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Can Coffee Make You Bloated? Why & What to Do

a cup of cappuccino on wooden table

Despite its amazing taste and incredible ability to give you a boost of energy throughout the day, coffee may have some downsides. These downsides include teeth stains, the delightful “coffee breath” aftermath, and a caffeine crash if you go overboard on any given day. But does coffee make you bloated?

For some people, coffee can cause bloating immediately after consumption. However, this is usually temporary, and its extent will vary from person to person. Also, studies show that the caffeine in coffee can stimulate your digestive tract and cause spasms in your bowels, which can lead to bloating.

In fact, some studies have also linked coffee to an aggravation of peristalsis (the contraction of bowel muscles). This can lead to an increase in muscle contraction and relaxation which can cause a feeling similar to cramps. But there are other reasons why you may feel a bit bloated after consuming a cup of joe. Let’s look at the most common ones.

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It May Cause Stomach Irritation

Coffee is naturally acidic. This means that it can cause an inflammatory response and anyone who is sensitive to histamine, prone to stomach sensitivity, or has IBS (irritable bowel syndrome). These effects can be exacerbated if your coffee contains milk, sugar, or other additives.

Studies have also shown that coffee promotes the release of a hormone called gastrin. Gastrin is responsible for filling our stomachs full of acid for digestive purposes. This may explain why some people report having stomach pain after consuming coffee on an empty stomach.

middle aged woman touching her stomach
Image Credit: fizkes, Shutterstock

It May Be the Milk

People who suffer from lactose intolerance may not be aware of it initially. Anyone who consumes coffee regularly may be so used to it that they don’t realize the symptoms after consuming the beverage. If you suffer from lactose intolerance or any type of sensitivity to dairy products, you may find that consuming a latte or milk with coffee leaves you feeling a bit bloated–and in some cases, you may experience stomach cramping and diarrhea.

Artificial Sweeteners May Be the Culprit

Artificial sweeteners, including sugar, Sweet and Low, Equal, and Splenda (which contains maltodextrin) can also cause bloating and anyone with stomach or histamine sensitivities, IBD, or other digestive-related issues. Many of these sweeteners also contain additives such as sorbitol and aspartame.

The human body does not easily digest these ingredients, which can cause stomach irritation and may lead to bloating. The sugar content can also lead to an influx of bad bacteria in the digestive system, which can trigger an imbalance among other health-related issues in addition to causing bloating and gas.

adding sugar into a cup of coffee
Image Credit: shixugang, Pixabay

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Wrapping Things Up

So yes, coffee can cause bloating and even stomach irritation and some people. Anyone who has digestive issues, stomach sensitivity, or lactose intolerance may find themselves suffering from this issue after consuming coffee.

And if so, it is best to limit your coffee consumption or phase out certain ingredients to nail down the potential culprit. This may include trying non-dairy creamers or natural sweeteners such as Stevia.

Featured Image Credit: Pexels, Pixabay


Kate MacDonnell

Kate is a lifelong coffee enthusiast and homebrewer who enjoys writing for coffee websites and sampling every kind of coffee known to man. She’s tried unusual coffees from all over the world and owns an unhealthy amount of coffee gear.

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