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Why Does Coffee Cause Bloating?

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The Truth Behind the Coffee Bloat

Most of us would confess that we can’t start our day without coffee. Some call it dependency. For others? It’s called addiction. Simply put, coffee is a must-have jolt of energy to tolerate those early mornings, as well as satisfy our need for a hot, delicious flavor. 

Don’t forget—our favorite cup of joe provides a pile of health benefits too, keeps us mentally alert and can even suppress our appetites to help with decreasing those waistlines. 

But the perfect amount of coffee consumption is different for everybody. Although it can be a healthy beverage to include daily, for others it can also cause some undesirable effects. For example, if you experience coffee and a bloating stomach, you need to take a look at your coffee habits—it may not necessarily be the caffeine itself that’s causing the damage.   

4 Reasons Why Coffee Can Make You Bloated

1. Coffee is acidic and a natural diuretic. 

What’s the benefit? It can improve your digestion by stimulating the production of hydrochloric acid in your belly and diversifying gut bacteria, as well as flushing extra water out of your body. This improves your overall health and can actually reduce bloating and water weight.  

Drinking a cup of coffee won’t cause the bloating. But if you already have a sensitive stomach, then that acidity might not work for you. Just like tomatoes, citrus, chocolate—and your favorite Bloody Mary—coffee can irritate your digestive tract and cause irritation—namely, bloating. 

2. Coffee can overexcite the digestive tract.

For only a small number of people, if you are sensitive to caffeine, an overexcited digestive tract can lead to bloating. Many people with digestive issues already might experience more bloating when they drink coffee.  

Now, if coffee causes your stomach to bloat, you may experience constipation as well. This, too, doesn’t happen to everyone who regularly drinks coffee, as the beverage usually stimulates bowel movements. But if you’re in the minority, you certainly know how painful and frustrating the problem can be. 

3. Coffee and additives = trouble.

Additives like cream, sugar and artificial sweeteners (sorbitol or aspartame) will more often than not guarantee bloating after coffee. Like an estimated 65 percent of people in the world, you could be lactose intolerant, which is more likely to be the bloating culprit, and those sweeteners are harder for the body to digest. Thankfully, bloating is only temporary. When in doubt, drink black coffee.

4. Coffee and our production of cortisol.

When we drink coffee, our bodies produce the hormone cortisol—the same chemical that we produce when we’re stressed or scared. Unfortunately, our bodies can’t tell the difference between caffeine and danger on the horizon. Your stress response is the same. This increases blood sugar levels, which essentially are turned into fat, most commonly stored around your middle—and contributes heavily to bloating. 

While the caffeine in coffee has been proven to assist overall health and weight loss, some of our caffeine habits can be a bad thing (if we’re not careful).   

5 Ways to Limit the Coffee Bloat

1. Stick with a cup or two. 

If you’re used to consuming 5 or more cups a day, grab that mug with pride and carry on. But for the select few who react a bit differently, it’s very important to know the effects caffeine and cortisol can have on the body. Think of it this way: A little coffee is good for you just like a little stress is good for you. Also, drinking that cup or two on an empty stomach could inspire irritation and bloating.

2. Cut the creamer. 

Creamer alone can make you feel bloated. Try your coffee without creamer (or switch to plant-based dairy-free) and see how that measures up. Side note: If you make your own creamer, you'll know exactly what ingredients are going into your system.

3. Easy on the sugar, pal. 

While we can’t all be the perfect human cutting back on baked goods, ice cream and candy bars, a simple change in your coffee additives could make a world of difference in just one week with belly fat or bloating. 

4. Learn to relax. 

Take deep breaths and time to relax. Meditation or relaxation helps to reset the body’s stress cycle. This will ultimately bring your cortisol level back to normal, preventing fat storage and bloating. 

5. Drink water between cups of coffee. 

We all know cutting coffee out completely just isn’t humane. Sipping water between coffees will slow down the bloating and hydrate you to boot. 

If you love drinking coffee, there are many things you can do to avoid a temporary bloated belly. Because even if your pants feel awkwardly (and uncomfortably) tight post-java, you don't have to give up coffee—just address your coffee routine and keep “chuggin" along. 

[Featured Image Credit: Jasmin Chew via Unsplash]

Related: Can Coffee Make You Sick?