Does Low Acid Coffee Cause Less Acid Reflux?

Does Low Acid Coffee Cause Less Acid Reflux?

September 13, 2019 39 By Ewald Bahringer


“Does Low Acid Coffee
Cause Less Acid Reflux?” “Dark roast coffee is more
effective than light roast coffee in reducing body weight,” but what about the effect
of different roasts on heartburn and stomach upset? We know that “coffee consumption
is sometimes associated with symptoms of stomach discomfort;” and so, researchers stuck pH
probes down into people’s stomachs to measure the amount of stomach acid
generated by different types of coffee. The way you chart stomach
acid secretion in the stomach is called a “gastrogram.” You basically give people
some baking soda, which starts out alkaline, and
measure the pH in the stomach to see how long it takes the
body to restore the stomach back down into an acid bath:
about 15, 20 minutes. But if you mix that same amount of
baking soda with dark roast coffee, it takes longer, meaning
the dark roast coffee is suppressing stomach acid secretion, since it takes longer
to normalize the pH. Give people more of a medium
roast coffee, though, and we see a dramatically
different effect— an acceleration of stomach
acid secretion, returning the stomach to acidic
conditions three times faster than drinking dark roast
coffee, hence the title: “..[dark roast coffee] is less effective
at stimulating [stomach] acid secretion… compared to a medium roast [coffee]”,
but you don’t know if that translates into symptoms—clinical effects—
until you put it to the test. “The most commonly used
coffee bean roasting process is referred to as convection or ‘flash’
roasting,” which just takes a few minutes. “An alternative method
is conduction roasting,” which roasts at a lower temperature
for a longer time—hours— and this results in
so-called low acid coffee. And, supposedly, there are anecdotes
from coffee-sensitive individuals suggesting that this low-acid coffee “does not precipitate
or aggravate heartburn.” When you look up that citation,
though, they just cite data from the Puroast Coffee company,
makers of low acid coffee. It should therefore come to no surprise that it was the same company
that funded the study. If you go their website, they claim that
“the health benefits associated with drinking Puroast Low Acid coffee will
become almost immediately obvious to those who suffer from acid
reflux, heartburn, or indigestion”, with over 90 percent of customers
surveyed receiving symptom relief; and so, they decided to put
their money where mouth was. But before I get to the results,
it’s important to realize that when they say low acid, they’re
not talking about stomach acid; they’re talking about roasting
so long that they destroy more of the chlorogenic
acid within the coffee bean. You know the antioxidant, polyphenol,
phytonutrient chlorogenic acid… You know the anti-diabetic, anti-cancer, anti-inflammatory,
anti-obesity antioxidant… but that’s like some orange juice
company going out of their way to destroy the vitamin C and then
branding their OJ as “low acid.” And, that would be technically
true—vitamin C is ascorbic acid— but they’d be bragging about
destroying some of the nutrition, and that’s exactly what low
acid coffee makers are doing. But hey, if it causes less stomach
discomfort maybe it’s worth it? Thirty coffee-sensitive
individuals completed a randomized, double-blind, crossover
study in which the symptoms of heartburn, regurgitation,
and stomach upset were assessed following the consumption of the
Puroast brand low acid coffee versus conventionally roasted
regular Starbucks coffee, and to the funder’s chagrin,
no benefit whatsoever was found with the low acid coffee. Consumption of both coffees
resulted in heartburn, regurgitation, and stomach upset in most individuals. So much for that ridiculous
90 percent-of-customers claim. No significant differences
in the frequency or severity of heartburn, regurgitation, or
dyspepsia were demonstrated between the two coffees, either in a
fasting state or after a test meal. They couldn’t find any way to make
the low acid coffee look better. So, they had this initial thought
that a difference in coffee acidity may explain the company’s claims;
however, when put to the test in a randomized, controlled study,
they found no difference in symptoms, suggesting the whole coffee
acidity thing doesn’t explain the sensitivity some people
have, and I think further, acts as a reminder that we
should never believe claims made by anyone trying
to sell us something.