What 7 SIBO Experts Think About Coffee (Is Coffee Friend or Foe For SIBO & IBS?)


Is there anything better than a hot cup of coffee in the morning?

I’ve always loved coffee, but I’ve often wondered: is coffee making my Small Intestine Bacterial Overgrowth (SIBO) or Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) symptoms worse?

Because this is one of my #1 questions, I’ve made it a habit to ask as many expert doctors and practitioners as possible what their opinion on coffee is.

Today, I’ve rounded up a bunch of opinions on coffee and I’m sharing them with you.

Dr. Mona Morstein, ND

“On my handout it says “weak coffee is okay,” 1 cup a day.  But [do I think it’s good beyond that], no. If people are drinking coffee and they’re getting 10 ounces, 12 ounces, that is gonna work against the gut.

It’s acidic. It’s irritating. And if they have diarrhea SIBO –  coffee, caffeine stimulates peristalsis action. It drains the adrenals. It interferes with good sleep. “Oh, but, doc, I just have one cup before 9:00 in the morning!”  Yeah, well, there’s no law that says it’s detoxed [before the end of the day].

Coffee tends to wake you up at 3:00 a.m. [That is] the liver clog, the liver time on your Chinese clock. This is the time people wake up because they’re on a drug that their liver has to detox: caffeine. And then you wake up kinda wide awake, right?  

If people handle a cup or two of a weak coffee, all right. That’s fine. I don’t think a lot of it is going to be helping them in all of these different wants that we’re trying to get them to be healthier.”

Dr. Ritamarie Loscalzo, DC

“Coffee is stimulating.  A lot of people are dealing with adrenal fatigue and they drink coffee to keep them up. Yes, there’s the “Bulletproof” that’s supposed to be fungal free but most coffee that you go and get at Starbucks – there’s a lot of fungus on those beans, those funguses, the aflatoxins and other things. Not good for you. It thins the digestive lining. It actually thins out; the caffeine thins out the digestive lining.

The caffeine will stimulate phase one liver detoxification but won’t do anything for phase two.  People start to really like oh, motor up and get phase one stimulated and then phase two just lags behind. And so that’s a problem as well. I’m not a fan of coffee.”

Dr. Gary Weiner, ND

“I don’t like to generalize about that because I think a healthy body can enjoy coffee. I think coffee is a problem for many sick people. Coffee is not a healing agent for sick people.  

Why is that? Many reasons. The methylxanthine, the acids in coffee can be very difficult for a bowel. For people with SIBO, coffee is often used almost as a laxative. It stimulates that. Now that could be good to move the bacteria out if it’s constipation predominant or there’s an interruption motility to the point where the bacteria are kind of stuck in the small intestine. The coffee could be good.  

But in general, I think if consumed to excess it taxes the adrenal glands because it’s so stimulating and that can be a problem. Very reasonable use of coffee is really a great thing. Now there’s the Bulletproof Coffee, which at some protection as it were and some positive attributes to its negative ones. But I do I think it’s overused.”

Dr. Ilana Gurevich, ND

“Coffee is a tricky one. If you had asked me ten years ago I would have said it was bad, bad, bad, but now they’ve done a lot of studies on coffee. Coffee that’s organic and free trade, in moderate amounts, actually seems to be a good antioxidant and anti-inflammatory.

I am not opposed to coffee in moderate amounts. If you want caffeine, I think you’re going to get more health benefits out of green tea than you are out of coffee, but that’s because the Japanese have been researching green tea longer than the Westerns have been researching coffee. I like green tea more but I’m not opposed to coffee.”

Dr. Megan Taylor, ND

“I think [coffee] is person specific.  I think all the research out there is telling us that coffee in moderation, like alcohol, can be healthy.  There’s a lot of rich antioxidants in coffee, amongst other things.

For those reasons, I say, if you can tolerate it great.  I would say most of my SIBO patients are adrenally fatigued and coffee is that thing that keeps their adrenals boosted. They’re just trying to get through.  Our ultimate goal would be to get at what’s underneath that. Help them so that they can get off coffee, because more often than not it’s a false energy and can ultimately burn you out more.  Burn those adrenals out more.

Chemicals are used to decaffeinate coffee typically. French water processing helps to remove the caffeine in a healthful way that’s just not adding more chemicals to your cup. If you’re somebody who still wants that cup of coffee but you’re caffeine sensitivity, the decaf version is great.”

Dr. Nirala Jacobi, ND

“Coffee generally is okay. There’s a few caveats to that. And one of them is I would want that person to have organic coffee and there are some issues about mycotoxins. Mycotoxins are toxins that are released by fungi that can remain in certain foods and one of those mycotoxins is an aflatoxin in peanuts and that’s one reason we avoid peanuts besides the fact that it’s a very inflammatory substance.  

But with coffee, you know, I’m from Seattle.  We tend to line up when we see a green awning, you know. I drink a cup of coffee a day. I don’t think generally there is a problem. The caveats would be the mycotoxin if you’re sensitive to fungi.  

The other thing is if you are a very nervous person and some people that have a very poor what’s called caffeine clearance, that’s a measurement of how well your phase one detoxification works and that’s the first part of your detoxification system. If that’s a bit gummed up by all the other things that are happening, then if you’re somebody who drinks a cup of coffee in the morning and you can’t sleep at night that’s not a good thing for you.

Or if you’re somebody who works their jobs and is flogging a tired horse that’s also not such a great thing to do. Will I take it away because people are like take anything away but don’t take my coffee away.  

I’m like fine, keep the coffee. But you can’t have your milk in it. You can’t have your soy milk in it. And so yeah, you can have coffee but it’s going to be either black or it’s going to be with very boring almond milk or coconut milk.”

Dr. Tom Messinger, ND

“Coffee is a tough one because people are protective of their coffee.  What I have found for a fair amount of my patients is that they’re reacting to coffee as if it were gluten.  I’m not talking about the caffeine in the coffee that’s making them ramped up. I’m talking about the proteins in the coffee bean.

A lot of people that are gluten sensitive will react to coffee. It’s what’s known as a gluten cross reactive food. Cyrex Labs has a gluten cross reactive food panel and dairy is almost 100 percent across the board a gluten cross reactive food.  The people in their database who they know react to gluten, almost 100 percent react to dairy. Second on the list of gluten cross reactive foods is coffee.”

Experts Don’t Always Agree…

I’ve said it before… even on “simple” things, the experts rarely all agree!

What does that tell us?

Small Intestine Bacterial Overgrowth is super complex – and no two cases are the same. There’s no one protocol that works for everyone: healing SIBO is a different path for each of us.

How do we find the right path?

I believe the answer lies in getting as much information from the experts as we can. Then, we can lean into our own innate wisdom to find what works for us and what doesn’t.

I created the SIBO SOS™ Speaker Series to help bring you ALL the latest information on SIBO – right to your home.

For the rest of 2019, we have 10 expert Speaker Series Masterclass and Q&As scheduled. For a super limited time, you can buy the 2019 Speaker Series and get access to all TEN Masterclasses & Q&As for one very low price. Just $19.80 per Masterclass! 

Get the Speaker Series HERE.

Not interested in all 10? You can always buy each Speaker Series Masterclass and Q&A individually for $59.

Xoxo,
Shivan

P.S. Is coffee a friend or foe to you? I’d love to hear YOUR experience. Please leave us a comment!

P.P.S. Wondering if this applies to coffee enemas too? The short answer is no – coffee enemas are totally different than drinking coffee. I’m working on a new blog post all about coffee enemas, so if that topic interests you, keep an eye out for a new blog post very soon!

21 thoughts on “What 7 SIBO Experts Think About Coffee (Is Coffee Friend or Foe For SIBO & IBS?)

  • Fabulous blog post!!! I’ve been wondering how detrimental my 1 cup of coffee is each morning. I do notice a huge difference between brands, Bulletproof & Purity seem to be the purest. Love hearing the opinions of so many practitioners on the same topic, brilliant!!! Thank You!!!!

  • Thank you for this blog post Shivan. I am excited to see what you will bring.
    I thought your coffee blog was profound in that you gave us different angles to look at the coffee issue. I feel that most of the experts put the ball in our court. And that is predominately what I had to learn about this SIBO experience—it is so individual. But also now we know through Dr. Morstein, if it makes you feel bad, listen to your body.

    Ok, see you next time Shivan. I’m eagerly looking forward.

  • In response to Dr Messinger, respectfully, that information on coffee is incorrect according the study done by Dr Vodjani of Cryex labs.
    Just to clarify: Coffee beans were NOT found to be gluten cross reactive. Cyrex only found a gluten cross reactive issue with instant coffee and instant coffee is often contaminated with gluten. From the study:

    “The reaction of the affinity-purified rabbit anti-α-gliadin
    33-mer peptide with gliadin resulted in a very high
    OD of 2.5. In comparison, this immune reaction expressed
    by OD against various food antigens was the
    greatest against α- + β-casein (1.45), followed by yeast
    (0.94), casomorphin (0.86), oat cultivar #2 (0.68), fresh
    corn (0.68), milk (0.61), millet (0.51), milk chocolate
    (0.49), INSTANT coffee (0.46), rice (0.45), milk butyrophilin
    (0.39), and whey protein (0.36), while the immune
    reactions against oat cultivar #1, sesame, buckwheat,
    sorghum, hemp, amaranth, quinoa, tapioca, teff, soy, egg,
    and potatoes were less than 1 SD above the mean of theELISA background OD (Figure 1). Very similar reactivity
    was observed when monoclonal anti-α-gliadin 33-mer
    peptide antibodies were applied to these food antigensThe reaction of these monoclonal antibodies
    was the greatest against α- + β-casein, casomorphin,
    yeast, corn, millet, INSTANT coffee, and oat cultivar #2,
    while reactivity for oat cultivar #1 was negative. ”
    “For this
    reason, we measured the reaction of anti-α-gliadin
    33-mer peptide with various coffee preparations in instant
    form and from pure coffee beans. The results summarized
    in Figure 5 show that in comparison to antigliadin
    binding to gliadin at 100%, α-gliadin antibody
    reacted with INSTANT café latte at a rate of 82%. Further
    analysis of these data showed that only 20% of this immune
    reaction could be attributed to the milk in the latte(see Figure 5, column 2, Cow’s milk). We therefore investigated
    the other materials in latte preparations that
    were responsible for the other 62% of immune reactivity.
    A careful reading of the product labels revealed the declaration
    that “this product may contain trace amounts of
    gluten”. It became clear that gluten, more than milk, was
    responsible for the reaction of anti-α-gliadin 33-mer peptide
    with café latte extract. We also found that anti-αgliadin
    33-mer peptide reacted up to 23% with two different
    preparations of instant coffee that were prepared
    from selected Arabica coffee beans.”

    Pure coffee: “The anti-α-gliadin
    33-mer peptide antibodies reacted neither with fresh espresso
    purchased from three different coffee houses nor
    with a mixture of Turkish, Armenian, Greek, and Israeli
    prepared coffee powder, pure cocoa, or milk-free dark
    chocolate. ”

    CONCLUSION: ” These results indicate the following statements:
    first, instant coffee is contaminated with traces of gluten,
    which were detected by our sensitive ELISA and inhibition
    assays; and second, drinking pure coffee but not
    instant coffee may be safe for individuals with gluten
    sensitivity and celiac disease as long as these individuals
    do not have classical allergy to coffee. ”

    https://file.scirp.org/pdf/FNS_2013011516575568.pdf

    • Thank you Shan, I was just about to reply about that study. This is a perfect example on how one study “ends up” meaning something else because people too often just don´t go to the reference directly ,they just rely on blogs which sometimes don´t Always get it right..

  • I enjoy a large cup of Tasters Choice instant with whipping cream, each morning, since it has more fat and less lactose, I can not drink it black, and the other “milks” taste awful. I seem to be able to tolerate this

  • I have never liked coffee, and prior to SIBO, I jumped out of bed with tons of energy, so I never needed a “wake me up” beverage like so many of my friends did. I usually drank some nice tea. Now, being a SIBO patient, I don’t drink anything with my breakfast except water to swallow my supplements. Then more water during the day to stay hydrated.

  • Shivan, can you ask Dr. Pimentel what he thinks about coffee? I have methane SIBO and apparently archaea consume acid and coffee is acidic. I haven’t had a cup in 7 years and I still miss it!

      • It would be great if Shivan could do an update post/email with the answer to this question — I would have loved to have heard Dr. Pimentel’s thoughts in this round-up, and not just on an anecdotal basis but the actual facts about whether coffee feeds the SIBO bugs!

  • I’m one of those people who loves coffee and won’t give it up for anything. However, I have changed out my cream and sugar for coconut oil and butter, I stopped drinking flavored coffee due to the additives and I stopped drinking dark coffee. I can’t do weak coffee though! This article was very informative and gave me more to think about…like shifting to organic, fair trade coffee. Thank you for this!

  • Hi! I seem to be sensitive to coffee. I do believe it’s the protein in the coffee been beacasue I can not tolerate protein well. A protein shake or protein bar makes me very ill. I love coffee but have been having a hard time with digesting it. One cup makes me swell although I truly enjoy the taste. What is the bulletproof coffee? I seem to be sensitive to a lot of things with age. No fun!

    • Hi Lynn! Thank for commenting. Bulletproof is a brand of coffee that claims to be mold and fungus free (compared to other coffee) – but it also refers to a style of coffee (like a latte) where coffee is blended with grass fed butter or ghee and MCT oil. Do a search for Bulletproof coffee and you can learn more 🙂

  • Love your blogs, Shivan, Thank you, great articles, really enlightening.
    Having had bad diarrhea now almost 3 months, and achy stomach
    been without coffee some weeks, and now after trying again woke up 3 o’clock.
    Seem to be forced to quit it now for a quite while. or forever, we’ll see.
    Adrenal exhaustion etc, CFS, Hope I find some remedies, before too late.

  • I do love to have a weak cup of coffee. That said, I have Bullet Proof because I also have had problems with micotoxins from working at a mold infested workplace so I only have Bullet Proof because they check for mold.

  • Love a cup of coffee with 1/2 & 1/2 – it’s even better than a glass of wine! However, must stop consuming both coffee and wine. Any suggestions for coffee substitutes? Have tried several flavors of Chicory Herbal Coffee – but chicory leaves a lot to be desired. Also looking for something more tasty than coconut cream/almond milk. Any suggestions? Do drink herbal teas – but they are NOT coffee!

    • Hey Karen – I know what you mean! I don’t think there is anything on earth that really replaces the taste of coffee. I found that while I do love the taste of coffee, what was most sacred to me was the ritual of drinking a cup of coffee in the morning – it was a treat that made me excited to get up and get going. Once I got past the caffeine withdrawals, I was able to replicate the “treat” feeling with herbal tea, hot water with lemon, or even a breakfast smoothie I was excited about.

  • I’ve been ordering low acid coffee online for years. There are several brands. I love it cold with almond milk, as an alternative to water,

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