Stomach bloating, sometimes called belly bloat, is any abnormal increase in the diameter of your abdomen due to the build up of gas. Some air enters your stomach and intestines through the act of eating and drinking, but most gas is produced by the friendly bacteria in your large intestine. Excessive production of gas is not normal, but it's common and often related to poor digestion, dietary intolerances or from ingesting unnatural chemicals. Coffee has laxative effects and can relieve constipation, but it can also contribute to bloating, especially if dairy products and artificial sweeteners are added.
Intestinal bloating causes more symptoms than stomach bloating because much more gas is produced in the intestines due to the presence of bacteria. Your stomach shouldn't have bacteria in it normally, unless it is infected. According to "Human Biochemistry and Disease," E. coli bacteria infection of the stomach is the leading cause of gastric ulcers, which cause pain, acid reflux and bloating. Drinking coffee of other acidic beverages usually aggravate stomach ulcers. Intestinal bloating causes you to feel abnormally full and your distended abdomen may make clothes feel tighter. Bloating doesn't usually cause intense pain, although cramps are not uncommon. Because bloating is due to gas buildup, you may experience burping and flatulence, which often lead to immediate relief of discomfort.
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There are many causes of bloating including lactose intolerance, food allergies, too much or too little fiber, too much fat or sugar intake, constipation, poor digestion, dehydration, eating too quickly, inappropriate mixing of foods, stomach ulceration, stomach and intestinal cancer, parasitic infection, irritable bowel syndrome, acid reflux, Crohn's disease, celiac disease, bowel obstruction and menstruation among others. Drinking a cup of coffee with cream or milk added can lead to bloating if you are lactose intolerant. According to "Nutritional Sciences," artificial sweeteners such as aspartame and Splenda can cause chemical reactions in your intestines that produce bloating.
Coffee is a well-known laxative, which is why it used to be recommended as an enema for cases of severe constipation. Drinking coffee also promotes peristalsis, or contractions, in your large intestine that stimulate bowel movements. If bloating is due to the back pressure of constipation, drinking a cup or two of strong, black coffee may quickly lead to a bowel movement and provide you with relief. Simply drinking warm water is also known to help relieve constipation.
Poor digestion is often caused by a lack of acidity in your stomach. Poorly digested food provides extra material for bacteria to ferment, which produces gas. To properly digest protein, your stomach needs to be between 2 and 3 on the pH scale. If your stomach is not producing strong enough gastric juice, then drinking small amounts of strong coffee right before or during a meal might help reduce the pH level. This is why apple cider vinegar and acidic juices are recommended for digestive problems. Always avoid consuming lots of liquid with meals because it will dilute your digestive enzymes and compromise digestion.
Is this an emergency? If you are experiencing serious medical symptoms, please see the National Library of Medicine’s list of signs you need emergency medical attention or call 911.