Coffee and IBS: Trigger or Tolerance? Expert Insights and Alternatives
Hi everyone. Welcome back.
For many individuals, the first thing they reach for in the morning is their cup of coffee.
For those dealing with IBS, this ritual may not be as easy as coffee can trigger some unpleasant symptoms for them.
In today's topic, we are going to review IBS and the low FODMAP diet. We are going to look at coffee's impact on the digestive system as well as IBS symptoms. And then lastly, we are going to help you determine whether you should or should not be drinking coffee with IBS as well as some alternative options.
I'm Katie Bailey. I'm a gut health dietitian at Oswald Digestive Clinic, where we help individuals improve and resolve their bothersome gut issues like gas, bloating, diarrhea, constipation, abdominal pain, and more.
If this sounds like you or someone you know and you'd like to work with our clinic, you can schedule an initial appointment with us.
You can also download our FREE GUIDE: Five Ways To Improve Your Gut Health if you'd like to get started right away.
Okay, let's jump in.
Irritable bowel syndrome or IBS is a condition that's characterized by abdominal pain associated with altered bowel movements. The symptoms are not the same for everyone but usually consist of gas, bloating, diarrhea, constipation, and abdominal pain.
If you are dealing with IBS or you know someone who is, you've probably heard of the low FODMAP diet. FODMAP stands for fermentable oligosaccharides, disaccharides, monosaccharides, and polyols.
These are types of carbohydrates that some individuals have a short time digesting, which can lead to the symptoms of IBS that we mentioned earlier.
The diet plan starts with a strict elimination of high FODMAP foods followed by a reintroduction phase where we gradually add those foods back in that we can identify your specific food triggers.
Navigating Coffee and IBS: Should You Drink or Avoid?
Coffee is a point of contention when it comes to the FODMAP diet in IBS. The question of whether coffee is a low FODMAP option is not a simple yes or no as it depends on various factors such as the type of coffee, and what you put in your coffee.
In an individual's tolerance level, brewed coffee is considered low fodmap, but there is a catch, the amount matters.
So according to the Monash University FODMAP Diet Guide, a single espresso or a small brewed coffee is considered low FODMAP, but as a serving size increases the FODMAP content increases as well.
Instant coffee can also be considered low fodmap if there are no additives in it that are considered high fodmap.
What you add to your coffee also makes a difference. So although coffee itself is low fodmap, if you add a high FODMAP food like milk to your coffee, then you could be creating a high FODMAP drink depending on what you add.
It's important to remember that just because the food is low FODMAP doesn't mean that it won't trigger IBS symptoms because there are other factors involved, such as caffeine content or just an individual's tolerance level.
Coffee's Impact on Digestion
Now, let's talk a little bit about coffee's impact on the digestive system.
Coffee can stimulate the production of stomach acid, which can cause heartburn and indigestion for some.
It can also speed up the digestion process, which can lead to diarrhea, particularly for those who are already struggling with IBS symptoms.
Caffeine, a key component in coffee can stimulate the muscles in the GI tract, which can make them contract more frequently and more forcibly, which can lead to diarrhea and abdominal pain.
For some people, research on caffeine and IBS is limited, but some studies suggest that individuals who have IBS have an increased sensitivity to caffeine.
Tips for Coffee Lovers with IBS
If you're a coffee lover with IBS, you may be wondering how you could still enjoy your favorite beverage without triggering your symptoms. So here's some tips.
Monitor your intake. Keep track of how much coffee you are drinking and how it is affecting your IBS. That way you can determine what your specific tolerance level is.
Try decaf coffee. This is a good option for people who are sensitive to caffeine. Now, just remember though that even though it has less caffeine than coffee, decaf coffee still has some amount of caffeine in it.
Consider what you're adding to your coffee. Cream, sugar, and artificial sweeteners can cause symptoms for people, so try non-dairy milk or just a small amount of a natural sweetener and see how you feel.
Listen to your body. Everyone's response to coffee is different, so I highly recommend that you listen to your body and adjust your habits as needed.
Exploring Coffee Alternatives for IBS
If you've decided that coffee is just not the best option for you in your IBS, there are other alternatives that you could consider.
Herbal teas can offer a warm and comforting beverage without the gut-stimulating effects of caffeine. Peppermint, ginger, and chamomile tea are all popular for their soothing effect on the digestive system.
Understanding your body's reaction to coffee with IBS is important, and as I mentioned before, listening to your body is critical. While some individuals with IBS can tolerate coffee, others find that it worsens their symptoms.
An individual's response or reaction to coffee can depend on many different factors. The type of IBS that you have, your overall diet, and your individual tolerance to caffeine or coffee.
So should you drink coffee with IBS? The answer to that is highly individual.
If you notice your IBS symptoms worsen after drinking coffee, you may want to consider reducing your intake or considering alternatives.
However, if you can enjoy coffee with no issues, there's no reason to give it up. The key to managing IBS is finding what works best for you and your gut health.
If you liked this blog, please check out other nutritional blogs we have on our website.
I hope you found this topic to be helpful.
If you're interested in working with our clinic, you can make an initial appointment by clicking the link below.
If you'd like to explore any of this information further or obtain an individualized nutrition plan, you can schedule an initial appointment at our clinic. We also take insurance and some of our clients get full coverage, which is great.
Or you can just start by downloading our FREE GUIDE: 5 WAYS TO IMPROVE GUT HEALTH