Seniors are prone to many different digestive disorders, but even in spite of these disorders, are probably reluctant to give up their daily caffeine habit. Thankfully, there’s a solution which will allow seniors to retain their coffee habit and its proven benefits while avoiding the downsides: low acid coffee.
Reduced acid coffee or acid-free coffee is a modern chemical marvel which removes one of the least desirable flavor and health elements: acid.
Acid ruins the flavor of many different coffees and also is the source of most (but not all) of the potential health issues caused by coffee consumption. In this article, we’ll talk about how low acid or no acid coffee might be a healthier choice for your senior.
At least 60% of the adult population suffer from acid reflux each year. For seniors, this percentage is even higher thanks to a reduced ability of the body to effectively process acids. The acid in coffee also causes the infamous heartburn, tooth decay, and general stomach perturbations that many seniors associate with the caffeinated beverage.
Coffee acidity typically makes the drink itself taste worse and varies extensively from bean to bean. If your senior is having issues with coffee acidity, avoiding espresso beans is a must. Espresso beans are typically much more acidic than other coffee beans. Dark roasts are the way to go, and we’ll suggest a few later on. First, let’s discuss how digestive disorders in seniors can be exacerbated by the acid in coffee.
Seniors & Food-Related Digestive Disorders
Because they’re not as capable of digestion as younger people, seniors are prone to several food-related digestive disorders. These disorders include acid reflux (GERD), inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), ulcers, constipation, diarrhea, and nausea.
Acid reflux, or GERD, is common, even in people who aren’t seniors. Coffee is a notorious cause of acid reflux, however. We’ve all been there: the extremely unpleasant burning sensation in the throat, nausea, chest pain, and other painful and uncomfortable symptoms which occur after consumption of acid rich foods.
Acid reflux is a hassle for most people, but in seniors, it can be dangerous. Acid reflux damages the lining of internal membranes which food passes through, meaning that after reflux episodes it can be painful to eat normal and nonacidic foods. This can cause seniors to lose precious weight, which is a critical indicator of their general health.
Acid reflux can massively reduce a senior’s standard of living, often invisibly. Be on the lookout for seniors who seem to be losing weight for no discernible reason, or making gagging motions with their lower throat. Quick remedies include drinking a lot of water or over the counter acid-nullifying products.
Try not to use the over the counter acid nullifying products unless your senior is having a bad acid reflux episode. The flip side of using the over the counter products for acid reflux like Tums or Pepto Bismol is that they can cause other gastrointestinal disturbances which can hurt your senior later on, once the acid reflux episode has passed.
Inflammatory Bowel Disease
IBD includes Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis, all of which are unpleasant syndromes which cause extreme gastrointestinal discomfort. These syndromes aren’t linked directly to acidity or coffee consumption, though in some cases acidity can aggravate pre-existing symptoms and there’s some evidence that coffee can provide a protective effect against developing these diseases.
The main point here is to avoid aggravating your senior’s IBD or other bowel issues by consuming coffee with a high level of acidity. The acidity will cause the fragile state of the compromised gastrointestinal tract to react badly, and likely cause irritation which extends from the bowels up through the stomach and into the esophagus.
This cluster of diseases have an extremely negative impact on the senior’s quality of life and are often episodic. If acids in coffee are one of your senior’s triggers for an inflammatory episode, that means that those types of acids need to be avoided at all costs. Days or weeks of discomfort simply aren’t worth a cup of joe.
In rare instances, IBD and its associated diseases can be lethal. Like with acid reflux, one of the signs that your senior may be silently suffering from IBD is unexplained weight loss. Often, it’s too embarrassing to complain about the symptoms of IBD or too difficult to describe exactly where the discomfort is, so be sure to be on the lookout. Finally, flare-ups of IBD aren’t necessarily easy to correlate with drinking coffee containing acid, so be sure to get a physician to make a diagnosis to be sure.
Ulcers are more common in people that consume lots of highly acidic foods and drinks. In seniors, ulcers are areas of irritation within the stomach lining that can be caused by excess coffee intake. Ulcers may or may not be a chronic condition, and they don’t form overnight.
Like many other issues plaguing seniors as a result of excess acid consumption, ulcers can be silently harming your senior and cause them to lose weight via lowered appetite due to nausea after eating or drinking. It can also be hard to diagnose an ulcer without a medical imaging scan, so it’s best to try to avoid them in the first place.
If your senior has a history of getting ulcers and is complaining of abdominal pain, nausea, excess gas, or insomnia because of their stomach issues, you should get them to a doctor and see whether their consumption is the cause of their ulcers.
Seniors are extra prone to constipation because of the reduced efficiency of their gut motility cells. Coffee or prune juice are traditionally excellent treatments for constipation, but in rare instances, it can cause or worsen constipation via its acidity.
The cause and effect should be easy to figure out here: your senior will drink coffee, then soon complain about being blocked. There’s no guarantee that a switch to acid-free coffee will solve this issue if it’s a chronic one, but it’s worth a shot.
Seniors who drink too much or too quickly are likely to encounter bouts of diarrhea, causing them to be uncomfortable and potentially lose weight or become dehydrated. If it’s the acidity of the coffee that the senior is drinking that is causing diarrhea, the solution is to switch to a lower-acid coffee.
If your senior is simply drinking too much, advise them to cool down for a while—or at least drink a cup of water and eat a snack with each unit of coffee to avoid becoming depleted.
How the Elderly Benefit from Low Acid Coffee
The elderly can derive some benefits from low acid or acid-free coffee:
- Reduced impact of acid reflux disease
- Easier digestibility
- Fewer interactions with medications
- Better dental health
- Less disruption of gut microbiota
- Smoother taste
- Less chance of triggering other health issues
These benefits are substantial and warrant finding a tasty low or no acid coffee bean for your senior’s enjoyment. The biggest benefit is that a low acidity coffee will avoid triggering your senior’s acid related health issues, which can massively impact their standard of living and enjoyment of life. It’s no fun to have an irritated gastrointestinal tract, and it tends to prevent seniors from enjoying their favorite activities and eventually becomes medically dangerous as a result of weight loss, dehydration, isolation, and tissue damage.
Don’t let your senior suffer because of the wrong bean. Picking a bean that can give the satisfaction of coffee without the risk of triggering a health problem is relatively easy, and we’ll help you in the sections below.
How to Identify Coffee with Low Acidity Levels
The acidity of coffee will vary from bean to bean, but there are a few general tips which will help you locate the best option for your senior.
First, avoid all espresso beans. Espresso beans tend to be much higher in acid content than other coffee beans and cannot be non-acidic coffee.
This means that you should avoid buying arabica cultivar coffee beans unless they’re specifically marketed as having highly reduced acid content or no acid content whatsoever. You can usually determine the cultivar by reading the vessel that contains the beans. Robusta cultivar beans are typically less acidic, but there’s no ironclad guarantee, just rules of thumb.
As far as the taste goes, coffee that tastes acidic is known for the way that it invigorates the tongue, with what some describe as an electric sensation. If you sample a cup and immediately detect this—or a churning of your gut—there’s a good chance that the coffee has a high acidity and isn’t suitable for senior consumption.
Though human experimentation isn’t ethical, it goes without saying that you should probably sample the coffee that you’re going to offer to your senior as a low acid alternative to ensure that the taste agrees with the marketing. Even if you’re not an experienced coffee drinker, you can easily discern the high acidity of an espresso from the low acidity of a dark French roast. Lower acidity coffees will taste more like the dark French roast than the espresso as a rule.
If you’re science inclined, it’s easy enough to perform litmus tests to get measurements of how acidic different types of coffee are. While certainly a fun learning opportunity for younger relatives, your senior relatives may not appreciate the turning of their kitchen into a laboratory.
If squinting at boxes or doing chemistry isn’t for you, opt for one of the established low or no acid coffee beans that are on the market. These beans come with the guarantee of low or no acidity as their primary feature and make up for their weaknesses in flavor with their guaranteed healthiness for your senior.
Best Low Acid Coffee Brands
Thankfully, some different companies produce low or no acid coffees which your senior will love. We stand by these companies and their products, and we can promise that your senior will love a steaming hot cup from any one of them.
You can find your senior’s favorite roast and type of bean in any of the offerings from the companies below, just make sure that the low acid promise extends to the bean that you end up buying.
Trucup offers reduced acid coffees in six different roasts. You can purchase Trucup’s offerings as whole bean, ground up, or as single-serving K-cups, which is a nice extra touch if your senior has the right machine at home. Trucup coffees are palatable and will give your senior the benefits of coffee without having to suffer from the penalties associated with acid unless they drink too much.
For seniors that are extremely sensitive to acid and enjoy drinking large volumes of caffeine, Trucup may be a bit of a gamble.
Don Pablo Subtle Earth Organic
Don Pablo’s Subtle Earth Organic Coffee isn’t specifically advertised as a low-acid coffee, and it is an arabica cultivar bean. While it does have a great flavor profile, its acid content is higher than the other offerings that we’ll discuss today.
This bean is perfect for seniors who only have a small problem with acid, and who are sticklers for a good taste. Don Pablo’s product is very smooth, has a great array of chocolatey earthy flavors, and has an excellent dark roast—which you should buy for your senior if you’re concerned about acid content.
As an added benefit, the Don Pablo line of coffees are all organically harvested and procured via fair trade. While these likely aren’t huge concerns for your senior, it’s important to buy from sustainable sources so that the seniors of the future have a chance to taste low acidity coffee, too!
Puroast Coffee offers what it claims is a 70% reduction in the amount of acid contained in the coffee bean. It also claims to have seven times as many antioxidants as other beans, which makes their product healthier than its counterparts even if acid isn’t a concern. It’s far from certain that your senior will benefit from the increased antioxidants inside Puroast’s coffee, but they can’t hurt.
Puroast does still have some acid remaining, but your senior will probably love their beans and have no health issues unless they’re particularly sensitive to the small amounts of acid that remain.
Healthwise Coffee offers TechnoRoasted™ coffee beans which reduces their acidity to within the range of mineral water. While this reduction doesn’t make Healthwise’ coffee beans acid-free, it does make them the winners of the lowest acid quantity on this list.
Healthwise Coffee is suitable for the seniors that are the most vulnerable to acidity within their coffee bean. You’d have to drink quite a large amount of Healthwise Coffee to have to suffer from any negative effects resulting from its acidity as a senior.
Tieman’s Fusion Coffee offers low acidity coffee, which should be appropriate for most seniors who struggle with the acid content of their coffee. Concerningly, Tieman’s lists the pH of their coffee beans as percentages, which indicates a lack of understanding of the metric.
If we give them the benefit of the doubt and interpret their percentages as absolute pH values (which is the correct way of expressing the metric), we can see that their coffee beans are indeed quite low in acidity, though they’re a few hairs more acidic than Healthwise’s offerings.
If your senior struggles with acid in their coffee, Tieman’s beans offer a large selection which will probably allow them to avoid acid related issues when they have their coffee.
Say Goodbye to Acid
Thankfully, if your senior slips up and has coffee with a higher acid content once in a while, it probably isn’t a big deal. Most of the damages caused by higher acidity in coffee reside after a day or two, and if your senior has managed themselves well, they’ll likely be back to tip top shape in no time flat after a brief encounter with acid.
It’s a lot easier to avoid slip-ups if you provide your senior with a few different acid-free coffee options, though. Having multiple different acid free coffees on hand will let your senior enjoy the feeling of making choices and ferreting out favorites among the different beans we’ve suggested.
Finding a low acid coffee for your senior is a major health issue that you shouldn’t take lightly if your senior loves coffee. The coffee itself is a great mood lifter and is broadly healthy, and your senior deserves to enjoy a warm cup of earthy liquid if they have their entire lives. Just opt for one of the brands which we’ve suggested here, and your senior will be ready to enjoy the tasty and healthier coffee that won’t exacerbate their symptoms or start new problems.