Is Coffee SIBO-Friendly or not?Friday Dec 23, 2022
If a hot cup of coffee is a staple in your morning routine then it can be hard to imagine life without it. That sweet aroma just puts you in a good mood and helps you start your day off on the right foot!
The thing is, coffee and SIBO don’t always play nice together. So if SIBO (aka small intestinal bacterial overgrowth) has reared its ugly head in your life, you may have noticed some pretty adverse side effects from drinking your morning coffee.
You frequent the bathroom more often than normal, your stomach’s upset, and you’re having a lot of abdominal discomfort. That leads you to this question: Is coffee bad for SIBO?
In this post, we’ll take a look at how SIBO and coffee are related. We’ll give you all the information you need so you can decide for yourself if coffee has a place in your diet moving forward.
What Is SIBO?
SIBO stands for Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth. It occurs when your small intestine becomes flooded with an overgrowth of one species of bacteria (hence the overgrowth part of SIBO’s name). SIBO symptoms can include bloating, gas, stomach discomfort, and diarrhea.
If left untreated, it can contribute to skin issues like acne, osteoporosis, and may even lead to the development of kidney stones. Hypochlorhydria (aka low stomach acid) is the primary cause of SIBO. Low stomach acid allows for a plethora of bad microbes to colonize your small intestine. Since their symptoms are so similar, SIBO and IBS often get confused with each other. For help differentiating between the two, check out this post!
How SIBO and Coffee Interact
First off, the reaction between SIBO and coffee is going to vary from person to person. You might experience symptoms that send you straight to the nearest bathroom and make you want to forgo your morning coffee, while a coworker with SIBO may be able to enjoy their morning cup of brew with no incident at all.
While coffee does contain antioxidants, its acidity may cause irritation that causes SIBO flare-ups. These can include abdominal discomfort and indigestion. Many people who drink coffee will tell you that it has a sort of laxative effect, meaning it can stimulate bowel movements and actually be beneficial if constipation is an issue for you (check out these natural stool softeners that can also help). Increased gut motility (i.e. speeding up digestion and stimulating bowel movements) can make things worse for you though if you already suffer from SIBO diarrhea.
Aside from acting as a sort of laxative, the caffeine in coffee may negatively impact adrenal function, which can result in brain fog, low energy, depressed mood, and a host of other symptoms. If you’ve ramped up on caffeine before, you already know it’s not sleep-friendly at all. Caffeine consumption has caused many sleepless nights for a lot of people.
If you’re under stress or have high anxiety while drinking coffee, caffeine can actually make things worse with your SIBO symptoms. It speeds up your heart rate, which can cause you to become more stressed. Stress weakens the immune system and disrupts gut motility, which no doubt affects SIBO and may lead to a flare-up of symptoms.
SIBO and Coffee Wrap Up
When it comes to SIBO and coffee, admittedly, there isn’t a one size fits all explanation for how it will impact you individually. While some people may react adversely to coffee, that doesn’t mean a bad reaction will happen to everyone.
If you feel like coffee may be causing you issues, try removing it from your diet for a little while then slowly reintroduce it to see if that’s really what’s causing the issue. At that point, you should have your answer on whether or not your coffee is actually making your SIBO worse.
If you do end up deciding to ditch your morning cup of joe, that doesn’t mean you can’t still enjoy a nice, refreshing drink to help you get your days started. Here are 7 gut-friendly coffee alternatives, including green tea, kombucha, and chicory root!
About the Author
Chad Richardson is a freelance writer from Cincinnati, OH who also enjoys going to the gym and doing his best Arnold Schwarzenegger impersonation, scrolling through Netflix trying to find a new binge-worthy show, and catching a game to root on his hometown sports teams.