For many, coffee is an essential part of the morning routine. Yet, the age-old debate persists: Is sipping coffee on an empty stomach detrimental to your health?
The good news? According to experts, the notion that consuming coffee sans breakfast is inherently harmful is largely a myth. “There are numerous benefits linked to coffee consumption, particularly concerning the gastrointestinal tract,” stated Dr. Sunana Sohi, a gastroenterologist based in Louisville, Kentucky. Despite its vilification due to its caffeine content and, in some cases, added sugars, coffee has been utilized medicinally for centuries.
However, the acidic nature of coffee and its caffeine content can influence stomach acid levels, potentially leading to discomfort for some individuals. Specifically, coffee itself is acidic, and caffeine stimulates the production of gastric acid, as explained by Dr. Supriya Rao, a gastroenterologist based in Boston. Additionally, phenols found in coffee contribute to increased acidity within the stomach.
This increase in stomach acidity may cause dyspepsia, a form of indigestion, particularly for those sensitive to heightened acid levels. “If you experience bloating, upper abdominal pain, or nausea after having coffee on an empty stomach, it might not agree with your system,” emphasized Sohi.
Rao added that while the stomach is adept at handling acidity, some individuals may feel discomfort as a result of heightened acid levels affecting the esophagus. Studies, including one published in the Library of Medicine, have linked coffee consumption to lower esophageal sphincter relaxation, potentially causing heartburn and discomfort.
The solution? Pairing your morning coffee with food can help offset these acidity levels by providing a buffer and aiding in fluid absorption, noted Rao. Even choosing coffee varieties like those with milk or opting for darker roasts, which typically have lower acidity, might be more stomach-friendly.
Decaffeinated coffee, naturally containing less caffeine, may also result in lower gastric acid production compared to regular coffee. Additionally, darker roasts and cold brew options have been identified as lower-acid alternatives, potentially causing less discomfort.
For those seeking alternatives, turning to tea, particularly green or black tea, might be a gentler option on the stomach. “Green and black tea have fewer acidity levels and less caffeine, making them a favorable choice if coffee upsets your stomach,” advised Sohi.
In essence, while drinking coffee on an empty stomach might not be universally problematic, understanding your body’s response and adjusting your routine accordingly can help mitigate any potential discomfort. Choosing alternative varieties or enjoying your coffee alongside a meal might just be the key to savoring your brew without the tummy troubles.
This post originally appeared on HuffPost