Caffeine and inflammatory bowel disease (IBD)

When you have inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) knowing what foods and drink affect your symptoms can be a bit of a minefield.

Some people with IBD have reported that caffeine can cause a negative effect on their symptoms. Here we take a look at some of the reasons why that may be to help you make your own decision about whether it may be having an effect on your symptoms.

What is caffeine?

Caffeine is a substance that stimulates the body’s central nervous system. It is found naturally in some plants and harvested to create stimulant drinks and foods.

Food and drink which usually contain caffeine include:

It is also added to some over-the-counter medications that can be bought for common illnesses such as coughs and colds.

How caffeine affects the body

Some studies have shown that small amounts of caffeine has positive effects on some diseases and cancers , however it also has many negative effects on people generally:

Caffeine and IBD

Clinical practice guidelines recommend that people with IBD avoid caffeine1, though there is very little specific evidence that links caffeine to causing or worsening IBD symptoms.

Some people choose to avoid it due to some of the side effects it can have which may affect their IBD.

References

  1. Brown AC, Rampertab SD, Mullin GE. Existing dietary guidelines for Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis. Expert Rev Gastroenterol Hepatol. 2011 Jun;5(3):411-25. doi: 10.1586/egh.11.29. PMID: 21651358
  2. Rapuri PB, Gallagher JC, Kinyamu HK, Ryschon KL. Caffeine intake increases the rate of bone loss in elderly women and interacts with vitamin D receptor genotypes. Am J Clin Nutr. 2001 Nov;74(5):694-700. PMID: 11684540
  3. Boekema PJ, Samsom M, van Berge Henegouwen GP, Smout AJ. Coffee and gastrointestinal function: facts and fiction. A review. Scand J Gastroenterol Suppl. 1999;230:35-9. PMID: 10499460

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