Coffee is most people’s primary choice for an energy or mood booster. It’s also something that people consume to stay healthy. If you take a look at someone’s workplace, there is a very good chance that you’ll see a cup of coffee sitting on their desk.
Even though coffee is praised for all the health benefits it offers, there’s a growing concern among drinkers that its acidic nature might have an adverse effect on our health. In fact, a few studies are now suggesting this as well.
So, is coffee acidic?
Coffee does have a pH of 5, which puts it on the acidic end of the spectrum. However, its acidity is comparatively mild and shouldn’t really cause any harm to our system. To put things in perspective, coffee has the same pH as a banana. In fact, lime juice’s pH is much lower, at 2.
It’s not the acidity levels in coffee that you need to concern yourself with. Rather, you should consider the exacerbating effect caffeine has on the acidic parts of your body, which could potentially lead to conditions like gastritis and stomach ulcers.
In this article, we take a look at a few examples of acid-related conditions caused or worsened by caffeine. We will also take a look at some measures you can take to keep your health intact while consuming coffee:
Coffee And Increased Production Of Acid
Hydrochloric acid is an important stomach acid. Secreted by the lining of the stomach, it helps to digest the protein content present in our meals. Caffeine increases the amount of hydrochloric acid that is secreted in the stomach. This sounds good in theory but, in reality, is unhealthy.
Imagine that you drink coffee in between meals. This repeatedly strains the stomach, causing it to produce acid over and over again. As a result, the stomach may not have enough hydrochloric acid when it’s finally time to digest proteins.
Undigested proteins are harmful to the stomach and intestines. It can cause inflammation, which in turn, can lead to gastritis and damage the stomach lining. In addition to producing acid, the stomach lining actually protects the organs from it. Therefore, if the stomach lining is affected, the stomach will suffer further damage.
If you’re already suffering from a condition such as gastritis, then it’s best to reduce your consumption of coffee.
Coffee And Gastric Emptying
For some people, coffee is a very effective laxative because it stimulates peristalsis, the contracting and relaxing mechanism that allows food to pass through the gastrointestinal tract. Even though this sounds convenient during constipation, there is simultaneously an increased risk of gastric emptying for certain people, where their stomachs pass down food to the small intestines before it is completely digested. This has two negative effects:
- Firstly, partial digestion of food means that nutrients aren’t completely absorbed into your body. If this occurs consistently, then you may be at risk of developing things like nutritional deficiencies.
- Secondly, this increases the risk of inflammation along the gastrointestinal tract.
Coffee And Acid Reflux
Acid reflux is when hydrochloric acid from the stomach travels back into your throat. The lining of your throat, unlike that of the stomach, isn’t designed to withstand acidic conditions. Hence it gets damaged when acid comes into contact with it.
Usually, there is a sphincter at the bottom of the esophagus (throat) that is closed whenever we’re not eating. This stops any acid travelling upwards in its tracks. However, it seems that certain components in coffee cause the sphincter to relax, thereby allowing acid reflux to take place.
So, if you’re constantly experiencing heartburn, it’s recommended that you give up drinking coffee or at least reduce the number of cups you consume per day.
What Can You Do About It?
If you’re already suffering from a gastro-intestinal conditional but still want to keep drinking coffee, there are a few measures you could take to potentially reduce the effect, including:
Drink in Moderation
By limiting your consumption to 1-2 cups a day, you may be able to keep the acid secretion, gastric emptying, and heartburn to a minimum. It’s worth a try!
Drink Low Acid Coffee
Certain brands offer coffee that’s less acidic. This is done by brewing it in a way that ensures the least extraction of natural oils present in the beans, which reduces the acidity.
Drink Cold-Brew Coffee
Like low acid coffee, brewing in colder temperature ensures that less acidity seeps into the extracted coffee.
Live A Generally Healthy Lifestyle
You can negate any impact from drinking coffee if you cut out other factors that cause stomach acid-related diseases such as spicy food, stress, and irregular sleeping habits.
Coffee is acidic, which makes it unhealthy for people with certain conditions to consume it. Coffee can negatively impact our health in a few ways as discussed above. However, if you must have your cup of coffee regardless, you can take certain measures to reduce the effects.