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Heartburn/GERD Health Center

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Jury Still Out on Whether Coffee Induces Reflux


So what should heartburn patients do? According to the researchers of the current study, they should simply enjoy regular or decaffeinated coffee if their system can tolerate it.

Another doctor says that toleration may vary from person to person. "Anecdotal reports from patients indicate that coffee exacerbates reflux, although individual tolerance seems to vary," says David Nelson, MD. Nelson is an assistant professor of family medicine and emergency medicine at the Medical College of Virginia in Richmond. "It's probably a good idea to cut back during flare-ups and reintroduce it slowly to learn how much is too much."

"We don't really know why coffee exacerbates reflux. It may be caffeine, oils, and/or some aspect of processing. But patients seem to do better with decaf," says Vincent Barba, MD, an internist and clinical assistant professor of medicine at the New Jersey Medical School in Newark. "Until we know more, [reducing coffee intake] just seems like the prudent thing to do. Besides, it's better for health overall."

Vital Information:

  • Contrary to widely held beliefs, coffee may not induce acid reflux disease, according to a new study.
  • Previous studies have shown that coffee does induce reflux.
  • Several variables could play a role in coffee's effect on heartburn patients, including the type of coffee itself.
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