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Coffee & Health

Should You Drink Coffee on an Empty Stomach?

Gather in here coffeeholics, let’s dispel the myth! Should you take coffee on an empty stomach?

A cup of coffee first thing in the morning is a ritual to most of us. To some, it’s an important intermittent fasting protocol, while it is the early morning exercise tonic for workout peeps. Regardless of our reason for bathing our empty stomachs with a cup of coffee, one thing is constant we hold that cup of Joe in high esteem.

woman drinking her morning cup of coffee on an empty stomach.

But to our utter dismay, there are several controversies as to whether or not coffee can be taken on an empty stomach. Some research claimed empty stomach coffee bath carries several health hazards such as digestive disorder, jitters, and anxieties, distortion of body glucose metabolism, among several other claims. Yet, some research claims coffee has little to do with these health complications.

Which way to go? Do not be confused, this article will critically analyze several claims about taking coffee on an empty stomach, dispel the myth if any of it exists as well as guide your decision on whether coffee on an empty stomach is hazardous to your health. Ensure you follow me till the end.

Before answering the golden question, let’s analyze the connection between coffee on an empty stomach and various health issues claimed to be associated with it.


Digestive Disorder

It is claimed that taking coffee on an empty may put you at risk of gastrointestinal disorders such as acid reflux, heartburn, ulcer, and Irritable Bowel Syndrome. This claim is based on the premise that the acid in coffee due to the presence of caffeine may damage your stomach lining since there is no other food in the stomach to neutralize the acidity.

Although research has proved that the acid in coffee due to caffeine can lower esophageal sphincter pressure, thereby letting out acid into the stomach. However, whether or not this can trigger symptoms of digestive disorders depends on the individual.

The risk here is for those who are highly sensitive to coffee. Studies have shown that some people negatively react to coffee due to their body systems, genetic composition, and underlying health conditions.

Generally, research is yet to prove a strong connection between coffee and some common digestive issues. According to a series of research on the impact of coffee on various functions of the gastrointestinal tract by COFFEE & HEALTH, an institute for scientific information on coffee, there is no clear association between coffee and several digestive issues such as Indigestion, Gastro-oesophageal reflux disease (GORD),  Peptic ulcers, Gastritis, Stomach cancer, Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), and Heartburn.

A review of coffee and gastrointestinal function by Pub Med, also shows that Coffee promotes gastro-oesophageal reflux, but it is not associated with indigestion and other digestive disorders. The higher risk is for those who have preexisting digestive diseases.

There is no clear evidence showing that coffee on an empty stomach is capable of causing digestive disorders. Coffee can only aggravate the symptoms in people who have existing digestive issues such as acid reflux, heartburn, or IBS. Aggravation of these symptoms has little to do with when you take your coffee.

Whether or not coffee on an empty stomach triggers digestive disorders depends on the individual body system’s response to coffee. You need to observe your body to know if your body negatively reacts to coffee. If so, you need to control your intake – it has little to do with when you take your coffee.

According to NBC News Health and Nutrition Editor, Madelyn Fernstrom, people who have acid reflux disease and heartburn are most vulnerable to the effect of coffee acidity, as such coffee on an empty stomach works for some people and doesn’t for some people.


 Jitters & Anxieties

Another claim against coffee on an empty stomach is that it may give you jitters, increase symptoms of anxieties, increase heart rate, irritability, and impair the ability to focus. Due to its stimulating effect, it is believed that caffeine in coffee may bring about these negative effects.

It may be terrifying if you can’t live without hitting on a cup of Joe first thing in the morning or during intermittent fasting.These claims should not scare you off early morning coffee if it’s what you enjoy, and it works for you. According to experts, health issues are “not one size fits all. The fact that early morning coffee triggers such an effect in some people doesn’t mean it also applies to you. It all boils down to your body system and its tolerance.

Coffee triggers the release of adrenaline which in turn boosts alertness. This may lead to anxiety and a severe case of jitters in some people if coffee is consumed in large quantities. It has little to do with the time of consumption.

You have to note, if you are caffeine sensitive then the effects of excess coffee on your system can lead to anxiety attacks or nervousness even if you take it in the afternoon. As such, the jittery effect of coffee has to do with sensitivity and the amount of consumption, not taking it in on empty stomach.

To know if coffee on an empty stomach is bad for you, try to observe your reaction after taking coffee without anything in your stomach. If you notice you feel dizzy, nervous, or your hands shake, while you do not feel like that if consumed at other times of the day, you can consider ditching an empty stomach coffee bath or take something along with it.

According to Laura Juliano, professor of psychology at American University, Washinton DC,  the experience of jitteriness and anxiety varies individually.These variations may be due to sensitivity, genetic disparities, the effect of drugs and medication as well as the quantity of caffeine someone usually takes.


Increase in Blood Sugar Level

An increase in blood sugar level is another potential risk of taking coffee on an empty stomach. However early morning coffee bath can only create this effect if coupled with a sleepless night.

Studies have found that trying to perk up your day with coffee following a disturbed night may increase your risk of diabetes because such practice may hurt your metabolism. A 2020 research by the Centre for Nutrition, Exercise & Metabolism at the University of Bath in the UK  found that coffee on an empty stomach may affect blood sugar levels if it consumes first thing in the morning following a poor night sleep.This research shows a close connection between glucose on an empty stomach following a poor sleep during the previous night not just taking coffee on an empty stomach.

If you have a poor night’s sleep, coffee isn’t the best stimulant to keep you awake the next day as it may impair your glucose metabolism.

Aside from making coffee on an empty stomach, studies have shown that caffeine may make it harder to put blood sugar levels under control in type two diabetes patients. In fact, according to Mayo Clinic, just one cup may increase or reduce blood sugar in diabetes patients. It is advisable for diabetic patients and those struggling to control their blood sugar to keep their coffee intake in check, not just the period of taking it.

If you are highly sensitive or due to your body system you experience negative effects  after taking coffee on an empty stomach, you can try the following:


How to reduce the Negative effect of Coffee on an empty stomach

Eat something along with your coffee.

Due to underlying health conditions, sensitivity, and caffeine intolerance, an increase in stomach acid due to caffeine may lead to abdominal pain and worsen some other disease symptoms. This may be more apparent when coffee is consumed on an empty stomach. As such, don’t just take coffee on an empty stomach, it is advisable to eat foods that can reduce stomach acidity along with it. Such food includes eggs, oatmeal, avocado toast, ripe bananas, whole grain toasts, and perhaps none citrus fruits.


Take clean coffee.

According to experts, Coffee on an empty stomach is not the only factor that exposes people to the risk of acid reflux disease. Acid reflux symptoms after coffee intake may also be as a result of mold or toxin in the coffee, symptoms of which may be aggravated by taking the coffee on an empty stomach. To ascertain the real culprit, try taking clean and organic coffee.


Add natural additives.

If coffee on an empty stomach gives your anxiety or jittery, try taking your coffee along with milk. Studies have shown that milk can negate the jittery effect of caffeine in the body system. Due to the presence of alpha-lactalbumin in organic milk, it boosts cognitive functions and assists the brain in processing serotonin. Serotonin is a mood-regulating hormone produced by the brain. Due to sensitivity, caffeine may disturb the brain’s ability to produce serotonin. As a result of this, you may feel jittery and weak.

As such taking milk with your empty stomach coffee bath may prevent jitters and anxiety.

While pairing coffee with food, you have to take note of foods that may trigger your sensitivity. For instance, Caffeine also plays a laxative role in the body. While it may count as a benefit for some people, it may worsen symptoms in people with gastrointestinal disorders. If you are battling with any of these conditions, you have to be careful of the type and quantity of milk or creamer you take with your coffee and other foods that might trigger your gastrointestinal symptoms.


Stay hydrated.

Due to the diuretic effect of caffeine, taking it on an empty stomach may dehydrate your body through urine. Consequently, dehydration may increase your level of anxiety. As such, it is recommended that you should take enough water before taking coffee first thing in the morning and during intermittent fasting.


Reduce your coffee intake.

As stated earlier coffee jitters and anxiety has little to do with the time of consumption but has a lot to do with your body system and quantity consumed. Try to understand your body and take coffee in moderation. For those who experience jitters, 200 mg is an advisable maximum quantity in a day. This amounts to two 8-ounce cups of coffee, according to  Mayo Clinic.


Take food before consuming coffee

If despite taking all precautions stated above, you continue to experience negative effects after coffee consumption on an empty stomach, you should consider ditching an empty stomach coffee bath. It means your body can not tolerate it. Your health condition may deteriorate if you fail to heed the apparent signals- it may lead to more chronic diseases. A typical example is coffee-triggered acid reflux. According to experts, if it is left uncontrolled, it may lead to inflammation of the esophagus (esophagitis). If esophagitis is left untreated, it may damage the esophagus lining, thereby exposing the patient to esophageal cancer.


Can You Take Coffee On An Empty Stomach During Intermittent Fasting?

Intermittent fasting is a popular weight-loss method, especially among womenfolk. This involves eating at intervals or waiting until a certain period of the day before consuming calories.

Among intermittent fast fans, coffee on an empty stomach is a sacrosanct protocol. Why?

It doesn’t break the fast: Early money black coffee is believed to be a safe drink since it contains fewer calories. As such, it can’t break the fasting protocol.

It supplies energy: Aside from the little number of calories that make it safe for intermittent fasting, many people claim they can not do without early morning black coffee during intermittent fasting because it supplies the energy to push through the fast.

Caffeine is a stimulant that finds its way into the bloodstream and brain very fast. As such, it releases energy quickly.

It suppresses appetite: Especially for those who find it hard not to reach for a plate of food during intermittent fasting. Coffee on an empty stomach is believed to be a super appetite suppressant that can keep you going up till noon without thinking about munching anything.

It aids fast fat burning: The motto of intermittent fasting is ” longer fast, faster fat burning”

As you stay away from food, you keep your insulin level at bay. A low insulin level allows your body to burn its fat for energy.

What coffee does here is that it helps you go on without food for a long time, without breaking your fast.

Now the dilemma? Coffee taken on an empty stomach is believed to be an important routine during intermittent fasting by practitioners. On the flip side, an empty stomach coffee bath is claimed to pose a health risk!

According to Marvin Singh MD, director of integrative gastroenterology at the Susan Samueli Integrative Health Institute at UC Irvine, whether or not you should ditch coffee during intermittent fasting is a personal decision. Once you notice negative effects such as stomach pain, upset, digestive disorder, or anxiety after consumption, try cutting back on the amount you take, switch to decaf or organic coffee or green tea.

Despite all said, do not forget to stay hydrated during your fasting. Aside from the diuretic effect of caffeine which can dehydrate your body, 20% of the fluid needed by the body comes from food. Since food is absent during fasting, you need to supply your body with enough water.


Should You Take Coffee On Empty Stomach?

The bottom line is that whether you can take coffee on an empty stomach or not is based on individual sensitivity, tolerance, and underlying health condition. If you do not have any preexisting health condition and do not react to it in any way, there is no cause for alarm.


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