A daily routine for many individuals, a cup of coffee gets them through the morning and prepares them for the day.
But a widespread misconception holds that consuming coffee on an empty stomach might be bad for your health. Others contend that it may cause heartburn, digestive issues, or even damage to the stomach lining. Knowing what to trust might be challenging because there is so much contradictory information available. We’ll examine the pros and drawbacks of drinking coffee on an empty stomach in this blog article and examine whether or not this customary behaviour is in fact hazardous.
For many individuals, starting the day with a freshly prepared cup of coffee is an unavoidable ritual. Yet, as some on social media have stated, drinking a sip without food might affect your stomach or lead to other problems including bloating, acne, hair loss, anxiety, thyroid problems, or uncomfortable periods.
According to Kim Barrett, a professor of physiology and membrane biology at the University of California, Davis School of Medicine and a member of the governing board of the American Gastroenterological Association, studies on the advantages and disadvantages of coffee consumption, particularly as they pertain to the gut, have been ongoing since the 1970s. The stomach, fortunately, can tolerate a wide range of irritants, including coffee.
The stomach may defend itself in a variety of ways, according to Dr. Barrett. For instance, it secretes a coating of thick mucus that forms a strong barrier between what you consume and the lining of your stomach. According to her, that barrier also shields the stomach from the naturally acidic environment required to break down food.
She said that because the stomach is continually exposed to a very harmful environment, it would take a really severe drug to compromise its defences. It is just how the stomach does its function.
How does coffee impact the digestive system?
Irritating substances such as alcohol, cigarette smoke, and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin) or naproxen (Aleve) are well known to alter our stomach’s natural defence mechanisms and harm its lining, according to Dr. Byron Cryer, chief of internal medicine at Baylor University Medical Center in Dallas.
His research facility specialises on figuring out how certain drugs and other substances might hurt the small intestine and stomach. Many sizable investigations have demonstrated that whereas certain irritants can increase the stomach’s susceptibility to acid and ulcer development, this is not the case with coffee. Even among those who drank three or more cups per day, a 2013 research of more than 8,000 adults in Japan revealed no connection between coffee intake and the development of stomach or intestinal ulcers.
Dr. Cryer stated that coffee “is not expected to produce objective harm to the stomach, especially in a concentrated form.” And far less at the regular dosages in customary drinks.
Coffee can speed up the colon and cause a bowel movement, and it can also boost stomach acid production. Despite this, coffee does have an impact on the gut.
Coffee’s caffeine is widely documented for raising blood pressure and heart rate outside of the stomach. Also, if you consume it right before bed, it may interfere with your sleep. Dr. Cryer indicated that these modifications are just transient.
Would having more stomach acid cause any problems?
Dr. Barrett believes that drinking coffee on an empty stomach is unlikely to cause gastrointestinal harm, but it may conceivably cause heartburn.
We know that coffee causes stomach acid to be produced, but if you have food in your stomach or drink your coffee with milk or creamer, you will help to create a buffer that will assist to neutralise that acid. Drinking coffee, especially black coffee, without a meal can lower the pH of the stomach more than drinking it with milk or after a meal, according to Dr. Barrett.
Despite a little lower pH is not harmful to the stomach lining, it may be harmful to the esophageal lining, which is significantly more prone to acid damage. Also, a few studies have suggested that coffee can relax and open the sphincter that joins the oesophagus to the stomach, potentially allowing acid from the stomach to splash upward and induce unpleasant heartburn sensations.
Even so, the information is contradictory. A 2020 research utilising information from more than 48,000 female nurses revealed a greater incidence of heartburn symptoms among coffee users, in contrast to a 2014 assessment of 15 studies from Europe, Asia, and the United States that found no correlation between coffee intake and symptoms of heartburn.
The disease known as Barrett’s oesophagus, which happens when the oesophagus is harmed by repeated exposure to stomach acid, such as in those with long-standing acid reflux disorders, is studied by scientists to better understand how coffee could influence the oesophagus. To defend themselves from the acid, the oesophagus’ lining cells change into tougher, stomach-like cells in this situation.
These alterations can raise your risk of esophageal cancer, especially if you smoke or have a family history of the disease. Fortunately, a 2016 research of veterans in the US revealed no connection between coffee drinking and any negative outcomes. The authors came to the conclusion that eliminating coffee would probably not be beneficial for Barrett’s oesophagus.
So, how should We proceed?
As a gastroenterologist, I normally advise my patients to keep track of their symptoms. If they routinely experience a searing sensation in their chest or a sour taste in their mouth after drinking coffee, they should reduce their intake – or consider taking an antacid. Including a splash of milk or cream, as well as a little bite of food, in your morning cup can also assist.
But, if you aren’t experiencing any symptoms, you are likely someone who does not have considerable reflux after coffee and can continue to consume it in peace.
Dr. Cryer drinks his coffee as a latte or cappuccino, claiming that the steamed milk reduces the bitterness. In general, he noted, coffee use offers several health benefits, including correlations to lifespan, a decreased risk of cardiovascular disease, and protection against a variety of malignancies, including liver, prostate, breast, and colorectal cancer.
“There’s significantly more evidence for coffee’s advantages than dangers,” Dr. Cryer said, which is something to bear in mind when you skim through social media headlines about the brew’s drawbacks.