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GERDX: A Cup of Joe - Friend or Foe?

By Krisada Ooi

What gets you up in the morning? An alarm clock? A good hot cup of coffee? Or perhaps a family member of yours yelling at you from downstairs? Regardless of the reason, all of us do have to get up at some point and get the day going. This, however, may not be the case during the holiday season, especially on Thanksgiving Day which draws closer by the minute. What some people may not be aware of Thanksgiving are its after-effects such as heartburn and gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). With that said, what exactly is GERD, and how does coffee and Thanksgiving play a role in our discussion? Let’s dive right in!

First off, let me begin with defining what GERD is. Mayo Clinic states that GERD occurs when stomach acid frequently flows back into the tube connecting your mouth and stomach (esophagus). This backwash (acid reflux) can irritate the lining of your esophagus. Common signs and symptoms include heartburn, chest pain, and regurgitation of food or sour liquid. Aggravating factors include eating large meals at night, drinking certain beverages such as coffee or alcohol, and eating fried or fatty food [1]. So obviously, coffee and Thanksgiving do have certain roles in aggravating GERD but does that mean that they should be avoided completely? Of course not! Here’s why.

While coffee is known to possibly aggravate GERD due to it being the biggest dietary source of caffeine, the jury is still out on whether it is the main culprit of GERD as there are no large-scale studies that show that the elimination of caffeine consistently improves GERD symptoms or outcomes. So, it’s probably best to ensure a good balance in your daily caffeine intake to prevent the occurence of GERD and at the same time, keep high blood pressure at bay. Is it a friend or foe? We have yet to know.

Every year around the week of Thanksgiving, the International Foundation for Gastrointestinal Disorders (IFFGD) encourages people experiencing symptoms that may be GERD-related, to consult their physician and to contact them to receive information and support concerning the disease [2]. Nevertheless, we should all still celebrate Thanksgiving as it is much more than just a family feast while taking the necessary precaution of pacing ourselves in digging in.

We have the IFFGD to thank for designating this week (November 18-24) as GERD Awareness Week. Thus, in the spirit of this awareness week, let us educate ourselves on this rather common but obscure condition as for all we know, it may be more than just a simple heartburn.


  1. Mayo Clinic. “Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD)”. Diseases & Conditions, 22 May 2020.

2. IFFGD. “GERD Awareness Week”. Living with GERD.


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