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Is Caffeine Safe on the Low FODMAP Diet?

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cup of low fodmap coffee beside coffee beans

When you’re trying your best to avoid symptoms from IBS or gluten sensitivity, the low FODMAP diet is an effective but difficult method to navigate. One of those tricky categories you have to master is safe beverages. This raises lots of questions on what low FODMAP caffeine drinks are safe.

Should you drink coffee if you expect GI symptoms after a meal? Does it matter what kind of coffee it is? Are there other factors that affect the outcome of the beverage on your GI system?

The Truth About Caffeine

Up to 40% of people with IBS believes that coffee triggers their GI symptoms. In fact, they have good reason to feel this way, because about 33% of IBS sufferers experience symptoms when caffeine is reintroduced during an elimination diet. 

Coffee, soda, and energy drinks provide you with very few nutrients as well as a potential blood sugar crash an hour and a half after drinking them. This crash is due to either the caffeine and/or sugar content that is not balanced with adequate nutrients to counteract the reaction. Caffeine is a big culprit in the effects, but it’s not the only one. Caffeine affects colon motility. It stimulates the movement of food passing through the GI tract- similar to what happens when you eat a full meal. 

Here’s a list of some common beverages and their caffeine content:

·      Starbuck’s coffee, Blonde Roast, 20 ounces – 475 mg caffeine

·      Dunkin Donut’s coffee, 14 ounces – 210 mg caffeine

·      Starbuck’s Iced Black Coffee, 11 ounces – 160 mg caffeine

·      Maxwell House Decaf ground coffee, 2 tablespoons (12 ounces coffee) – 2-10 mg caffeine

·      Honest Tea Organic Lemon Tea, 17 ounces – 90 mg caffeine

·      Black tea, brewed, 8 ounces – 47 mg caffeine

·      Green tea, brewed, 8 ounces – 29 mg caffeine

·      KeVita Master Brew Kombucha, 15 ounces – 80 mg caffeine

·      Arizona Iced tea, green, 16 ounce – 15 mg caffeine

·      Pepsi Zero Sugar, 20 ounces – 115 mg caffeine

·      Mountain Dew (diet/regular), 20 ounces – 91 mg caffeine

·      Pepsi, 12 ounces – 38 mg caffeine

·      Barq’s Root Beer, regular, 20 ounces – 38 mg caffeine

·      Root Beer, most brands, 12 ounces – 0 mg caffeine

·      Bang Energy, 16 ounces – 357 mg caffeine

·      Monster Energy, 16 ounces – 160 mg caffeine

·      V8 V-Fusion+Energy, 8 ounces – 80 mg caffeine

·      Red Bull, 8 ounces – 80 mg caffeine

·      Crystal Light Energy, 16 ounces (1 packet) – 60 mg caffeine

·      Glaceau Vitaminwater Energy, 20 ounces – 50 mg caffeine

For a full list and to evaluate your own caffeine intake, see https://cspinet.org/eating-healthy/ingredients-of-concern/caffeine-chart 

Since there aren’t any studies on how changing the amount of caffeine consumed during the day will alter symptoms of those with IBS, there will be some guess and check work on your part. Use your own body as an experiment. Consider also the role of pesticides and chemicals added to the coffee, as coffee is one of the highest pesticide crops. Go organic, and search for brands that are also mycotoxin-free. Mycotoxins can cause IBS symptoms and damage the GI tract.

Should You Avoid Caffeine Altogether?

Caffeine is a widely used ingredient, but should it be eliminated from your low FODMAP diet?

Studies that involved a number of people with IBS revealed that 26% to 40% of them implicate coffee (which contains caffeine) for their gut symptoms. Other research has shown that the reintroduction of caffeine into people’s diets caused the reoccurrence of symptoms.

While these results stir interest, it is important to note that they are drawn generally from observational studies. This is means that the definite cause and effect relationship between gastrointestinal symptoms and caffeine cannot be drawn. These results still need further investigation. Moreover, there is still to study the placebo effect, which refers to the response triggered by the treatment, not by expectation.

Learning what drinks are low in FODMAPS can help you avoid IBS symptoms and controlling caffeine intake.

girl drinking low fodmap energy drink

Is Crystal Light Low FODMAP?

Crystal Light is a line of zero and low-calorie drinks in powdered and ready-to-drink forms. There are different flavors packaged in various-sized containers.

Whether you maintain the recommended weight or trying to shed off some fats, good hydration is necessary for various physiological processes and for taming hunger pangs. And Crystal Light is marketed as a way to satisfy your cravings for sweet refreshments. But what if you are on a low FODMAP diet?

Crystal Light products have varying caffeine levels. Check your choice and decide if your gut can tolerate this amount.

Is Pepsi Max Low FODMAP?

Pepsi Max is a low calorie and sugar-free drink sold by Pepsi Co. Instead of regular sugar, they use aspartame and Acesulfame K. These artificial sweeteners are classified as low FODMAP. However, it also contains caffeine and acids that can irritate the gut.

Is Red Bull Low FODMAP?

Energy drinks can give you a boost during some of your busiest days. One of them is Red Bull. But are they safe for people with gastrointestinal conditions, like IBS?

Red Bull contains a considerable amount of caffeine (250-ml-can of Red Bull Energy Drink contains 80 mg of caffeine) since its main purpose is to keep you wide awake and alert. This means caffeine-sensitive individuals may have to think twice about gulping this beverage.

The sugar content of regular Red Bull is sourced from sugar beets, which is are low in FODMAPs. If you can tolerate the caffeine but would like to avoid the sugar, you may opt for Red Bull Sugarfree or Red Bull Zero.

How to Find Low FODMAP Drinks

Many people with busy lifestyles and those engaged in training and sports depend on certain drinks to replenish their energy throughout the day. But this can be complicated if you have an IBS because most of your energy is just wasted coping with the symptoms.

Luckily, you don’t have to eliminate coffee, energy drinks, and other flavored beverages in your diet. Just watch out for FODMAP ingredients, such as:

·    Sorbitol

·     Mannitol

·     Maltitol

·     Isomalt

·     Xylitol

·     Inulin

·     Concentrated juices

·     Fructo-oligosaccharides or galacto-oligosaccharides

·     Coconut water ( low FODMAP at 100ml or less)

·     Fructose

Fructose is notorious FODMAP, especially in the form of HFCS or high fructose corn syrup. Some ingredients are not classified as high FODMAP but may trigger gut symptoms. These include:

Carrageenan. These are sulfated polysaccharides harvested from red edible seaweeds. Carrageenan is widely used for thickening, gelling, and stabilizing food products.

Guar gum. It is a galactomannan polysaccharide obtained from the annual legume, Lond bean, or guar bean. It is used to increase the thickness and stability of the food, animal feeds, and other products.

Acacia gum. It is a natural gum obtained from the hardened sap of 2 species of the acacia tree. Acacia gum is consists of arabinose and galactose monosaccharides, which are key to its stabilizing, emulsifying, and sweetening properties.

Xanthan gum. This polysaccharide is a common food additive used to increase thickness and stability.

Sucralose and Aspartame. These sugars are accepted in most low FODMAP diets, but some people may be more sensitive to them.

man drinking low fodmap caffeine

Caffeine Low FODMAP Guide

Is Caffeine Low FODMAP?

Caffeine may not be high FODMAP, but one must watch his/her level of tolerance. It is advised to observe your body right after drinking caffeinated drinks and take note of what dosages trigger your gut symptoms.

Due to insufficient clinical data, it is difficult to establish a recommended dosage of caffeine with people with IBS. It is advised to seek a licensed dietitian who can plan your diet while considering your needs and limitations.

Setting the data concern aside, it is important to remember that caffeine is also present in coffees, teas, and hot chocolates.

·   Coffee-lovers who are in a low caffeine FODMAP diet should choose instant coffee or espresso over-brewed, drip coffee. Sadly, drip coffee has uncertain FODMAP status so it’s a lot better to just avoid it. You may also want to re-check the ingredients of the instant coffee to be sure. Still, watch your caffeine intake.

·   Choose white or green tea. Lightly-steeped black tea is also gentler to the gut because the steeping process (less than 2 minutes) dilutes the FODMAPs.

·   Yerba-mate’s FODMAP status has not been tested, so it’s safer not to include in your diet. Work with a dietician and try consuming small amounts to see how your gut would react.

·   When it comes to herbal teas, mint, ginger, lemon, and rooibos tea are safe when consumed moderately. Avoid teas with root filler and chicory. Chamomile, dandelion, fennel, and oolong tea may also trigger IBS symptoms.

Prepare your hot chocolate ¾ teaspoon of cornstarch using 2-3 teaspoons of unsweetened cocoa, and 12 ounces lactose-free milk. You may splash some vanilla for sweetness, but make sure it doesn’t exceed 1 tablespoon. Avoid pre-mixed chocolate drinks, especially those with dry milk. 

Final Thoughts:

Moving to a low FODMAP diet isn’t easy. It takes plenty of determination and discipline. But once experienced the liberty from gut symptoms, you can certainly say that the sacrifices are all worth it.

I would just like to remind everyone who’s planning to change their diet to consult a registered dietician first. This is to ensure that they still consume enough macro and micronutrients. People with an existing medical condition must get the permission of their physician first to prevent any complications.

 

caffeine fodmap energy drinks High Fructose Corn Syrup Low FODMAP low fodmap caffeine

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