee

Coffee, especially when consumed in large amounts or on an empty stomach, can trigger acid reflux. The caffeine content in coffee can relax the LES and stimulate excess stomach acid production. If you’re prone to acid reflux, consider reducing your coffee intake or switching to low-acid coffee alternatives.

Eating Right Before Bed

Eating a heavy meal or snacking right before bed can increase the likelihood of acid reflux symptoms. When you lie down, gravity can’t help keep stomach acid where it belongs, leading to reflux. Try to finish your last meal or snack at least two to three hours before lying down to allow for proper digestion.

Things That Make Your Acid Reflux Worse

Tips To Avoid Acid Reflux While Drinking Coffee

For many coffee enthusiasts, the joy of a morning cup of coffee can be dampened by the discomfort of acid reflux. Acidic coffee can trigger symptoms like heartburn and indigestion in individuals with acid reflux or gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). However, with a few practical tips and modifications, it is possible to enjoy your favorite brew without experiencing unwanted effects. Below, we will delve into seven detailed strategies to help you minimize acid reflux while still savoring your coffee.

Low Acid Coffee

Opt for low acid coffee options, specifically processed to reduce acidity levels. Look for coffee brands that promote their products as “low acid” or “stomach-friendly.” These coffees undergo special processing techniques that remove or reduce the compounds responsible for acidity, resulting in a smoother and less irritating cup.

Dark Roast

Consider switching to dark roast coffee. Dark roasts are known to have lower acid levels compared to lighter roasts. The prolonged roasting process breaks down some of the acids naturally present in the coffee beans, resulting in a less acidic and milder flavor. Dark roasts also offer a rich and robust taste, making them an appealing alternative for coffee enthusiasts.

Low Elevations

When choosing coffee beans, opt for those grown at lower elevations. Coffee beans cultivated at higher altitudes tend to have higher acidity levels. Beans grown at lower elevations are often associated with a smoother and less acidic flavor profile. Look for coffee beans sourced from regions known for their lower-elevation plantations to minimize the risk of triggering acid reflux.

Acid Reducers

To decrease the acidity of your coffee, consider adding acid reducers such as a splash of milk or a non-dairy alternative. These additions can help neutralize some of the acids present in the coffee, making it gentler on the stomach. Experiment with different options like almond milk, oat milk, or even a dollop of whipped cream to find the one that best suits your taste preferences and digestive system.

Cold Brewing

Explore the world of cold brewing for a less acidic coffee experience. Cold brewing involves steeping coffee grounds in cold water for an extended period, typically 12 to 24 hours. This slow extraction method produces a coffee concentrate that is significantly less acidic compared to traditional hot brewing methods. Dilute the concentrate with water or milk to your desired strength and enjoy a smoother, less acidic cup of coffee.

Egg Shells

An unconventional approach to reducing coffee acidity is adding crushed eggshells to the coffee grounds before brewing. Eggshells contain calcium carbonate, which can help neutralize some of the acids in the coffee. Make sure to clean and crush the eggshells thoroughly before incorporating them into your brewing process. This method requires experimentation to find the right amount of eggshells for your taste preferences.

A Dash of Salt

Adding a small pinch of salt to your coffee can help counterbalance the acidity and mellow out the flavor. Salt can act as a flavor enhancer, smoothing the overall taste profile of the coffee. Begin with a tiny amount and adjust according to your preference, keeping in mind that a little goes a long way.

Tips To Avoid Acid Reflux While Drinking Coffee

FAQs about Is Coffee Bad for Acid Reflux?

Can I drink coffee if I have acid reflux?

Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) typically leads to symptoms like heartburn, respiratory issues, and digestive discomfort. Due to its potential to exacerbate these symptoms, healthcare professionals often advise individuals with GERD to avoid consuming caffeine, including coffee. Caffeine can relax the lower esophageal sphincter, allowing stomach acid to flow back into the esophagus, leading to increased heartburn and discomfort. It is recommended to explore alternative beverages that are less likely to trigger acid reflux symptoms and to consult with a healthcare provider for personalized advice.

What coffee is best for acid reflux?

When it comes to choosing coffee that is best for acid reflux, opting for low-acid coffee brands can be a great solution. Some recommended low-acid coffee brands include Purity Coffee Dark Roast Whole Bean Coffee, Trücup Born to Be Mild Light Roast, Puroast Coffee Colombian Dark Roast, Cafe Don Pedro French Roast Low Acid Coffee, and Golden Ratio Original Gold Coffee. These brands have undergone special processing techniques or use specific beans to reduce acidity, allowing you to enjoy your coffee without the risk of an upset stomach, heartburn, or acid reflux.

What can I drink with acid reflux?

If you’re looking for drinks that are gentle on the stomach for acid reflux, there are several options to consider. Ginger tea is known for its soothing properties and can help alleviate symptoms. Certain fruit and vegetable juices, such as apple or carrot juice, may also be well-tolerated. Opting for plant-based milk like almond or oat milk can provide a non-acidic alternative to cow’s milk. However, it’s important to steer clear of citrus juices, carbonated beverages, and alcohol, as these can exacerbate acid reflux symptoms.

Is decaf coffee OK for acid reflux?

Yes, decaf coffee can be a better choice for individuals with acid reflux or GERD (Gastroesophageal reflux disease). Opting for decaffeinated coffee can help minimize the risk of triggering acid reflux symptoms, as caffeine is known to relax the lower esophageal sphincter, allowing stomach acid to flow back into the esophagus. For those seeking a low-acidity option, decaf coffee processed using the mountain water method is recommended. This process effectively removes caffeine without the use of harsh chemicals, resulting in a gentler and safer option for individuals with acid reflux.

Will GERD go away?

GERD is a potentially serious condition, and it will not go away on its own. Untreated GERD can lead to inflammation of the esophagus and cause complications like ulcers, strictures, and an increased risk of Barrett’s esophagus, which is a precursor to esophageal cancer. It is important to seek medical attention and follow a treatment plan prescribed by a healthcare professional to manage GERD effectively and prevent further complications. With proper management, including lifestyle changes and medication, symptoms can be controlled, and the risk of complications can be minimized.


Is green tea OK for GERD?

In the case of GERD, green tea and other caffeinated teas may not be the best choice as they can potentially worsen acid reflux symptoms. Peppermint tea is also not recommended due to its relaxing effect on the lower esophageal sphincter. Fennel tea’s impact on acid reflux can vary from person to person. However, ginger root and chamomile tea are generally considered better options as they have soothing properties that may help alleviate GERD symptoms. It is always advisable to monitor your individual tolerance and consult with a healthcare professional for personalized recommendations.

Is milk good for acid reflux?

Is milk good for acid reflux? While milk can provide temporary relief for heartburn symptoms due to its ability to act as a buffer between the stomach lining and acidic contents, it’s important to note that the fat content in milk can actually aggravate acid reflux. For this reason, nonfat milk is a better option as it can still provide immediate relief without the added fat that may trigger reflux symptoms. However, it’s important to consult with a healthcare professional to determine the best approach for managing your acid reflux symptoms and to explore other dietary and lifestyle modifications that may be beneficial.

Is tea good for acid reflux?

Tea, particularly chamomile tea, can be beneficial for individuals with acid reflux. Chamomile tea is known for its anti-inflammatory properties and can help alleviate digestive symptoms like upset stomach. Moreover, it has a calming effect and can reduce stress, which is a common trigger for acid reflux and GERD symptoms. Including chamomile tea in your routine may provide relief and contribute to better management of acid reflux and GERD.

Is tea or coffee better for acid reflux?

Tea is generally considered better for acid reflux compared to coffee. While both tea and coffee contain caffeine, coffee has a higher caffeine content and can lead to muscle relaxation, including the lower esophageal sphincter (LES) that separates the esophagus and stomach. This relaxation can contribute to acid reflux as it allows stomach acid to splash back into the esophagus. Tea, on the other hand, typically has lower caffeine levels and may have a milder effect on the LES, making it a potentially better choice for individuals with acid reflux. However, it’s important to note that individual reactions to tea and coffee can vary, so it’s advisable to monitor personal tolerance and make adjustments accordingly.

Is Yogurt good for acid reflux?

Yes, yogurt can be a good choice for acid reflux. Opt for yogurt that is not too sour, as it tends to be more soothing for the digestive system. The probiotics found in yogurt can help regulate bowel function, promoting better digestion. Additionally, yogurt is a good source of protein and can provide relief from stomach discomfort, often giving a cooling sensation that can help alleviate acid reflux symptoms.

Conclusion for Is Coffee Bad for Acid Reflux?

Is coffee bad for acid reflux? The answer is not a simple yes or no. While coffee can potentially trigger acid reflux symptoms due to its acidity and impact on the lower esophageal sphincter, there are ways to mitigate the effects and still enjoy your cup of joe. By opting for low acid coffee, trying dark roast varieties, or exploring alternative brewing methods like cold brewing, you can reduce the acidity levels and minimize the risk of discomfort. Adding acid reducers, such as a splash of milk or non-dairy alternatives, can further alleviate the impact on the digestive system. It’s important to remember that everyone’s tolerance to coffee and its acidity levels may vary, so finding the right balance that works for you is key.

In conclusion, if you experience acid reflux, it may be worth experimenting with these strategies to find the optimal approach that allows you to continue enjoying coffee without compromising your comfort. Remember to consult with a healthcare professional or gastroenterologist for personalized advice based on your specific condition. Understanding the relationship between coffee and acid reflux empowers you to make informed choices and find solutions that work for you.

If you found this article helpful in navigating the relationship between coffee and acid reflux, don’t keep it to yourself. Share this post with your friends and neighbors who may also be seeking ways to enjoy coffee without the discomfort of acid reflux. By spreading the knowledge, we can help others make informed choices and find solutions that improve their coffee-drinking experience. Let’s support each other in enjoying our favorite beverage while prioritizing our digestive health.

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