Updated: December 24, 2022
Written by: Pzaz Team

5 Reasons Why Coffee Gives You an Upset Stomach & How to Fix It!

If you’re reading this, you probably suffer from an upset stomach whenever you drink coffee. Luckily, you’re not alone. Many people experience digestive issues when drinking coffee, but the reasons for this vary from person to person. In fact, there may be several contributing factors that can lead to an upset stomach after enjoying a hot cup of java.


To better understand why your morning brew might leave you with a stomach ache, let’s take a closer look at the potential causes and how they affect the body.

Stomach Pain and Coffee

Drinking coffee can bring a number of side effects. Some common side effects are insomnia, dehydration, and even acid reflux. However, the main issue that coffee-drinkers face is stomach pain.

Why Does Coffee Make My Stomach Hurt?

Coffee can cause stomach pain in drinkers due to its stimulating effects on the digestive system. Stimulating effects can occur due to five reasons.

  1. Stomach sensitivity to acids
  2. Caffeine content
  3. Drinking coffee on an empty stomach
  4. Bad beans and ingredients
  5. Additives (milk, sugar, dairy)

Let’s take a closer look at how each of these factors can cause your discomfort.

5. Stomach Sensitivity to Coffee’s Acids

Coffee can cause upset stomachs due to its acidity. For context, the pH of coffee, which indicates the amount of acid present, is around 5. To compare, water has a pH of 7 while limes have a pH of around 2.8. 


Coffee’s pH varies based on how the coffee beans are roasted and how the coffee is brewed. This can impact the concentration of chlorogenic acid, quintic acid, and citric acid in the final drink. 


When coffee reaches your stomach, it can stimulate the production of stomach acid and cause an increase in gastric acid secretion. This can cause heartburn, acid reflux, and overall stomach discomfort. Additionally, coffee's acidity can weaken the protective mucosal barrier of the digestive system, potentially causing irritation of ulcers and other digestive problems. 


Coffee’s side effects can become even worse when you drink on an empty stomach. 

Can Caffeine Cause Stomach Ulcers?

Coffee has not been definitively linked to stomach ulcers. There is some evidence to suggest that coffee may exacerbate symptoms in individuals with existing ulcers or other digestive conditions. However, coffee itself is not thought to directly cause stomach ulcers.

4. Caffeine Content

Coffee’s caffeine content can also cause an upset stomach. Consuming coffee can stimulate the digestive system and increase bowel movements, a phenomenon known as the laxative effect. This occurs because the body wants to eliminate the caffeine from the system as quickly as possible. Your stomach’s jittery movement is what makes your stomach feel uncomfortable.  


This is often why people drink coffee when they have constipation, but we won’t get into that.

3. Drinking Coffee on an Empty Stomach

Drinking coffee on an empty stomach can also cause discomfort. Whenever you have an empty stomach, there isn’t anything to counteract the acidity of the coffee. This means the effect felt can be much more profound.


After all, coffee is full of certain compounds and chemicals and when there isn’t a buffer, these extra acids have direct access to your digestive tract. If you’re a regular coffee drinker, you probably know what we’re talking about.

2. Bad Beans and Ingredients

The quality of the coffee can play a role, because cheap coffee may contain contaminants like fungi. If not properly filtered, these toxins can survive the roasting process and lead to illness. The size of the coffee grounds can also impact the acidity of the coffee, with coarser grounds often resulting in less acidic coffee compared to finer grounds. 


Additionally, if the coffee beans are not ground to a consistent size, the resulting cup of coffee can be more acidic and have an odd taste. 

1. Additives

There are several ways in which additives in coffee can lead to stomach aches. One potential cause is the presence of contaminants or impurities in the coffee beans or grounds. These contaminants can come from various sources, such as fungi or other microorganisms that may be present in the beans or that may contaminate the beans during processing. Consuming coffee that contains these contaminants can lead to digestive issues, including stomach aches.


Another way in which additives in coffee can lead to stomach aches is through the addition of artificial sweeteners or other non-nutritive sweeteners. Some people may be sensitive to these additives and may experience digestive problems, such as stomach aches, when they consume coffee that contains these ingredients.


In addition, adding dairy products or other high-fat ingredients to coffee can also contribute to stomach aches. Dairy products, in particular, can be difficult for some people to digest, leading to digestive issues like bloating, gas, and stomach aches.


Overall, it's important to pay attention to the ingredients in your coffee and to be mindful of any additives that may cause digestive issues. If you experience stomach aches after consuming coffee, it may be helpful to try eliminating or reducing the use of additives in your coffee to see if that helps.

How to Stop Stomach Pain from Coffee

If you've found that coffee irritates your stomach, there's no need to give up on it entirely. There are steps you can take to brew a cup of coffee that is easier on your digestive system. 


It's worth remembering that coffee has a number of health benefits, including being rich in antioxidants and potentially lowering the risk of certain cancers. It's also not true that coffee stunts growth. Even those with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) can still enjoy coffee, as long as they choose the right type and prepare it in a way that is gentle on the stomach. With the right approach, coffee can be a regular part of your diet even if you have IBS

Try Cold Brew

Cold brew coffee is made by steeping coffee grounds in cold water for an extended period of time, typically 12-24 hours. The resulting coffee is usually less acidic and has a smoother, less bitter taste than coffee made with hot water. The lower acidity of cold brew coffee can help reduce the likelihood of stomach aches in some people.


In addition to its lower acidity, cold brew coffee may also have other properties that can help prevent stomach aches. For example, it may contain fewer potentially irritating compounds than hot-brewed coffee due to the slower extraction process. Cold brew coffee is also less irritating to the lining of the stomach because it is not consumed hot.


It's worth noting that while cold brew coffee may be easier on the stomach for some people, it is not a universal solution and may not help everyone.


Opt For a Different Source of Caffeine

One solution is to opt for a different source of caffeine. Energy drinks, teas, and even sodas can provide the caffeine you need to jumpstart your day. For instance, Monster and Red Bull are popular energy drink brands consumers use to get the spark they need. 


Some caffeinated sodas and other beverages you can try are:


Of course, there are much better alternatives to receiving your caffeine. Sodas and beverages have plenty of unhealthy side effects to them. This is largely due to their high sugar contents and artifical flavorings. 

Decaf

Decaf coffee can help prevent stomach aches by reducing the amount of caffeine that you consume. As mentioned above, caffeine is a stimulant that can cause the muscles in your digestive system to contract, which can lead to stomach aches and discomfort. By drinking decaf coffee, you can still enjoy the flavor and ritual of drinking coffee without the potential digestive issues that caffeine can cause.


It's important to note that decaf coffee is not completely caffeine-free. It still contains small amounts of caffeine. However, the amount of caffeine in decaf coffee is significantly lower than in regular coffee, which can make it a good option for people who have sensitive stomachs. 

Low Acid Coffee

One way to make a cup of coffee that is easier on the stomach is to choose a low-acid variety. Some types of coffee naturally have lower levels of acidity, which can be beneficial for digestion. 


Coffee beans and their acidity can be influenced by the altitude at which they’re grown and the type of soil used are both important factors. Higher altitude and shade-grown coffee tend to have lower acidity levels. Coffee’s acid content can also be modified through the roasting and brewing process. For instance, lighter roast coffee tends to be more acidic, while dark roast and gold roast coffee may be less acidic. Espresso, on the other hand, is known for having a higher level of acidity compared to regular coffee.

Try PZAZ

There are multiple reasons why your morning coffee could be causing your stomach pain. Your stomach might be sensitive to the coffee’s acidity or you might be using bad beans for your brew. Either way, if you want the stomach pain to stop, you should look to an alternative source for your caffeine. 


Pzaz caffeine energy spray is a unique and convenient way to stay energized without the negative side effects that come with traditional caffeine sources like coffee you’re drinking. 


By allowing you to microdose on caffeine, Pzaz allows you to maintain your energy levels without the risk of crashing or experiencing digestive issues like stomach aches. If you are looking for a more effective and stomach-friendly way to stay energized and focused, Pzaz is definitely worth trying.

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