What’s in Your Cup? Tea & Coffee options for the FODMAPer.

Anyone that knows me fairly well understands my love affair with coffee. 🙂 There is something very nurturing to me about holding a warm cup of java in my hand while I dust off the cobwebs of sleep from my brain. I am sure the hit of caffeine has a little something to do with it too. 😉 Today, I will talk a little about coffee and tea for the FODMAPer…including best low FODMAP options. I also have some important updates to share…so read on!

As a digestive health dietitian, you might wonder why I don’t disparage the use of coffee. But, personally, I think coffee has received a bad rap. I think tolerance to coffee and tea is very individual. I am happy that coffee doesn’t bother me. In fact, I think it helps my digestion a bit! But like anything…drinking too much of any one thing isn’t always a good idea. Let me explain.

A word about the coffee, including the science.

Coffee is repeatedly in the headlines. It’s bad…then it’s good.  Here’s a bit about the good:

Coffee is so popular it just might be the number one source of antioxidants in the American diet! Coffee’s antioxidant compounds include caffeic acid, caffeine, the chlorogenic acids, eugenol, gamma-tocopherol, isoeugenol, p-coumaric acid, scopoletin and tannic acid. 

But like most things, too much of a good thing, is simply not a good thing. For IBS-D patients, the stimulant effects of caffeine might send you to the loo, while those with slow transit might find a boost of caffeine provides just the kick of energy their lazy intestine needs. For those with hydrogen positive SIBO, coffee or caffeinated beverages may be less tolerable, as hydrogen positive SIBO is already associated with rapid gastrointestinal transit time. If you are an anxious type, overdoing caffeine may make your feel a bit more jittery…so as always…listen to your body.

What about tea?

Tea is associated with a risk reduction of cancer and heart disease. Many of these beneficial effects of green tea are related to its antioxidant ingredient, catechins. The major active constituents and cancer protective effects of tea is from the tea catechin, EGCG (a polyphenol called epigallocatechin-3-gallate).  Currently, there are 1000 research publications found on PubMed (medical research database) revealing the cancer preventive effects of tea! There are also human studies on using green tea catechins to treat metabolic syndrome, such as obesity, type II diabetes, and heart disease risk factors. Study review here. 

Tea is the most popular beverage consumed by two-thirds of the world’s population! It is made from the processed leaf of Camellia sinensis. Tea types are based primarily on how they are processed or harvested such as black (fermented), green (non-fermented) and oolong (semi-fermented). As tea types differ in how the tea is produced and processed, it can effect the tea’s chemical composition. Green tea is produced by using young tea leaves and sold for consumption without fermentation.

Coffee and Tea Tips for the FODMAPer: 

If you want to enjoy a cup of coffee or tea, I suggest limit to your personal tolerance. For most of my clients, this is about 1 to 2 cups per day. Best to spread out to 1 cup per sitting to start to gauge your tolerance.

  • Low FODMAP tea options per the Monash University Low FODMAP app (proceeds of the app fund more research) include:  Black tea, white, green, peppermint tea, rooibos, buchu, honeybush, Chai tea (made weak), Dandelion tea (made weak). [Black tea flavored with ginger and cinnamon tea seem to work well for my clients too.]
  • High FODMAP Tea to avoid while on the elimination diet: Fennel, chamomile, oolong.
  • Low FODMAP Coffee options: : espresso &  drip brewed coffee seems to work well for my clients. I like to use a French Press, personally, but different methods of preparation may impact the fibers in the brew– trial and error in preparation methods will help you find what works best for you.

What to add to your tea or coffee?

  • When out on the go, either bring a small container of lactose free milk with you to add to your tea or coffee, or keep some at the office OR use almond milk at your favorite coffee shop. A small splash of cow’s milk may work for you as well. Tolerance to lactose is portion driven, and 1-2 tablespoons has very little lactose.
  • When selecting cow milk alternatives to use in your coffee such as almond, rice, coconut or hemp…ask the coffee shop barista if you can see the original milk container to scan for suitable ingredients.
  • Most, if not all soymilks in the US (including the one used at Starbucks–last time I checked) is likely high FODMAP as they are made with the WHOLE soybean. The fiber in whole soybeans contain the FODMAPs. Finding a soymilk made with only soy protein would be your best low FODMAP option.
  • You can also try to order a cappuccino ‘very dry’–foam only.  If you find small amounts of lactose works for you, a dry cappuccino might work as the amount of milk in the final product is FAR less than in a latte. I love a good dry/foam only cappuccino and tolerate it just fine despite having mild lactose intolerance.
  • Note: many coffee shop serving size options are HUGE! Opt for the small or tall size to keep your caffeine intake in check.

OKAY…now on to my latest news!

My digestive health coffee chats are up! My practice, For a Digestive Peace of Mind, just launched it’s second digestive health coffee chat. Please check out the videos here! And please provide feedback, give me a ‘like’ on my youtube page if you like it, and let me know what topics you would like for upcoming videos.

This week, I have partnered with Gastro Girl and Nestle Health Science to offer a FREE webinar on FODMAP basics and Reintroduction Phase Specifics this Thursday, Feb 9, 6:30 EST Hope you can join the fun. And yes, the webinar will be recorded! Click here to register!

23 replies on “What’s in Your Cup? Tea & Coffee options for the FODMAPer.

  • Rebecca

    I was in awe while scanning the USA Today app during the Super Bowl and they had an article on eating Low-FODMAP to ease IBS!!! AND, you were a part of the article!!! Congrats. I’m so glad it is now getting some press in the US. I’m two+ years into this lifestyle and it has helped me tremendously. Thank you for all that you do in this area. I couldn’t have done it without you.

    • katescarlata

      I know, Rebecca, I was happy they interviewed me for that article…but honestly, was disappointed with the tone. It is great the diet is getting press (no doubt!) BUT, felt like the writer was a bit negative. What did you think?

      • Rebecca

        I completely agree with you that the article came across as negative and that a low-fodmap diet was inconsequential. I didn’t want to go into too much detail in my original comment as I was just happy to see the topic getting some press. But, in my opinion, it made it seem low-fodmap doesn’t work or that if a person felt better it was either all in their head or from something different. This exact train of thought is one of my biggest struggles in dealing with SIBO and IBS. For me, low-fodmap has been a game changer. While I still sometimes have symptoms, they are greatly reduced. I am hopeful though that a dialogue is slowly evolving in the US!

  • Ann

    So Monash has tested Rooibos now, and it’s fodmap safe? I had just checked the App, and checked now reading your post, and they haven’t updated that on there yet? Also, any word on other herbal teas? I have no interest in Dandelion — but what about Ginger? Lemongrass? Verbena? Licorice…?

    And – re milks, have you seen any fodmap research on Macadamia nut milk?

    • katescarlata

      I have not seen macadamia nut milk–might be worth a gentle trial to see how you do. Ginger tea seems to work well for my clients–not sure the others have been tested–and I am not sure. Make sure you check the app when you have WiFi as the updates occur this way.

    • Kristen

      What app are you talking about? I would love to have an app to help me out!! Thanks.

      PS: Ginger tea is the bees knees when it comes to an upset system 🙂

  • katescarlata

    Thanks for your response, Rebecca….and I agree w/ your interpretation. It’s great the low FODMAP diet is gaining greater awareness–but there is more work to do…we all need to continue the dialogue.

  • louise Oppedahl

    Have you tried overnight cold pressed coffee. My husband, who avoids gluten and follows a low FODMAP diet largely, had been avoiding coffee, When he has the cold pressed coffee, he loves it and suffers no problems.

    I have to wonder, since the cold press is overnight and doesn’t heat the coffee, if it creates a lower acid coffee. I love it as well and think the coffee creates a sweetness and creaminess overnight. I add nothing and heat it slightly. My husband has it room temp in his cup. We both love it.

    • katescarlata

      Thanks for sharing, Louise! I will definitely try this. You had me at “sweetness and creaminess!” Sounds great and there are many cold brew fans out there…I might as well try to be one too! HA!

  • Joe

    I am surprised that peppermint tea is on your low FODMAP list. I recently had some Stash organic Cascade Mint tea made of organic peppermint and spearmint leaves. I had a bad FODMAP reaction to it. Could it be the spearmint or could it just be my reaction?

  • Kristen

    What about decaffinated coffee? Is it merely the caffeine in coffee we should keep at a minimum, or is is another enzyme in coffee (even decaf) that may cause trouble.
    Also, with lactose-free milk, is there a limit of that we should sick to? Since there is lactase in it already, the lactose should be broken down… but is ALL of it broken down?

    • katescarlata

      The acid in coffee can trouble some folks–but honestly, most of my clients enjoy a cup without issue. I think portion size is key here! Lactose free milk for most can be enjoyed in a typical serving of 8-12 ounces. Eating a mixed diet with balance is best for digestion. too much of anything can be a trigger—too much fat, fiber etc… It’s about learning what works for you–listening to your body.

      • Kristen

        Thanks so much for getting back! That makes sense.. should us FODMAPers strive to follow the MACRO guidelines of 50% Carbohydrates, 30% fat and 20% protein? And yes, certainly keeping balanced meals.

  • Sophia

    What is your opinion on matcha green tea? It’s the one treat I’m loathed to give up. I am on the elimination phase of the diet and did have some unsweetened pure matcha green tea with lactose free milk and a little raw brown sugar to sweeten. I didn’t have any IBS symptoms afterwards but I also have silent GERD and it’s hard to know if I am sensitive to it because the effects are not immediate for me. Thanks for all the info you’re providing, this website is a god send :).

    • katescarlata

      I have not seen any data on Matcha green tea re: FODMAP content–but I have asked that it be tested. It does not agree with me. I have a feeling it may have FODMAPs…but we will see. But everyone is different and I would hate for you to give up something that you enjoy so much.

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