There’s basically an unspoken rule in my house that no one is allowed to talk to me until I’ve had my morning cup of coffee. Let me assure you, it’s in everyone’s best interest. You see, it doesn’t matter how much sleep I get, how rested I feel or what’s on the agenda for the day – I’m just not a morning person. I need at least 30 minutes of solitude and a good jolt of caffeine in my system before I’m ready to take on the world – or at least put on my happy face and say “good morning.”
Whether you consider yourself a morning person or not, there’s a pretty good chance you’re still a fan of coffee. According to a market research study by the National Coffee Association, a whopping 83 percent of Americans are coffee drinkers. Approximately 63 percent report that they have a daily java habit and 75 percent say they drink coffee at least once per week. Coffee is the beverage that fuels our nation, and we love it to the very last drop!
Coffee can have a number of health benefits when consumed in moderation, but experts say there’s one golden rule you should always obey: never drink coffee on an empty stomach. It doesn’t matter whether you enjoy your coffee hot or iced, light roast or dark, caffeinated or decaf, the effect is the same. Drinking coffee without consuming any food can have some negative health consequences.
Our stomachs contain hydrochloric acid which helps to efficiently digest food. Drinking coffee on an empty stomach increases acidity, and without food to act as a buffer, this can quickly result in digestive problems. Consistently having too much acid in your stomach can cause damage to the digestive tract and lead to other issues including heartburn, ulcers and irritable bowel syndrome.
Drinking coffee on an empty stomach decreases the brain’s ability to produce serotonin, the neurotransmitter responsible for feelings of happiness, calmness and well-being. In some individuals, this may contribute to anxiety and depression. Coffee is also known to boost levels of cortisol (the body’s stress hormone), epinephrine and norepinephrine which can leave you feeling jittery and nervous.
There’s a good reason why morning coffee usually leads to morning bathroom breaks. A study conducted at Yokohama City University School of Medicine in Japan found that coffee promotes “gastric emptying,” meaning it moves food out of the digestive system faster than it would on its own. This ultimately means that food spends less time in the intestines where vitamins and minerals are absorbed (Source: The Good Men Project).
Some experts believe that drinking coffee on an empty stomach increases the amount of fluids released by your body, which can lead to dehydration. This problem compounds if you continue to quench your thirst with additional cups of coffee throughout the day.
Loss of appetite
Coffee can stave off those afternoon hunger pains to help you avoid senseless snacking after lunch, but you don’t want to use this tactic first thing in the morning. Many individuals choose a morning cup of coffee over a nutritious breakfast, and by lunchtime they feel like they’re running on fumes. While coffee does have some health benefits, it has virtually no nutritional value and should not take the place of a well-balanced meal (Source: David Wolfe).
A hot cup of coffee can be the perfect way to start your morning, but be sure to make it part of a healthy breakfast. Try pairing it with one of our delicious fiber-rich recipes like strawberry banana quinoa bake or carrot and zucchini muffins with nut crumble topping. Powering your body with the right kind of fuel will provide the energy you need to make it through the day – even if you’re not a morning person.