Why is my stomach gurgling after drinking coffee? (Effects of Coffee on the Gastrointestinal Tract)

In this text, we will provide the answer to the query: “Why is my stomach gurgling after drinking coffee?”. In addition, we will discuss why doctors ask people who have gastritis to avoid coffee, and we will also discuss how to prevent coffee from irritating your stomach.

Why is my stomach gurgling after drinking coffee?

Your stomach is gurgling after coffee because coffee Coffee contains specific compounds that have the potential to stimulate the production of gastric juice in the stomach, leading to an increase in acidity, typically in the range of pH 1-2.

These compounds encompass chlorogenic acids, Nβ-alkanoil-5-hydroxytryptamine (C5HTs), which are found in coffee wax, and, to a lesser extent, caffeine. It is widely believed that these compounds play a significant role in the promotion of gastric juice production.

Moreover, there exists a hypothesis suggesting that the by-products of chlorogenic acid during the roasting process, such as pyrogallol, in combination with C5HTs, may have an irritating effect on the gastric mucosa (the stomach lining).

This dual action of coffee on stomach acid secretion has raised concerns about potential consequences, including an elevated risk of dyspepsia (manifesting as poor digestion, discomfort, stomach gurgling, nausea, heartburn, eructation, and flatulence), as well as conditions like gastritis, ulcers, and gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). (1, 2)

Does coffee acidity and pH levels contribute to stomach gurgling?

No, the pH level of brewed coffee typically falls within the mildly acidic range. In the case of robusta coffees, the pH generally ranges from 5.8 to 5.5, while freshly roasted arabica coffees with higher acidity tend to have a pH range of 4.3 to 4.8.

Dark roasted blends typically exhibit a slightly higher pH, typically around 5.0. It’s worth noting that these pH levels are considerably higher than those of gastric juice and other acidic beverages such as apple juice (pH 4.3–3.3) or citric juice (pH 2.3–3.3). (1)

Can coffee cause gastroesophageal reflux (GERD)?

There is a hypothesis that coffee may reduce the basal lower esophageal sphincter pressure, potentially resulting in gastroesophageal reflux and heartburn. However, it’s important to note that not all studies have reported this effect.

It’s worth mentioning that obesity is the most frequently cited factor associated with gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), which is an uncomfortable condition characterized by the regurgitation of acidic stomach contents into the esophagus. (2)

Although some earlier studies have suggested that coffee consumption might contribute to the development of GERD syndrome, current research indicates that there is no substantial link between coffee intake and the incidence of GERD.

While coffee does have a stimulating effect on gastric acid production and has been reported to relax the lower esophageal sphincter, potentially leading to chronic gastric acid reflux, there is no clear evidence of a significant association between coffee consumption and GERD.

It’s important to note that excessive gastric acid secretion can harm both the gastroduodenal and esophageal mucosa, but this harm does not appear to be significantly correlated with coffee consumption. (3)

Can coffee cause gastritis?

Coffee itself does not directly cause gastritis, but it is advisable to abstain from coffee when experiencing gastritis. Gastritis is a condition marked by inflammation of the gastric mucosa, the inner lining of the stomach. Gastric lesions can result from disturbances in the stomach’s local homeostasis.

However, it’s crucial to acknowledge the substantial influence of centrally mediated processes in the development of these lesions. These centrally mediated processes significantly contribute to specific gastric lesions triggered by stress. (2)

Gastritis has traditionally been associated with acid-related conditions. Consequently, it’s understandable to assume that coffee, containing caffeine, might stimulate the production of gastric acid, potentially elevating the risk of these ailments.

Numerous studies have consistently suggested that coffee is a risk factor for both gastric and duodenal ulcers. However, it’s important to note that there is no substantial link between coffee consumption and the occurrence of gastritis or ulcer diseases. (3)

When do doctors ask us to avoid coffee?

Individuals dealing with functional dyspepsia (FD) are often oriented by doctors to refrain from alcohol, coffee, smoking, and the use of aspirin and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs.

However, there is an ongoing debate regarding whether these factors, particularly coffee consumption, are directly linked to the development of the condition. Functional dyspepsia pertains to the recurring manifestation of indigestion symptoms that lack a discernible underlying cause. (2)

Most studies examining the relationship between functional dyspepsia (FD) and diet typically involve the analysis of various dietary components, including coffee, due to the belief that coffee consumption might be linked to a range of dyspepsia symptoms. (4)

Establishing firm conclusions about the connection between coffee consumption and the presence of gastrointestinal symptoms is a complex task, primarily because coffee is often consumed in conjunction with or following meals. This complicates the ability to pinpoint the specific influence of coffee itself on these symptoms.

Indeed, some researchers have concluded that, given the conflicting data and the ambiguous nature of the association between gastrointestinal symptoms and coffee intake, it may not be advisable to routinely suggest abstaining from coffee for individuals experiencing such symptoms. (2)

How can I prevent coffee from irritating my stomach?

Several pre-roasting technological methods have been developed to address the issue of heartburn associated with coffee consumption. However, it’s important to emphasize that, as of now, there are no clinical studies that conclusively prove the effectiveness of these treatments in humans.

One strategy for alleviating heartburn involves the reduction of coffee wax content, thereby lowering the levels of C5HTs. This reduction can be achieved through steam treatment, either as an independent process or as part of water or CO2 decaffeination methods.

It’s noteworthy that these methods not only assist in reducing C5HTs but also contribute to decreasing the presence of chlorogenic acids and caffeine in coffee. (1)

Conclusion

In this text, we provided the answer to the query: “Why is my stomach gurgling after drinking coffee?”. In addition, we discussed why doctors ask people who have gastritis to avoid coffee, and we also discussed how to prevent coffee from irritating your stomach.

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References

1.-

Farah, Adriana.  Nutritional and health effects of coffee. 10.19103/AS.2017.0022.14. 2018.

3.-

Shimamoto T, Yamamichi N, Kodashima S, Takahashi Y, Fujishiro M, Oka M, Mitsushima T, Koike K. No association of coffee consumption with gastric ulcer, duodenal ulcer, reflux esophagitis, and non-erosive reflux disease: a cross-sectional study of 8,013 healthy subjects in Japan. PLoS One. 12;8(6):e65996. 2013.

4.-

Correia, H., Peneiras, S., Levchook, N., Peneiras, E., Levchook, T., & Nayyar, J. Effects of a non-caffeinated coffee substitute on functional dyspepsia. Clinical Nutrition ESPEN. 2020.