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Why Does Coffee Give Me Heartburn?

Some of us couldn’t go a day without drinking coffee. Not only is it energizing and helps us survive long days at work, but it’s also delicious and can be prepared in various ways. Generally, there are no downsides to having an occasional cup of coffee.

But, if you’ve ever had too many, you might have noticed that you experience heartburn-like symptoms. So, why does coffee give you heartburn? Is it safe to drink on acid reflux?

Why Does Coffee Give Me Heartburn?

Coffee is a rather acidic drink, so it can worsen your acid reflux symptoms, such as heartburn. It does it in various ways, including its caffeine content and several other compounds that help relax your esophageal muscles, which contribute to keeping the stomach contents down.

Is coffee acidic?

A cold and hot coffee brew has a pH level of around 4.85-5.13. Not only is the pH level of coffee low, but coffee’s also acidic.

As a result, drinking a lot of coffee, especially by people who are prone to acid reflux and GERD symptoms, can worsen your heartburn and other digestive system issues. In addition, adding sugar, which is also acidic, can further worsen your heartburn. 

Coffee with milk has a slightly higher pH level than black coffee and espresso, but it’s still acidic. So, drinking too much of any type of coffee can lead to acid reflux symptoms, such as heartburn.

What’s more, some people tend to experience more severe heartburn after drinking milk. So, you might want to choose coconut milk to add to your coffee, as it’s alkaline-forming, unlike other types of milk.

How does coffee cause acid reflux?

Cold Brew Coffee
Cold Brew Coffee

Firstly, coffee is not a trigger beverage for everyone. But some people who have especially sensitive stomachs can experience heartburn after drinking even just one cup of coffee.

This often happens due to coffee’s caffeine content. Caffeine can relax the muscles between your esophagus and stomach, which increases the risk of gastric acid rising up and causing heartburn. That’s why doctors often recommend avoiding caffeinated drinks when struggling with severe acid reflux or GERD cases.

Coffee also has a bitter taste, increasing the number of other ingredients people add to it. For example, most people add whipped cream, sugary syrups, sugar, and artificial sweeteners to their brew.

So, the calories and sugar – both of which impact heartburn – add up, especially if you treat yourself to several cups a day. As a result, drinking black coffee made with lighter and sweetener beans, such as Arabica instead of Robusta, can help with that.

It’s also important to remember that drinking coffee won’t cause acid reflux as a medical condition. It can only cause some symptoms if you already have the condition, as caffeine is a trigger.

On top of that, studies differ on how much effect diet has on preexisting acid reflux or GERD. Many experts argue that some people are simply more susceptible to developing this condition regardless of what they eat.

What are the benefits of drinking coffee?

One of the most beneficial aspects of coffee is that it’s low in calories but very high in antioxidants. Since most people drink more than one cup of joe a day, they get more antioxidants from coffee than from veggies and fruits, which is very impressive.

These antioxidants help flush out harmful chemicals from your body and prevent oxidative damage to your cells. A diet full of antioxidant-rich foods can help prevent inflammation and lower your risk of chronic conditions.

Coffee also increases your energy levels and improves tiredness. This is due to the caffeine content, which blocks certain neurotransmitters, making you feel more energized throughout the day.

Drinking coffee can also increase the amount of dopamine, which helps improve your cognitive processes, mood, reaction times, and brain function. As a result, you’re more likely to be more focused after having a cup of joe.

Some studies also found that drinking coffee provides you with substances that boost your metabolic rate, helping you burn fat. In fact, drinking coffee can help increase your body’s ability to burn fat by as much as 11%, and even by 29% in people who regularly work out.

Espresso Extraction
Espresso Extraction

While this positive effect diminishes in long-term coffee drinkers, you’re in luck if you only drink coffee from time to time.

Including coffee in your diet may also lower your risk of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. Some studies show that coffee drinkers have a much lower risk of developing these conditions.

While that’s great news, it’s important to remember that you’re only reaping this benefit if you follow an otherwise healthy diet and exercise regularly. Doing all of these things can ensure you’re leading a healthy life free of various diseases.

Is coffee with milk better for heartburn?

Coffee With Milk
Coffee With Milk

Milk is a dairy product that makes it acid-forming. As a result, adding milk to your coffee will only increase its pH level but won’t change its effect on your digestive system. It’s also a good idea to avoid sugar and artificial sweeteners, which are not only bad for you but also harmful to your digestive system.

Other than that, you might also want to avoid whipped cream, sprinkles, and caramel, as these are loaded with calories and don’t contain any minerals and vitamins that can contribute to your health.

On top of that, some studies say that more concentrated coffee varieties, including darker roasts, are more acidic. So, it might be best to go for lighter roasts, often labeled as “creamy” or “breakfast” coffee.

While acidity depends on a lot of factors, switching up the type of coffee you drink can be the first step to decreasing how severe and frequent your symptoms are.

Coffee is an essential part of most of our lives. But, if you suffer from acid reflux, drinking too much coffee can lead to heartburn for various reasons.

You might want to limit how much coffee you drink to see if it makes a difference. Some people also benefit from over-the-counter medicine if it’s not just coffee that aggravates your acid reflux symptoms.