The People's Perspective on Medicine

Can Prelief Prevent Indigestion from Coffee?

Do acidic foods and drinks give you heartburn? We're talking about tomatoes, orange juice and wine. What can you take to prevent indigestion from coffee?
Expressive young man portrait drinking coffee.

Like our reader below we are coffee lovers. There is nothing like a hot cup of Joe on a cold morning. Fortunately, we do not suffer indigestion from coffee, but this person does. Is there anything that can be done to neutralize the acid in coffee so that it doesn’t trigger heartburn?

Q. I am a coffee lover. I can attest to the benefits you have written about regarding its ability to help maintain bowel regularity.

I also suffer from heartburn. Coffee makes it worse. What can you recommend?

A. This reader is referring to an article we wrote recently titled:

Why Does Coffee Make You Poop With Regularity?

There is actual research showing that coffee (regular or decaffeinated) can encourage bathroom activity.

That is cold comfort, though, if you experience indigestion from coffee. Here is our suggestion for this reader.

Prelief to the Rescue for Indigestion from Coffee?

You might try a product called Prelief. It contains calcium glycerophosphate.

According to the marketing:

“Calcium glycerophosphate reduces the acid by up to 95 percent in your favorite foods and beverages; Works on the food, not on you.”

Many years ago we met the man who developed Prelief. Alan Kligerman is one of those people who comes up with brilliant ideas and then acts on them. He also developed Lactaid. It contains the lactase enzyme to help people digest the milk sugar lactose. Then there’s Beano, which was also his brain child. Learn all about this anti-flatulence product at this link.

Will Beano Counteract Gas from Eating Beans?

We have no relationship with the companies that market Beano, Lactaid or Prelief, so do not worry about a conflict of interest. 

Indigestion from Coffee, Wine and Tomatoes? Will Prelief Help?

We know that lots of people react badly to acidic foods. We’re not sure why. After all, even without such foods your stomach is highly acidic. We have not found many clinical trials to support the use of calcium glycerophosphate for indigestion.

That said, Jane Brody, the Queen of medical journalism, wrote this in the New York Times back on September 25, 1996

“The occasional heartburn sufferer can rely on antacids like Tums, Rolaids, Maalox and Mylanta for fast relief. Those who know which foods are likely to cause symptoms can avoid those foods or try a newly marketed product, Prelief, that is swallowed before eating them or sprinkled on them. Prelief, developed by the same company that invented Lactaid and Beano, is a calcium-based dietary supplement (not a drug) that lowers the acidity of foods and beverages, including coffee.”

Prelief for Teeth?

Dentists have been studying this compound as a way of preventing tooth decay. In one study, the investigators found that adding calcium glycerophosphate to soft drinks greatly reduced experimental tooth enamel erosion caused by these acidic beverages (Journal of Applied Oral Science, July-Aug. 2012).  Presumably, this suggests it can also reduce the effects of acid and indigestion from coffee.

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    About the Author
    Joe Graedon is a pharmacologist who has dedicated his career to making drug information understandable to consumers. His best-selling book, The People’s Pharmacy, was published in 1976 and led to a syndicated newspaper column, syndicated public radio show and web site. In 2006, Long Island University awarded him an honorary doctorate as “one of the country's leading drug experts for the consumer.” .
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    I tried the cold brew coffee in the summer and love it. Brewing coffee lets the acids out, and cold brewing does not. To 1 quart of water I add 5 heaping tablespoons of coffee, then cover with paper towel for 20 to 24 hours. Strain the grounds, put 1/4 cp. coffee in a mug or glass, and add cold water. If you want it hot add hot water to 1/4 cp of cold brew. No acid no heartburn. You can regulate strength of coffee for stronger or milder.

    One solution is to drink lower-acid coffees such as Sumatra mandeling.

    I would love it if The People’s Pharmacy would let us know the country where the ingredients of any supplement or pharmaceutical discussed are sourced. If the manufacturer is afraid to give this information, them I’m afraid to purchase the product.
    You have posted articles on the importance of this when recently discussing generic ARB meds etc.

    Thanks for the info. I have stopped drinking coffee first thing in the morning. I will try Prelief because I like coffee but it was giving me a pain in my stomach.

    I take medication for acid stomach daily but with my coffee I add a pinch of Bob’s Red Mill baking soda, and it does the trick. No problem with coffee what so ever. It dissolves instantly and no strange taste.

    Not another OTC having no benefits past putting a little baking soda in a glass of water, brushing teeth with baking soda toothpastes, drinking apple cider vinegar, ad nauseum . . .

    I’d be interested to know if the Prelief has the effect of neutralizing stomach acid (important if you’re also trying to digest breakfast with your coffee).

    My husband and I share a banana prior to drinking coffee. Stops upset stomach.

    Prelief is also used to reduce the acid load and prevent subsequent bladder pain and symptoms in those with interstitial cystitis. A bit (1/8 tsp) of Bicarb at bedtime — or if there are symptoms present — is also helpful!

    Love prelief. I have 2 tablets as needed if I indulge in tomatoes, sauce, something acidic and I can enjoy food.
    And I always carry a wee container of them in my purse.

    I take two tsps of apple cider vinegar with honey in a glass of water beforehand. That solves the problem. No need to buy medications for this. ACV has an alkalizing effect.

    * Be nice, and don't over share. View comment policy^