Does Coffee Cause Gas and Bloating?

Coffee is not just a beverage; it’s a daily ritual, a comfort, and a morning pick-me-up for many. But does coffee cause gas? Or does coffee cause bloating? Yes, for some people, coffee brings unwelcome digestive side effects.

This post was written by Lindsay Delk, RDN. It is for informational purposes and is not intended to replace medical advice or instructions given by your healthcare provider. 

A man holding his stomach with a cup of coffee on the table to show does coffee cause gas

Understanding Gas and Bloating

Before you attribute these digestive problems to your favorite brew, it’s important to understand what you’re dealing with. Gas is a natural byproduct of the digestive process. However, excessive gas or flatulence can cause discomfort and embarrassment.

Bloating is the sensation of fullness or tightness in the abdomen, which may also be caused by an accumulation of gas in the digestive system. Various factors can lead to these conditions, including diet and stress.

Does Coffee Cause Gas?

For most people, coffee doesn’t cause gas, but it may cause gas for some. Coffee affects digestion by increasing stomach acid production and stimulating bile and pancreatic secretions. Caffeinated coffee especially increases the release of stomach acid, which might lead to an upset stomach.

Coffee also stimulates movement in the colon. It’s even used as a safe way to get the colon back to normal after abdominal surgery. Both caffeinated and decaf coffee causes more contractions in the colon. It might be that the stimulation of the GI tract can cause gas in some people.

A woman holding her stomach to show does coffee cause bloating

Does Coffee Cause Bloating?

Coffee doesn’t cause bloating for most people, but everyone’s body is different. Coffee may not cause bloating for your friend, but it may cause bloating for you.

As discussed above, coffee can stimulate the gastrointestinal muscles. It might be that because coffee stimulates the GI muscles, the process of digestion is sped up. If food passes through the digestive tract before it’s completely broken down, this could result in bloating. The quicker movement of food could also cause pockets of air, leading to a distended abdomen and bloating.

Is It the Coffee or the Additives Causing Gas and Bloating?

Often, it’s not the coffee that is causing gas and bloating, but what you’re adding to your coffee, such as milk, creamer, or artificial sweetener. Or it could just be the caffeine.

>Milk and Creamers

Milk and creamers, popular additions to coffee, can be major culprits behind gas and bloating, especially if you’re lactose intolerant.

Lactose intolerance means your body doesn’t make enough lactase. Lactase is the enzyme required to break down lactose, the sugar found in dairy products. When lactose is not properly digested, it ferments in the colon, producing gas and causing bloating.

To find out if milk/creamer is causing your tummy troubles, stop adding it to your coffee for a few days and see if you feel better. If so, you can still enjoy your morning brew without the milk/creamer.

If you absolutely cannot drink coffee without milk or creamer, try a lactose-free milk or use a lactase enzyme, such as Lactaid. These are tablets you can take right before you drink your coffee or drops you can add to your milk.

>Artificial Sweeteners

Artificial sweeteners or sugar alcohols that you add to your coffee could also be causing the gas and bloating. Some sugar substitutes are harder for some people to digest. If they reach your large intestine undigested, bacteria ferment them, producing gas as a byproduct.

And you may have a sensitivity or intolerance to these artificial sweeteners, exacerbating the issue. If you notice an increase in gas or bloating after consuming coffee with these additives, consider going without sweetener or switching to natural sugar in moderation.

Coffee, sugar cubes, milk, and coffee beans on a white background

>Caffeine

Caffeine isn’t an additive to coffee, but it could be the ingredient causing your digestive issues. If you are sensitive to caffeine’s effects on digestion, making the switch to decaf could help alleviate the problem while still allowing you to enjoy your cup of joe.

Decaffeinated coffee contains significantly lower amounts of caffeine, reducing the likelihood of caffeine-induced digestive issues. Decaf coffee still contains a small amount of caffeine, but it may be low enough to prevent the gas and bloating associated with its caffeinated counterpart.

Factors That Influence Coffee’s Impact

Not everyone experiences the same symptoms from drinking coffee. Factors such as your gut microbiome, overall digestive health, and caffeine sensitivity can affect how your body responds.

The speed at which you drink your coffee, the acidity of the brew, and added ingredients can also play a role in how it impacts your digestive system. The foods you eat with your coffee or drinking your coffee on an empty stomach can also influence the impact.

Unfortunately, if you have irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), you are much more likely to experience gas and bloating from drinking coffee. Coffee has been found to trigger or worsen IBS symptoms in many people.

Tips for Reducing Gas and Bloating from Coffee

If you love coffee but hate the side effects, there are things you can do to help reduce the gas and bloating:

  • Eat a small, easily digestible meal or snack before your coffee if you often drink it on an empty stomach. Food can help buffer the effects of coffee on your digestive system.
  • Experiment with different brewing methods. Some people find that espresso or French press coffee causes less bloating compared to drip coffee.
  • Make sure you’re drinking plenty of water to stay hydrated, which helps with digestion.
  • Consider adding a probiotic supplement to your diet to help balance your gut microbiome and reduce symptoms.
  • Sip your coffee slowly. Gulping it down quickly can introduce excess air into your digestive system, which will lead to gas and bloating.
  • If dairy is the issue, consider alternative milk options like oat, almond, or soy, or enjoy your coffee black.
  • Switch to decaffeinated coffee because caffeine can stimulate your digestive system even more.
  • Keep a food diary to track your coffee intake alongside your meals and symptoms. Over time, you may be able to identify specific triggers that could be causing gas and bloating.

Bottom Line

Does coffee cause gas for some people? Yes. Does coffee cause bloating for some people? Yes. But for many, coffee is a staple. If you’re reading this article, that’s probably the case for you. But if you become uncomfortable after your daily cup, understanding the reasons behind it and making some adjustments can help. And if symptoms persist, it’s always wise to consult with a healthcare professional for personalized advice.

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