Is Coffee Fodmap? (Check Out Now)

Low fod map written on a black board decorated with vegetables and meat in its surroundings.

Coffee is low in FODMAPs, but caffeine can be an irritant for many people, including those with IBS and those who do not, thus the confusion.

Coffee contains caffeine, which is a gut irritant, so while it is low FODMAP, there are still issues to address. It can stimulate gastric motility as well as raise blood pressure and give some people the “jitters,” or that anxious, nervous feeling.

Simply put, it stimulates your digestive tract, causing cramps from contracting muscles along the digestive tract and, as a result, sending you running for the bathroom. Coffee can also cause an increase in stomach acid, which causes heartburn and indigestion in many people.

Now let’s dive into the article further so that you can know more about Low fodmap and coffee.

What is FODMAP?

FODMAP stands for fermentable oligosaccharides, disaccharides, monosaccharides, and polyols. They are short-chain carbohydrates (sugars) that the small intestine absorbs poorly.

You can experience digestive stress after eating them, here are some of its symptoms:

  • Constipation
  • Diarrhea
  • cramping
  • Stomach Bloating
  • Gas
  • Flatulence

To avoid the above symptoms you can practice a low Fodmap diet, it is a three-step elimination diet:

First, you stop eating foods with high Fodmap, secondly, you start by reintroducing them to see which ones are causing the trouble. Lastly, when you identify these troublesome ingredients you can try and limit them.

You can base up your meals around a low fodmap diet with the following:

  • Eggs and Meat
  • Almond Milk
  • Oats, Quinoa, and grains like rice
  • Eggplants
  • Potatoes
  • Cucumber
  • Zucchini
  • Grapes
  • Oranges
  • Strawberries
  • Blueberries
  • Pineapple
  • Certain cheese such as cheddar or fetta

However, you should certainly consult your nutritionist or your dietician for a full list of FODMAP diets.

Now let’s look into IBS, you might be wondering what is IBS and why do people who have IBS have to go on Low fodmap diets.

Irritable Bowel Syndrome

A man pressing his stomach due to stomach ache
Coffee can sometimes trigger IBS symptoms

IBS is a short form for Irritable Bowel Syndrome. It is a chronic gastrointestinal condition with no obvious cause, it is relatively a common condition worldwide that affects about 10- 15% of the population of the world.

This is usually a lifelong condition and it can be really difficult to live with it as it can impact your everyday life and mood.

It causes symptoms like diarrhea, constipation, bloating, abdominal pain, nausea, and cramps. These symptoms tend to go over time, but they can last days, weeks, and months at a time.

However, there hasn’t been any cure yet, but medicine and diet can help you control the symptoms in the long run.

Should You Avoid Coffee If You Have IBS?

Yes and No. Coffee has effects on the nervous, cardiovascular, and gastrointestinal systems.

A cup of coffee with white background
Caffeine is a stimulating agent which stimulates the brain and central nervous system

IBS gut symptoms are strongly linked to the gut-brain connection (the link between the digestive tract and the brain). As a result, it’s not surprising that coffee, which affects the nervous system, can also affect the gut.

While several studies suggest that caffeine may aggravate IBS symptoms, there is no direct evidence that adjusting (or reducing) caffeine intake can improve IBS symptom control.

However, if you decide to keep coffee in your diet, you can keep a track of your caffeine intake which may not exceed 400mg per individual, here are some typical amounts of caffeine in drinks:

Caffeinated DrinksCaffeine Amount
Cold Brew100-150mg
Coffee100-150mg
Black Tea25-50 g
Decaf Coffee2-5 mg
Dark Chocolate20mg
The caffeine content of different caffeinated drinks

Is Coffee Hard On Your Digestive System?

Herbal tea is being poured in a glass cup
You can always opt for herbal tea instead of coffee if it triggers your IBS symptoms

It might be. Caffeine, for example, is a stimulant that usually increases gut motility or the contraction of the muscles that propel contents through the digestive tract. This effect can cause loose stools or diarrhea, both of which can contribute to dehydration.

Caffeine also acts as a mild diuretic, meaning it increases urine output. According to Medline Plus, too much caffeine can cause insomnia, anxiety, dizziness, and shakiness. Stress and anxiety frequently exacerbate symptoms of many gastrointestinal conditions, including Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS).

Does Coffee Cause Intestinal Inflammation?

When coffee enters the stomach, it has been shown to cause the release of stomach contents into the small intestine before complete digestion.  Food that does not complete the digestion process in the stomach can sit and rot in your gut.

This creates a toxic environment in which bad bacteria can spread in the intestines, damage the intestinal wall, and cause inflammation–an immune response to enzymes in coffee.

Caffeine exposure and use increase the number of gastric secretions due to the acidity of caffeine. In some people, this can irritate the stomach‘s intestinal lining, resulting in stomach upset.

Its consumption has been linked to ulcers and gastritis. Caffeine has also been shown to aggravate symptoms of gastrointestinal disorders such as IBS and Crohn’s disease.

Can I Have One Cup Of Coffee With IBS?

A girl holding a cup of coffee
You can have one cup of coffee if it doesn’t trigger your IBS symptoms

Yes and no, all of it depends on individuals’ health. If you drink your coffee with milk, it may aggravate your digestive symptoms.

Lactose, a FODMAP found in cow’s milk, may contribute to gut issues. Milk is usually tolerated in small amounts by people with IBS, but you may want to eliminate it from your diet if symptoms become severe.

If you are concerned about IBS symptoms caused by milk, order a milk-free coffee such as an Americano or a short or long black.

Coffee is considered low FODMAP, so if it is well-tolerated, you do not need to avoid it while on the diet. However, certain types of coffee and how they are prepared can raise the FODMAP content. For example, the FODMAP content of instant coffee and ground coffee may differ:

  • Instant Coffee: You might want to check the ingredients to ensure that the coffee is made entirely of ground coffee beans. Chicory root, which is high in FODMAPs, is found in some instant coffees.
  • Ground Coffee: Coffees that are made entirely from ground coffee beans are generally low Fodmaps.

What Can I Drink Instead Of Coffee For IBS?

After removing the major offenders, it may appear that there is nothing left to drink. No, it does not. Let’s take a look at all of the beverages that you can easily drink:

  • Herbal Tea
  • Ginger Drinks
  • Dairy-Free Milk
  • Decaf coffee or tea

Why Does Coffee Make IBS Worse?

Coffees’ high caffeine content is the main reason it can aggravate IBS symptoms in some people. Caffeine boosts alertness and mental focus, but it can also be harmful to the gut.

The effects of caffeine on the digestive system include:

Increase stomach acid production

Caffeine and catechols are two compounds in coffee that can stimulate acid secretion in the gut (a toxic organic compound). By increasing stomach acid secretion, these compounds may be responsible for heartburn and indigestion. Cold brew coffee, on the other hand, may be less acidic than hot brewed coffee.

Increases the stress response

Caffeine is problematic for IBS sufferers who experience stress or anxiety because this causes a spasmodic effect on the gut, which caffeine may exacerbate. Caffeine can also cause an increase in heart rate and stress response, resulting in additional symptoms. Caffeine may contribute to an IBS stress-symptom cycle because stress is known to aggravate IBS symptoms.

Speeding up the bowel movements

Caffeine increases motility, that is, how quickly food moves through your system and speeds up your need for digestion.’ This occurs as a result of coffee stimulating the nerves and hormone receptors in the gut. Coffee, according to one study, can increase the need for a bowel movement within 4 minutes of consumption!

This is especially problematic for people who have diarrhea-predominant IBS because their motility is already faster than it should be. As a result, coffee may aggravate symptoms in people with diarrhea-predominant IBS.

Caffeine may help those with IBS by stimulating the movement of digestive material in the gut. This approach, however, should be used with caution, as too much caffeine can still cause abdominal cramps in people with IBS.

I go more in-depth on this topic in my other article that you can check out.

Coffee contains salicylates

Coffee contains salicylates, a type of chemical compound that occurs naturally in many foods and is also produced artificially in products such as aspirin and toothpaste. Salicylates are not FODMAPs (carbohydrates that cause IBS symptoms), but they can cause similar gut symptoms. A small percentage of people are sensitive to salicylates, which can cause IBS symptoms. If you are unsure, consult a doctor or a dietitian.

Which Food Triggers IBS?

IBS symptoms can be triggered by the following:

  • Fruits: Apples, apricots, mangoes all of these juices which contain corn syrup trigger IBS.
  • Vegetables: artichokes, cabbage, asparagus, cauliflower, snap peas, and snow peas may trigger IBS however, you can make juices from carrots, celery, broccoli.
  • Pulses: Beans, chickpea, and Lentils.
  • Dairy Products: Ice cream, milk and sour cream trigger IBS, However, rice milk, soy milk, oat milk are all dairy-free milk and low in fodmaps.
  • Wheat and Rye Products: Bread and other products that contain wheat for thickening.
  • Sweeteners: Honey, high fructose corn syrup, and some artificial sweeteners.
  • Insoluble Fibre: Whole grains, corns, nuts, and skin of vegetables and fruits.

Conclusion

Coffee is considered low fodmap, however, it may be triggering for someone with IBS and relieving for others who have constipation.

You can always look out for products that trigger your IBS and exclude them from your diet.

With this, I wish you the best for the choice you’re going to make with all this information.

You can watch the following video if you want to know about the FODMAP diet:

The FODMAP diet

Other Articles

Marty Spargo

Caffeine aficionado and coffee student (if there's such a thing!). I've come to love coffee in recent years and share what I learn along the way on this website.

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