About 75 percent of Americans regularly drink coffee, according to Rice University. Tea is only a little less popular in the United States, with 50 percent of the population drinking tea daily, according to the Tea Association of the United States. Since up to 20 million people have gastroesophageal reflux disease, or GERD, it is helpful to know whether the caffeine in tea or coffee produces stomach acid.
Caffeine is a stimulant that causes a rise in pulse, blood pressure and stomach acid production. According to the Cleveland Clinic, coffee can also relax the esophageal sphincter, which can worsen symptoms of GERD. However, a study in the June 1994 issue of "Alimentary Pharmacology & Therapeutics" found caffeinated tea did not create GERD symptoms, and decaffeinated coffee caused less irritation. This suggests another component besides caffeine in coffee is responsible for its effect on stomach acid.
Change Your Brew
If you have heartburn or GERD, you might notice regular coffee worsens your symptoms. According to CoffeeReview.com, coffee contains organic acids that produce healthy antioxidants, but can be hard on the digestive system. The website suggests trying a low-acid coffee. Dark roast coffees are naturally lower in acid, but several companies also specially roast low-acid coffees in light or medium roasts as well. The bottom line is, decaffeinated coffee might help, but there is little evidence to suggest switching to decaffeinated tea is beneficial if you have stomach acid problems.
- Tea Association of the United States: Tea Fact Sheet
- Coffee Review.com: Low-Acid Coffees
- The Society of Thoracic Surgeons: Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease
- Rice University: Caffeine and the Athlete
- European Journal of Gastroenterology and Hepatology: Effect of Coffee On Gastro-Oesophageal Reflux In Patients With Reflux Disease and Healthy Controls
- The Cleveland Clinic: GERD -- Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease