If you’re like most Americans, you probably wake up every morning with a fresh cup of coffee. But did you know, drinking coffee on an empty stomach could have a negative impact on your health?
However, on an empty stomach, coffee may do more harm than good.
Coffee contains several acids, which can kickstart your stomach acid production. Stomach acid is helpful in breaking down food so it can move through your gut.
However, Dr. Nikola Djordjevic said, with no food in your stomach, this acidic action may cause severe heartburn and indigestion, and possibly even gastric ulcers.
Any food in your stomach is better than none, but there are some foods that may help neutralize the acidity of coffee.
According to nutritionist Carlyn Rosenblum, eating a breakfast of calcium-rich foods can do just that, helping you avoid an upset stomach first thing in the morning. She also added that cold brew has about 70 percent less acid than hot coffee.
Caffeine may also be a culprit when it comes to increased stomach acid production, research suggests. Additionally, it may increase the frequency of contractions throughout your digestive tract.
According to Healthline, an older study from 1998 found that caffeinated coffee stimulates the colon 23% more than decaf coffee, and 60% more than water, suggesting that caffeine significantly stimulates your lower gut.
Drinking coffee first thing in the morning can also increase your stress levels.
“Drinking coffee on an empty stomach, or early in the morning before you’ve had breakfast, can increase the level of cortisol in your body,” Djordjevic said. “From the moment you open your eyes in the morning, your body starts releasing cortisol, a hormone that’s responsible for regulating your immune response, metabolism, [and] stress response.”
Caffeine can affect the regulation of cortisol in your body, Rosenblum explained.
“Drinking caffeine first thing in the morning, when cortisol is high, blunts the hormone’s production and shifts the timing of the cycle,” she said.
This may lead to you producing cortisol at times when it would normally drop, like at night.
“Cortisol is necessary for our health; however, the problem is when we are constantly stressed out, our body is continuously producing cortisol,” Rosenblum said. “This can lead to increased blood sugar, which then leads to increased insulin hormone-producing, leading to insulin resistance.”
Besides the added anxiety, excess cortisol can also lead to weight gain, sleep problems, and compromised immune response.
To be safe, many experts recommend getting some food in your system before your morning coffee. Maybe even have coffee a little later in the morning, after you’ve had time to wake up naturally. Your body will thank you!