Is it an absolute necessity for you to gulp down that first cup of coffee before you can even start to think about breakfast? Or is coffee the only thing you ever have for breakfast?
Jump-starting your day with coffee isn’t such a bad thing — according to Healthline, in addition to helping you wake up, coffee can also improve your mood (duh) and brain function (ditto), could possibly help with weight loss, and may even protect against type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and Alzheimer’s.
The catch is, though, in order to reap all the benefits coffee may potentially provide, you might have to mix in a little food. Yep, coffee on an empty stomach may do your body more harm than good.
Coffee on an empty stomach can cause digestive trouble
Insider reveals how coffee, whether caffeinated or decaf, kicks your stomach acid production into overdrive. With no food in your stomach, there’s nothing for all that acid to digest, so the acid might start working on your stomach lining instead.
As licensed clinical psychologist Dr. Jamie Long told MSN Lifestyle, “Coffee on an empty stomach can magnify the stimulating effects because there is nothing to compete with absorption.” This acidic action may cause you to experience severe heartburn and indigestion, and, according to Dr. Nikola Djordjevic, M.D., gastric ulcers are also a possibility.
Coffee on an empty stomach can stress you out
Dr. Djordjevic also says that filling your empty belly with coffee first thing in the morning may not be the best idea. “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,” he 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.”
He says that stimulating cortisol production with caffeine at a time when it’s already at peak levels will just lead to further stress. In fact, some experts recommend drinking your coffee in mid-morning or early afternoon instead to boost alertness without increasing stress levels (via The Healthy).
Of course, no matter what time of day you have your coffee, even if you drink it with food, you may experience trouble if you find yourself consuming too much of the stuff. If you’re suffering from symptoms such as anxiety, irritability, heart palpitations, or shaking, you may want to consider giving up coffee altogether, or at least switching to decaf.
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