Why is Caffeine Bad For GERD?

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  • May 7, 2015

If you have a confirmed diagnosis of GERD (gastro esophageal reflux disease) you probably have been warned against caffeine. Coffee and all other products that contain caffeine may already be in your list of ‘danger foods’ that trigger a fresh bout of heartburn and related troubles. But wait until you jump to conclusions. First read what Dr. Tracy Davenport has to say about the relation between your cup of Joe and acid reflux, and then decide. She quotes extensively about the research conducted by Stanford University with an intention to find the factors that aggravate or modify the course of symptoms in acid reflux. Numerous studies were conducted between years 1975 and 2004 and different aspects like lifestyle modifications, sleep position, body weight, dietary habits, etc were scrutinized to understand the effect they had on the symptoms of GERD.

caffeineThe final conclusion was that only 2 factors could bring about a confirmed modification in the course or severity of the symptoms, and caffeine was nowhere on the list. The only two things that could lessen the heart burn attacks were reduction in body weight and elevation of the head part of the cot or bed.

The study clearly focused on finding the effect of caffeine, and contrary to popular belief, no evidence could be established to label coffee as being bad for gastro esophageal reflux disease. They also compared the effect of warm water with coffee but both seemed to have no effect in either worsening the reflux or lessening it.

These findings by Stanford University have been described here, with just one intention in mind. Do not take anybody else’s words for granted, especially when it concerns your health. You are the best judge. Like the popular adage says, ‘One man’s meat is other man’s poison’. So if everyone else is too scared of enjoying their caffeinated beverage that simply does not mean that you have to meekly follow in their footsteps. Decide only after you get a firsthand experience.

Another interesting fact about this java is that it need not necessarily be limited to your favorite hot cup of morning beverage. Chocolates, carbonated drinks, cakes, pastries etc are the other places where you can find traces of caffeine.

Hot on the trails of these findings, is a totally opposing statement by another physician Dr. Judith Reichmann. She believes that caffeine can indeed worsen the reflux of gastric contents back in to the esophagus by relaxing the sphincter that guards the opening between the two. She suggests that even decaffeinated caffeine could spell trouble for patients who are suffering from GERD. She advocates total abstinence from any product that contains caffeine, for such patients.

The best way to stay in good health and to prevent acute attacks of heart burn or reflux related symptoms is to make your own personalized list of danger and safe foods. As stated earlier, what suits your brother may not suit you and vice versa. Moreover, many folks may find that the dosage varies too. So while some individuals may tolerate a full cup of coffee, others who are much more sensitive may come down with just a bite of cake that contains caffeine.

The Stanford University study reveals one important fact though; lifestyle modification can lessen your troubles. Losing excessive body weight is something that will lead to multiple health benefits. In addition to enhancing your self-image, it will also keep your cardiovascular system in better shape. Cholesterol levels, blood sugar levels and your locomotor system can all benefit immensely by maintaining normal body weight.

Elevating the bed is another easy to do modification. It can also help in case you are suffering from sleep apnea or snoring.

So the bottom line is that you need to find your own triggers and safe foods. But even if your heart burn is not aggravated by caffeinated beverages, it always helps to maintain moderation in terms of foods and beverages that do not have any nutritional value. Eating fresh and healthy foods coupled with regular exercise and active lifestyle will help to maintain your body weight in the healthy range. This will go a long way in helping you deal with the heartburn and other symptoms encountered in acid reflux disorder.