Acid reflux is caused by the loosening of a circle of muscles in the lower esophagus called the LES, the LES acts like a valve letting food through to the acidic stomach, and preventing stomach acid from coming back up.
There are said to be many different possible causes for the condition and many aggravating factors, but the evidence on coffee and its impact on the condition is mixed to say the least.
What Does The Research Say?
While it is commonly believed that drinking coffee causes acid reflux, which particular property of coffee that might affect it is unclear. Caffeine was considered to be the culprit, but while some evidence was found to show that decaffeinated coffee was less of a factor in acid reflux, decaffeinated tea showed no improvement over tea that contains caffeine, so the evidence is conflicting.
While many foods are considered to be risk factors, fatty foods and alcohol to name a few, there is not much clear evidence that coffee should be included in the risk list.
It is probably fair to say that cutting out coffee is something that should be on a list of possible dietary changes that might work for someone with acid reflux, however, given that it is often advised by professionals. If you have acid reflux condition and drink a lot of coffee, try to cut down and see if there is any change for you. There may or may not be, but it’s got to be worth a try.
What Are The Options?
If the thought of giving up coffee, or even cutting down with a single serve coffee maker, fills you with horror then there are options open to you. It stands to reason that people who have problems keeping acid inside their stomach should probably not consume acidic substances.
Here’s a tip. You could also get a small Keurig sized mug and a single serve coffee maker and then brew only the low acid coffee k cups and use this as a test to see if your acid reflux improves.
Coffee is not as acidic as it is considered to be, we talk in terms of acid tastes and bitterness, but that is a flavor not a pH level. Coffee sits somewhere between saliva and fruit juice with a pH level of around 5 depending on what sort of coffee you drink. It’s not as bad as a lot of other everyday foods. If you suffer from acid reflux and find that regular coffee does bring you discomfort however, all is not lost.
Low Acid Coffee Options
There are low acid coffees available, sometimes this is advertised on the packaging, but sometimes not. Keeping in mind a few pointers can make a difference in how much acid you’re consuming, without cutting back on coffee at all.
The acid levels in coffee decrease the darker the roast. The roasting process seems to burn the acid out of the coffee, and the darker roasts have a significantly lower pH than lighter ones. Given that the coffees that usually use darker roasts are espressos, then switching to espresso is definitely going to reduce the amount of acid you consume per coffee.
Lattes and cappuccinos which are espresso based but contain large quantities of milk are also great if you like them, as they serve to dilute the coffee too, making the acid less potent.
If you’re concerned that drinking coffee is causing or aggravating any medical condition, serious thoughts must be given about whether continuing to drink it is the right choice for you. If you are going to drink coffee, we recommend trying to find a low acid version that works for you and keeps you healthy. There are plenty of options to try out, and experimenting with coffee is one of life’s pleasures.