The answer to the question can coffee cause heartburn or not, has to be a resounding yes. As one of the many known triggers of acid indigestion, coffee is high on the list of potential culprits.
What is Heartburn?
To understand what can coffee cause heartburn, first one has to establish what that condition is all about. Heartburn occurs when stomach acid finds its way into the esophagus, causing various uncomfortable symptoms. Depending on the strength of the heartburn episode, the condition can range from a mild annoyance to a serious disease that can significantly lower one’s quality of life.
The symptoms can be present even when the stomach is empty, and they get worse when the person in question eats certain foods, drinks certain beverages, or does something that is considered a trigger. Unfortunately, even if that person changes all his or her habits, they still may not feel right. Heartburn is often down to a combination of factors, and usually cannot be treated that easily.
The Dietary Triggers
While dietary causes are not the only ones that can lead to heartburn, they are probably the most common. For some people, it comes down to eating too much, for others, it is about their carbohydrate intake. Then, there are people, who find the answer to the question can coffee cause heartburn a little later than they would have liked.
They may be able to tolerate acidic foods without having adverse reflux episodes, it’s just that their trigger happens to be coffee. If someone wants to make the dietary part of the problem simpler, he or she can say that unhealthy foods are much more likely to be the cause than a healthy diet.
Highly acidic foods and food items with too much sugar are often the main cause. Unhealthy fats and heavy foods can also trigger a reaction. These food items contain lots of carbs and fat, making the body much more susceptible to an acid reflux episode. Any of these dietary triggers can cause heartburn.
Low Acid Can Be a Problem Too
No doubt, coffee is one of the triggers, answering the question can coffee cause heartburn or not. The interesting thing is, that sometimes the body can also produce similar symptoms when there isn’t enough acid in the diet. Having less than adequate levels of stomach acid can be just as bad as having too much of it.
What every acid reflux sufferer should seek, is balance. The best way to counter the negative impact of dietary triggers is a simple, balanced diet. Can coffee cause heartburn? Not when one makes the decision to skip it for dietary reasons.
In addition to this step, people should eat good sources of carbohydrates like brown rice, quinoa or sweet potato, lean protein like chicken breast, and non-saturated fats like olive oil, cocoa oil, or nuts. A well-balanced diet works for those who have occasional episodes after eating bigger than usual meals or eating certain foods.
Coffee, a Common Culprit
Can coffee cause heartburn in otherwise healthy people? The answer is yes. Some coffee types more than others. As a general rule, people with acid reflux problems should stick to darker roasts. Darker roasts are usually the less acidic.
Mexican and Sumatran coffee types are known to have low acid levels. If one cannot buy these types of coffees, decaf is the next best thing. During the decaffeination process, the acid levels in the coffee beans are reduced significantly.
Experts point to a wide variety of identified triggers of the mechanical nature. These can affect those, who usually have episodes after eating certain foods, and those, who have an underlying physical cause.
One of the most common mechanical triggers is wearing extra tight clothing. Then, the question, can coffee cause heartburn may come down to your clothing. There is a natural pressure system in the stomach around the intestines. It takes care of the food shortly after eating, before the main phase of digestion starts.
When the clothing pressures that inside area, the acid leaves the stomach and finds its way into the esophagus, causing acid reflux symptoms. Another common mechanical trigger is bending over, especially if someone carries a significant amount of extra weight.
When someone bends over repetitively, especially after they ate, they can suffer from acid reflux leakage. This can also happen when someone is sleeping with the upper body below the level of their lower body.
After the acid finds its way into the trachea, it can be very hard to breathe for a couple of seconds. Lying down for too long can be bad as well, especially after a meal. If you have to do it, it is better to lie on your back than on your stomach, although both can trigger an episode. Another common mechanical problem is eating too quickly.
Foodies understand this point, and they often become the victims of their own bad habits. When someone eats too quickly, not only do they chew less than they should, but they also eat too much, in addition to swallowing air. All three factors are known to cause acid reflux episodes separately, together they are even more potent.
Potential Cure and Treatments
Can coffee cause heartburn? Yes, of course, so you must be proactive and drink less, or drink decaf. Since heartburn is not a disease that has the same pathological causes in every case, there is no single cure for it, and there probably never will be. There is one exception, and that’s when the symptoms are caused by an operable physical problem in the stomach or esophagus.
Whether someone is affected or not comes down to a variety of factors, including one’s general health, diet, and exercise regime, close to that order of importance. The triggers can often be identified, sometimes after a game of elimination. A food diary is a big help for identifying the triggers.
The mechanical triggers can be avoided by simply paying attention to them. If you know your triggers are mechanical, it’s, best to wear loose clothing and not bend down constantly.
So, can coffee cause heartburn?
Unfortunately, yes. Coffee beans with a high acidic content are known to trigger reflux episodes even in otherwise healthy people. Those, who suffer from acid reflux disorders should avoid brown, caffeinated coffee beans. Dark coffee is a better bet, or alternatively, decaffeinated variants.